Read Between the Lines
At the very outset, I would like to say that on behalf of Uday India family, I wish all of you a happy and prosperous Diwali. This is the festival of our country that is celebrated with much pomp and ceremony. Having said this, it is pertinent to analyse the verdict of Maharashtra and Haryana assembly elections. Although the BJP is looking very delighted over the results, the results are a warning, in a sense, to the party. It will form the government in both the states, but it is noteworthy that in both the states its tally has shrunk vis-a-vis that of last time. In Haryana, it suffered a deficit of seven seats, whereas in Maharashtra, its deficit is to the tune of 17 seats. In Haryana, the BJP registered victory in 40 seats. The Congress put up a resurgent performance, winning 31 seats in the 90-member Haryana Legislative Assembly. In the 2014 Assembly elections, the BJP formed the government on its own, winning 47 seats. It is worth mentioning here that in the last assembly election in Maharashtra, both BJP and Shiv Sena contested the election separately and won 122 and 63 seats respectively. Against this backdrop, it cannot be gainsaid that though Shiv Sena is now making big claims about its victory, it too has somewhat lost sheen in this election, despite having fought the election in alliance with BJP. The verdict from the two states has sent out two distinct messages. First, this is a jolt to the confidence of BJP. Second, it has shown that Congress contested the election without the campaigning by the Nehru-Gandhi family and yet the party emerged stronger. This has substantiated the fact that the Nehru-Gandhi family is no more the elixir for the crisis-laden Congress.
However, the BJP should not forget that its election machine’s famed appetite to wrest state after state from Opposition parties may not have anticipated the shrinking number in its tally. In this election in Haryana, BJP gave the slogan of “Beyond 75” and to achieve this goal Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar launched Jan Aashirwad Yatra, which elicited tremendous response. However, the party could not convert this response into electoral gains. In Maharashtra, Chief Minister played the card of Maratha reservation, but he could not garner the number to form the government on its own. The local leaders or the kshatraps were the real heroes in these assembly results. The BJP like Congress took a high risk of ignoring the capacity of the local leaders and eventually lost its connect with the people in these states. They can find solace in the voter percentage but the reality is that it is losing its connect with the people. In these results three leaders, namely, Sharad Pawar, B.S. Hooda and Dushyant Chautala, are the real winners. They have shown that all is not lost for the regional outfits or aspirations. Sharad Pawar has fought serious odds and breathed fresh oxygen not only into his party, the Nationalist Congress Party, but also into almost all regional parties in the country. The dominant Maratha community in western Maharashtra found greater appeal in the ageing Sharad Pawar’s energetic rallies than in BJP’s reservation pie. Furthermore, Maharashtra is considered to be economic hub of the country, yet agriculture is its backbone, as it is of Haryana. Therefore, in this election in the two states, distress in agriculture was one of the prominent issues. What is more, during this distress, Haryana was afflicted with 24 per cent of unemployment crisis. Also, revocation of Articles 370 and 35A and policy of hot pursuit against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism did not yield desired results for BJP. Hence, it can be summed up that the Indian electorate has now become mature, who, in election to Parliament, looks at the issues of national concerns, whereas in election to assembly, he focuses on issues of local import.
By Deepak Kumar Rath