Editorial: Managing Perceptions
Organiser   04-Jun-2018

" Despite the unfavourable result, my first experience as a candidate in the Jaunpur bye-election has been happy. People might not have voted for the Jana Singh candidate but they appreciated its policies and supported its stand. If the Jana Sangh lost the seat it was not because of any lack of support in the electorate, but simply because it could not prove a match to the underhand practices of the Congress. Anyway defeat has to be accepted. There should be no attempt to explain it away. However, the whole campaign should be closely analysed so that the pitfalls may be avoided in future.

–- WHY WE LOST-AN ANALYSIS, Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya, Political Diary, Organiser, June 3, 1963
After the Global economic depression of 2007, for the first time Bharat achieved a primary fiscal deficit under 0.2 per cent of GDP for the 2017-2018 fiscal year that ended in March. In the last quarter the financial year the robust 7.7 per cent growth is registered. It is a reality that the transparent governance processes are taking the schemes like Direct Benefit Transfer or Ujjwala to the grassroots. All this is true but when it comes to electoral politics, what counts is the real arithmetic and the perception being built on the chemistry with various groups of voters and not the numbers. The recently held bye-poll results again reiterate this fact. There are clear-cut indications of these results for all the major political parties, especially for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress.
If we analyse the results minutely, the reality is that the BJP has lost the majority on its own. Though the bye-polls were held for 4 Lok Sabha and 10 Assembly Constituencies in various States, the discussion would revolve around Kairana in Uttar Pradesh where the arithmetic of opposition unity is clearly visible. The voting pattern clearly suggests that in the constituency like Kairana in which BJP could garner more than 50 percent votes in 2014 with 73 percent voters turnout, only 45.7 percent votes could be retained with 54 percent turnout. As happened in Gorakhpur and Phulpur, BJP could not get the core voters to the polling booths; otherwise it could have been really a fight for fifty percent voteshare as the party has been claiming. Was this an over-confidence or lack of booth level management in bye-polls or perception that not enough is done on core poll-plank of Hindutva and core voters (read middle class) or combination of all? The ruling party will have to find realist answers to these questions.
Though the trumpet of opposition unity has been played everywhere, the reality is besides Uttar Pradesh, no other State has real meaning to it. What it will create is the perception impact. All the Constituents of opposition unity, except the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) had fought against the BJP even in 2014; in 2019, they will generate the false impression of fighting together on anti-Modi/ anti-Hindutva agenda while actually fighting in each state/constituency independently. The NGOs, Naxal supports, religious oragnisations like the Church and Ulemas would come out openly in support of this anti-BJP tirade. What would be the BJP’s answer to this perception war fought in the 543 Constituencies with different combinations is the real point to ponder over.
This election has again proved the Congress will be a B team or C team of regional parties like the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Uttar Pradesh or the RJD in Bihar. What will be the nature of this alliance and to what extent it would lead to uncertainty and instability at the national level, will certainly be the issue voters should consider.
As Pandit Deendayal Ji while analysing the loss of Bharatiya Jan Sangh (BJS) in the Jaunpur bye-election in 1963, in which Pandit ji himself was a candidate, felt that the palpable lies spread by the Congress candidate such as BJS was responsible for the Chinese aggression on Bharat in 1962, certainly created an impact in the Constituency. Similar perceptions are being built by the Breaking-India forces through social media. How do the political parties handle this perception war and what is the response of electorates to this will decide the outcome of 2019 General Elections.