#AssemblyElections2018 The Battle of Narratives
Organiser   18-Dec-2018
Defying all the predictions, the voters of five states gave another mandate to ponder over. While in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh BJP faced a dignified defeat, the landslide victories of Congress in Chhattisgarh, Telangana Rashtra Samiti in Telangana and the NDA ally Mizo National Front have raised more questions about the upcoming General Elections that giving answers. The thin majority, failure of the grand alliance in Telangana and signs of infighting even before the Govt formation will be factors that will decide the Congress fortunes, while for the BJP creating the national narrative on the combination of development and cultural nationalism spearheaded by PM Narendra Modi is the electoral challenge
 
R Rajagopalan
 
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is facing tough times. Especially, after the results of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh where Congress has won. Very aptly Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted Congress Party.
 
 
From left Dr Raman Singh, Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan 
 
The Prime Minister also stated that the family of BJP karyakartas worked day and night for the state elections. I salute them for their hard work. Victory and defeat are an integral part of life. Today’s results will further our resolve to serve people and work even harder for the development of India. This is the best and like a statesman approach.
 
Three state election results have thrown open many crucial political issues for BJP and Congress. Are they negative politics as stated by Sonia Gandhi? Is it a negative vote for the BJP? The emphatic answer is no, and not at all. BJP has given a tough time to the Congress. Voting percentages of BJP and Congress are neck to neck. In Madhya Pradesh BJP voting share was more. Difference between a total number of votes for Congress and BJP is just 2,2380. What does these statistics reflect?
 
Many commentators in Hindi, English and also in TV debates have stated that Modi cannot be written off. From electoral politics. However, is it an impact on economic policies of Narendra Modi Government? The answer is yes. In a country like India, with a huge voters base, for the largest organisationally strong political parties like BJP and Congress, these three states results are sample tests. BJP needs to introspect. However, basics are. Congress misled the voters with half-truths and adoption of soft Hindutva.
 

 
 
I have been reporting Indian elections since 1977. Closely followed the campaigns, poll speeches, cadre mobilisations by both Congress and BJP. Best was to accompany Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi. Giving a local colour. Fiery speeches. To my disappointment for the first time, Congress leadership has adapted to spread fake news. Congress was minimal with truth. The 130 years political party adopted an approach to spread lies-lies on Rafale—propounded by Congress president Rahul Gandhi. The second was cloning of Hindutva of the BJP. These two were prime reasons for the success of Congress in Madhya Pradesh. Samples can even now be studied that in Ujjain the Congress has won where Rahul Gandhi wore a saffron dhoti with a broad tilak on his forehead. Such incident by any senior Congress leader was not done between 2004 to 2014. When Rahul Gandhi could tear off the Ordinance copy promulgated by Dr Manmohan Singh, but he did not utter a word about Temple. Contrary Congress Home Ministers were spreading a canard of Saffron Terror and Hindu terror. Are these the ill effects of Cambridge Analytica or adoption of Divya Spandana type of spoiled young minds who briefed Rahul Gandhi. The much more unfortunate thing is that voters have believed it.
NOTA could have swayed results in MP
The results of Assembly elections in five states showed NOTA registered whopping 8,44,177 votes. The None of The Above (NOTA) pulled 2.1 per cent of votes in 90-seat Chhattisgarh Assembly — the highest in all five states by the vote. The number of NOTA votes in the State had more votes than seven parties, which included NCP, SP and CPI. However, regarding votes, it polled the highest in Madhya Pradesh with 5,42295 votes (1.4 per cent of total vote share). With the vote share split evenly between the Congress and BJP, the votes that went towards NOTA may have tilted the scales in favour of either of the two parties. The Southern state of Telangana was next highest with NOTA polling 224709 votes (1.1 per cent of the total votes). It finished higher than the TJS and CPI, both members of the ‘Praja Kutami’. Its impact was however negligible in Mizoram and Rajasthan with it getting just 2,917 votes (0.5 per cent) and 467781 votes (1.3 per cent), respectively.
 
Nota in Five States
 
Chhattisgarh 282744 (2.0%)
Madhya Pradesh 542295 (1.4%)
Mizoram 2917 (0.5%)
Rajasthan 467781 (1.3%)
Telangana 224709 (1.1%)
(Source: Election Commission of India)
 
 
Congress has an easy answer if the party failed to deliver the promise of waiving off farmers loan in ten days of assuming the seat of power. On paper, Congress would have implemented. However, Congress will find the states exchequers of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan would have been emptied. Then the same Rahul Gandhi who gave a false promise would turn the table against BJP and Narendra Modi. Rahul Gandhi is capable of again raising false alarms that Centre refuses for fiscal support.
 
Second most important is the adoption of soft Hindutva for Congress winning. Fake sacred thread Janeyu wearing also helped Congress to dupe the upper caste. Such pro-Hindu image began in Gujarat later in Karnataka and repeated in three states, indeed had added vote share from upper caste. Now, one has to wait and see, whether this trend continues or will Rahul Gandhi stop Temple hoppings. Or as suggested to Rahul Gandhi the future elections and alliance with MK Stalin of DMK in Tamil Nadu, the temple hops will spoil the alliance as DMK is an atheist party.
 
Demonetisation, economic issues, petrol price and another significant purse pinching of common voters would have gone against BJP. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi saw GST and Demonetisation both were not to affect the poor. Shri Modi told IAS officials that GST should not be detrimental in rough Hindi what PM commented was GST issue mein garib ki thaali me farak nahi padna). The voters are fatigued. In some cases, NOTA played havoc. Three or four seats of BJP in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh were lost due to heavy voting on NOTA. The difference of votes was narrow. If NOTA voters would have voted for BJP or Congress, more seats would have been won.
 
Since Congress has won these three states and got a booster, will now take political issues forward. Congress is bound to use Navjot Sidhu types to the hype on Pakistan. For another four to five months, neutrality in media will also get tilted.
 
I feel the BJP during the four and half years ignored its cadre. A rough estimation of 5000 vacancies at the lower level were there in Government of India. It is said that intentionally PMO did not approve these posts. Fearing corruption will set in the system. Cadres would have been easily accommodated in positions like Telephone Advisory Committees, Railways Committees, Directors in nationalised banks, in Port Trusts. BJP MPs now openly complain that they were not allowed to bring transfer or promotion recommendations. The reason, leadership feared that there would be corruption in such cases. If it was Congress regime, 10,000 posts would have been created. Their MPs will be allowed to make money. Discretionary quotas would have been active. Though there were restrictions, but how the then Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s family looted the system. These facts now surface through raids and CBI inquiries. Whichever way one looks at this three states results are a significant challenge to BJP. Particularly, to Shri Narendra Modi and Shri Amit Shah. Since they are full-time politicians, and would not like to give away the anti-Congressism and also the power. Springing surprises is an art of Modi. Wait for this space for these duos to implement their political strategies for 2019 Lok Sabha polls.