Lotus  blooms in north-east

Lotus  blooms in north-east

Considering the BJP failed to win a single seat in the last assembly poll in Tripura, its tally of 40 out of 60 this time is truly spectacular. With Nagaland and arguably Meghalaya also in its kitty, the BJP can now credibly claim to be a pan-India party, barring some states in the South although it hopes to wrest Karnataka from the Congress later this year. The BJP’s sweeping victory in Tripura has implications for at least two other entrenched satraps in the East– BJD and TMC.   

In 1996, when in Parliament the debate on vote of confidence was going on, then the Congress leaders made fun of BJP for its small numbers. Atal Behari Vajpayee then said, “Today you are laughing at us for our small numbers, a day will come when people will laugh at your numbers.” After 22 years, Vajpayee’s statement is proving to be true. With the historic victory in Tripura and strong presence in Nagaland, the BJP has registered its existence in all four directions. Today, the BJP alone or with alliance partners has governments in 21 states. Against this backdrop, to say the BJP’s victories in the north-east, especially in Tripura, are historic seems almost like an understatement. Routing the CPM in Tripura after 25 years is an unprecedented achievement comparable only to Mamata Banerjee’s feat in dislodging the Left Front from power in Bengal after 34 years in 2011.

Considering the BJP failed to win a single seat in the last assembly poll in Tripura, its tally of 40 out of 60 this time is truly spectacular. With Nagaland and arguably Meghalaya also in its kitty, the BJP can now credibly claim to be a pan-India party, barring some states in the South although it hopes to wrest Karnataka from the Congress later this year. The BJP’s sweeping victory in Tripura has implications for at least two other entrenched satraps in the East. Although his party comfortably won the Bijepur bypoll recently, Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal may be facing its first serious challenge next year with the BJP’s juggernaut achieving an unstoppable momentum. This also applies to the Trinamool Congress in Bengal where Mamata Banerjee is trying hard to stop a saffron surge.

 

The message from the victory

The victory in the North-East means for BJP ‘many splendored manifestations’, which will have an impact on national politics, and especially on the 2019 General Election. “The loudest message coming out of Tripura after poll verdict is that the BJP can indeed make headway in ‘virgin territories’ — and that too in a short span of time — if it knuckles down,” observed a commentator. “This is no small signal for the party’s cadre, faced as it will be with more formidable battles coming up in Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Lok Sabha elections next year.” There is no doubt that Amit Shah as BJP President has built most powerful election machinery in the world. He put in a three-year-plan to wrest Tripura from the CPM. He is adept in ousting non-BJP governments, but not as good in keeping his own party-led governments safe from political assaults, said a political analyst.  However, the BJP cadre and RSS activists are surely stimulated, the BJP leadership did well to reach to the level of foot-soldiers.

 

CPI (M) facing an existential crisis.

Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, is continuously facing debacle all across the country. It’s losing faith of the people steadily.  It has already been nominal in West Bengal, which once used to be main heartland of the party. Defeat in Tripura is no less than a tragedy for CPM, which had been in power for 25 years. The electoral calamity in Tripura has reduced the CPM to its weakest in 40 years, leaving it potentially vulnerable to an existential crisis. A majority of the state’s 2.5 million voters decided against giving a sixth consecutive term to the CPM in the country’s first direct Left-Right electoral contest, opting instead for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP along with its ally, the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura, comfortably crossed the majority mark, leaving the CPM a distant second.  The national vote share and the seat share of the CPM is at its lowest points ever. The national footprint of the Left has also shrunk. The two major Left parties had won Lok Sabha seats from nine states in 1991. Now they are restricted to just three states: West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura. And unlike 1964, when the CPM grew at the CPI’s expense, no new or existing communist party has been able to gain ground over the past few years. This is reflected in the CPI’s decline, the only other communist party which has a member in the Lok Sabha in 2014.

According to some reports, the CPM’s dismal performance has led to growing criticism within the party on its inability to lead campaigns, remove corruption within its ranks, and its failure to mobilize the youth. The representation of young people in the leadership is even worse and owing to this, recently, CPM decided to retire some of its aged members like Buddhdeb Bhattacharya, Ashim Dasgupta and others. The CPM’s 20th party congress documents show that there were only two delegates below 30 years of age out of the total 727 who participated in the congress held in 2012. The party congress is the CPM’s highest decision making body according to its constitution. The number of delegates between 30 and 40 years was around 28. The number of delegates aged 50-60 and above 60 was 267 and 338, respectively.

While issues like failure to expand outside traditional bases and lack of young people have been a recurring theme in the past, the central question which the party faces is overcoming its problems in West Bengal, where it ran a state government from 1977 to 2011. Now the same state seems to have become the CPM’s nemesis with the party continuously losing ground there since 2008.

(continued on page 19)

(From page 15)

The drastic fall in the CPM’s seats in the 2009 and 2014 Lok Sabha elections is a primarily because of falling numbers from West Bengal, which used to have a large share in its parliamentary contingent. The way BJP is showing its aggression and winning people’s faith, it might too replace CPM in Kerala.


BJP biggest motivation for Opposition Unity


Only a year ago, even if a 9mm pistol was put on the head of either Bua Mayawati or Bhatija Akhilesh, they would not have joined hands to fight an election. But the impossible happened. Mayawati voluntarily offered to support Samajwadi Party (SP) candidates in Gorakhpur and Phulpur Parliamentary constituencies. How many of her supporters will shift to arch-rival’s candidates only result will show.

Why is she being so magnanimous? Buaji is possibly hoping for a quid pro quo, SP support for a Rajya Sabha seat.

Whatever the motive be, can this bilateral alliance be precursor to an understanding between all or most opposition parties, leaders of each of them know that they will be blown away by the Modi whirlwind.

Sonia Gandhi, Mamata Banerji, Sharad Pawar and Lalu Yadav, from behind the bars, and Akhilesh Yadav have been trying to evolve a formula for an anti-Modi opposition front to contest 2019 General Election.

The unity efforts by the opposition leaders during Mrs Gandhi’s era failed, and the joke was that their unity was like the legendary elusive Pimpernel.

But there is a vital difference between the state and apprehensions of the leaders of opposition now and those in Indira Gandhi’s time. Be it Jan Sangh with very few seats in legislatures or socialist parties, which were struggling to raise funds, they were not worried that Mrs Gandhi would wipe them out of existence. But they fear that Modi would. The signs are very much there. By enticing away Nitish Kumar, the RJD has been pushed to the brink. The Congress, the oldest and truly the only national party, is today reduced to begging for support from regional parties. BJP rules in 21 states which have 70 per cent of India’s population. Rahul with his low IQ is unable to comprehend that his party is on the brink, but his mother does. That is why she is trying frantically to unite the opposition.

Sonia Gandhi launched a soft political outreach to regional parties, discussing options to raise the Punjab National Bank scam in Parliament and explore a broader convergence, signalling that state-centric outfits need not consider Congress a threat to their interests.

As part of her outreach, Sonia reportedly invited leaders of opposition parties for dinner at her residence according to Congress sources. This is being seen as a step towards laying the foundation for a united front in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Invitations were extended to the 17 parties, which attended a meeting called by the Congress to brainstorm over common strategy in Parliament and outside last month. A TDP representative may also attend the dinner.

With the PNB scam seeing almost all opposition parties attacking the government, Sonia seems keen on using the concurrence to seek a more unified approach in Parliament. Her conversations assume importance after BJP’s success in elections in three north-eastern states.

Moves by opposition leaders like Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee and TRS chief KC Rao to form a federal front come across as a parallel exercise but not necessarily at odds with Sonia’s efforts. Some opposition leaders feel Mamata has signalled that she is peeved with Congress for not involving her in the north-east campaign or in the earlier Gujarat election but Congress will remain part of the scheme of things.

Sonia’s approach has been rather very clever. She seems to assure parties, which have been electoral opponents that their interests are not at cross purposes. In this context, an understanding, at least in Parliament to begin with, can be worked out with parties like Biju Janata Dal.

Sonia spoke to BJD’s Bhartruhari Mahtab and had exchanged notes with Trinamool MPs. The electoral presence of Congress has been diminishing in Odisha and in the current situation, BJP is seen to pose a stronger challenge to BJD.

Apart from Sonia’s proposal details of which are being kept secret leaders of other opposition parties have been exchanging various formulations to contain BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Congress leadership believes that BJP could be vulnerable in Hindi states where it did very well in 2014 and its number can be eroded significantly, denying a majority on its own. Some opposition leaders, based on caste combinations—if opposition unites—feel that the BJP could get knocked out of contention for office altogether, but many senior opposition leaders do not think the saffron party will suffer a meltdown. However, if the BJP numbers were to fall, it would allow unhappy allies like Shiv Sena and other regional parties greater say in selection of the PM and this might put Modi at a disadvantage.

Congress’s bid to put forward a more benign face to regional parties could be part of an effort to maximise the impact of non-NDA parties. After Rahul Gandhi took over as Congress president, Sonia was expected to play a role in coalition building, an area  she has more experience and has equations with opposition leaders.

All these activities and repeated meetings at Mrs Gandhi’s invitation show that the opposition is very serious, in fact desperate, to forge a united front. This time the fear of being trampled totally is the biggest motivation. Most parties are already fearing for their survival.

The BSP and SP alliance, described as between snake and mole, is one example of oppositions’ bid to arrest the rise of the BJP. The saffron party has become such a dreaded monolith that the chances of a unity amongst the opposition has become a distinct possibility.

By Vijay Dutt


Opposition’s unity

With BJP’s spectacular performance in the north-east, the opposition parties, led by Congress, are trying to cobble together an alliance. In this regard, Sonia’s approach has been rather very clever. She seems to assure parties, which have been electoral opponents, that their interests are not at cross-purposes. In this context, an understanding, at least in Parliament to begin with, can be worked out with parties like Biju Janata Dal. Sonia spoke to BJD’s Bhartruhari Mahtab and had exchanged notes with Trinamool MPs. The electoral presence of Congress has been diminishing in Odisha and in the current situation, BJP is seen to pose a stronger challenge to BJD.

Apart from Sonia’s proposal details of which are being kept secret, leaders of other opposition parties have been exchanging various formulations to contain BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Congress leadership believes that BJP could be vulnerable in Hindi states where it did very well in 2014 and its number can be eroded significantly, denying a majority on its own. Some opposition leaders, based on caste combinations–if opposition unites–feel that the BJP could get knocked out of contention for office altogether, but many senior opposition leaders do not think the saffron party will suffer a meltdown. However, if the BJP numbers were to fall, it would allow unhappy allies like Shiv Sena and other regional parties greater say in selection of the PM and this might put Modi at a disadvantage.


Demise of Old politics yielding to new norms


It was an English poet who said “Old order Changeth yielding place to new’ – A statement which was never so true as it is today. Electoral scenario in India right from 2014 is witnessing the demise of conventional politics. India always had Congress and some kind of milder stuff called Socialist or regional outfits. For some time Rajgopal Acharya driven Swarajya party did appear as a kind of lass fare-  free political outfit but it did not last for long against strong socialist mixtures administered to Indians by Jawarhar lal Nehru, Jaiparaksh Naryan and Ram Manohar Lohia. Gandhi remained a banyan tree where a large number of leaders flourished but only in its shade not outside. Any dissenter who left like Subhash Chandra Bose had to find his own place even leaving the country. Bhagat Singh and his team were out of political make up, fighting for same cause through revolutionary outfits. Right from partition of the country the politics in India remained Congress centric. This axis has been thrown to winds in the country by Narendera Modi.

It was easy to classify for sometime the politics in terms of right and left depending on how close you are to socialism or capitalism. But these days the boxes in which we closed these ideologies have opened and the goods scattered all overf. What is or Norway. These countries have as much social security and stat activism as communist states but they have freedom to the extreme in many matters. What is Singapore except a city state administered efficiently without corruption. World is no longer bipolar as the thinking is no longer right or wrong but in many shades and many colours. Those who call BJP rule which I would like to call Modi’s rule as rightist are mistaken as he has practiced more socialism in tackling poverty, Jandhan yojna. empowering women and welfare of the down trodden including senior citizen. His latest nationwide plan to provide medical insurance to all is another epoch making left state intervention rather than allowing leaving the field to individual care.

I am writing this in context of Tripura ‘s latest electoral upheaval. For 23 years leftist Communist Marxist party ruled this state and no one could shake this citadel of the left. Other two forts of left were

Bengal which Was dismantled by Mamta Banerji and second remains still intact in Kerala. If the last also falls India would be communism mukt bharat. Last election BJP had contested 49 seats and lost deposit in all. This time the miracle happened for the party and they won 43 including 8 of their associate. Total seat being 60 it was two third majority when Congress had zero score and Lefitist could get 16.  This was unmatched performance of Modi wave.

Tripura has shaken the conventional beliefs of the politicians that it is invincible fort of left. But frew realize that it has established secular credibility of Modi with his new definition that it is constitutionally granted equality not appeasement. Yogi too in UP has demonstrated it and in three elections of Nagaland Mizoram again this has been proved. Most of these states are Christian dominated and yet BJP won. In Tripura even Muslims came out to support Modi at the cost of being denied their Mosque entry and they had to build another mosque for Modi supporters. It is historical as everyone had thought and accused BJP for being Hindutva party. The credit goes to Modi for making this new direction of thinking that we live under the constitutional rule and have to abide by the “equality maxim’ of the charter. But It also made it clear that no such provision of constitution provided preference or appeasement to anyone. It certainly was new direction to many of his followers who had thought of Hidutva as the guiding force forgetting the reality of law and national interest. Tripura etched new history to prove its truth and vindicate Modism.

I had occasion to work and interact with North east states. I worked for Manipur when its Governor invited me to advise their University concerning Management School, Visited Nagaland and Meghalya as chairman of Planning Commission’s task force. NorthEast citizens and officials had a grudge against rest of India that they are not being given sufficient attention. Today North east is in the centre of India and has shaken the status quo of Indian politics to give it new lead and direction along with credo of Modi.

By Prof. NK Singh

 


Impact on Karnataka election

The Congress was quick to say that the verdict in Northeast would have no bearing on the results in Karnataka. The party appeared confident that it would retain Karnataka. The BJP’s national spokesperson, G V L Rao however begs to differ. “The verdict in Northeast will have an eco-effect. In the past the verdicts in NE had no impact in other parts of the country. However this time it is different and as I said, it would have an eco-effect. The Congress got a drubbing in Tripura and Nagaland. This sends out a massive signal to the rest of the country and hence would have a bearing in Karnataka as well. In Karnataka, the undecided voter would vote for the BJP now that the Tripura results are out. These voters see a signal across the country and hence would vote for the BJP.”

However, one thing is for sure and that is that the Congress is aware that Rahul Gandhi is driving them down nationally. Under his leadership, they are losing a series of elections. While he may be gaining traction in the media, he has failed to gain acceptability among the masses. The suit and scoot politics has backfired and hence the Rahul factor will drive the Congress down in Karnataka.

 

BJP’s expanding footprint

Beyond Tripura too, today’s poll results have made the BJP and its allies the dominant party in the North-East. With 26 seats between its seven states, which were the near monopoly of the Congress, the BJP can be expected to lap them up in 2019. This is further bad news for the Congress as it had hopes that the absence of a marked Hindu vote in these states should enable the Congress to retain its erstwhile base.

Besides, the north-east verdict will possibly boost the morale of the BJP cadres, who will see this victory as a harbinger of things to come, particularly when general elections are held next year.

 

By Ashok Kumar

 

 

 

 

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