One of the most fascinating elections in one of the largest democracies in the world are over. Narendra Modi is the new Prime minister of India. And has started on an excellent note, not putting a foot wrong till date.
Related Post: “NaMo Arrives, Democracy Wins” https://politicalbaaba.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/namo-arrives-democracy-wins/
But what now for the other political parties who have suffered a devastating defeat in the 2014 general elections. What are the lessons to be learnt from the people’s mandate and what is the way forward for them. Lets look individually at each of the opposition parties
First of all, lets start with the Congress.
There is no doubt that this is the most ‘crippling’ defeat of all times for the Congress. And I deliberately use the word crippling. Sure they have lost elections before. But never before has their vote share dropped below 20%. Throughout the hindi heartland of Rajasthan, MP, Chattisgarh, UP, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and even Maharashtra, the party has only managed to win family strongholds – The Gandhis, Scindia, Kamal Nath, and Pawar/Chavan.
From the 50s to the 80s, the USP of the Congress was that it is the party which won independence for India. But since the 90s, this factor has been diminishing at an increasing rate and is perhaps irrelevant today. Probably this was the first election with no voters with memories of August 15, 1947. Well we certainly now have our first Prime Minister who was born in Independent India.
The Congress needs to quickly appreciate the fact that are no major differences between the policies of the Congress and many of the regional parties, including AAP. They all indulge in the same ‘left of the centre’ politics. In such a scenario, there has been a clear division of the ‘anti-right’ vote between the Congress and the ‘other than BJP’ parties. To think of it, why would a ‘left of the centre’ vote in, lets say Delhi, opt for the Congress when it has the option of AAP – which is nothing but a corruption free Congress in terms of its policies
Thus this mean that all is lost for the Congress. Well no. Wherever the ‘anti-right’ vote weakens (JDS in Karnataka), the Congress would regain its vote share. But only if it has a strong regional leadership. There is an excellent opportunity in UP. The ratings for the Akhilesh government are at an all time low. Even in Bihar, the JDU has shot itself in the foot. A long term strategy for the Congress would have been to even kill off the RJD in these elections. But they revived it by entering into an alliance.
Or the Congress can also hope that there are more claimants to the ‘right of the centre’ votes. Most of these are today in alliance with the BJP. A Shivsena in Maharashtra or a Naidu in Andhra fighting separately can create problems for the BJP and revive the Congress in these states. But today, the state leadership in these states and in Gujarat/MP/Rajasthan/UP/Bihar have been completely destroyed by the Congress’s policy of parachuting leaders and dictating policies from 10 Janpath.
Does the Congress let go of the Gandhis. Well the current results suggest that at present, the Gandhis are more a liability than an asset. But I slightly differ. I still feel that the 19% vote the Congress has retained has a lot to do with the Gandhis. Infact, the Gandhis are the USP of the Congress on a national front. But the Gandhis need to quickly come to terms with the fact that they need to share power with the regional satraps. To think of it, how strong the Congress would have been if it would have retained Mamta, or even Pawar.
Does Rahul Gandhi go? Well this is a distinct possibility. Because he is clearly disinterested. But lets also remember, the 2004 loss of the NDA was solely blamed on Modi. He was not even allowed to campaign in UP/Bihar/MP in 2009. So the same Rahul Gandhi, who has been ridiculed today can re-invent himself. But only if he is interested. Clearly, his attitude today suggest, that is not the case. Priyanka also carries more baggage than required.
So where will the Congress find a new Gandhi after Sonia. Well, maybe a certain Gandhi who won in Sultanpur, UP. Make no mistake, the Congressis love power like a fish loves water. It is their oxygen that keeps them alive. They can go to any extent and ditch anyone to stick to power. Stranger things have happened in politics.
We shall discuss the impact of the people’s mandate on the electoral policies of AAP and other regional parties such as an increasingly jittery Raj Thackeray, or Jayalalitha and Mamata who are issuing full page ads in many of the national dailies in our next posts. Till then. Keep blogging