Riding on the crest of a wave that catapulted the BJP to an unprecedented win in the May Lok Sabha election, the party swept to power in Haryana and came tantalisingly close to forming a government on its own in Maharashtra — two states that had been ruled by the Congress (along with its allies) for 10 and 15 years, respectively.
Although the BJP’s gamble of going it alone paid off (it won an absolute majority in Haryana and emerged as the single largest party in Maharashtra), it was not enough to push it over the finish line in Maharashtra. By some BJP leaders’ own admission, the tally could have been higher if the BJP-Shiv Sena Mahayuti (or grand coalition) had not broken.
The fact that the Modi juggernaut stopped short of a simple majority of 145 MLAs in the 288-member Legislative Assembly means that the BJP could be forced to cohabit with its estranged ally, the Shiv Sena. Unless, of course, as is being advocated by a section of the BJP’s unit in Maharashtra, the party deems it politically expedient to form a minority government a la Narasimha Rao in 1991 in the belief (hope?) that neither the Shiv Sena nor the NCP would precipitate a crisis at the time of the government seeking a confidence vote. Read More>>
In many esoteric ways, the verdict in Maharashtra reinforces the worst of identity and divisive politics even as it has succeeded in enlarging the BJP’s national footprint on a key state, reports Pradyot Lal
There are contrasting shades to the picture that has emerged in wake of the Maharashtra polls, even as the overall scenario has dovetailed into the predominant projections. The kind of anxiety transparent in the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to help the BJP cruise to power is symptomatic of the malaise that has come to afflict Maharashtra politics. From Ajit Pawar to Praful Patel and several other top shots in the NCP camp, the attempt to buy protection from scams in the guise of support is too obvious to go unnoticed.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo has succeeded in neutralising the Shiv Sena to a considerable extent even when the latter is still trying hard to please the BJP and offer it support in return of certain plum posts for itself. Interestingly, former RSS spokesman MG Vaidya has been quick to recommend the cessation of the high-voltage, vituperative propaganda war between the BJP and the Sena as they are “brothers” and “natural allies”.
The third factor is the halting but significant emergence of the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) in Maharashtra, a significant foray in view of the considerable dilution of the Congress support base among the Muslims in the state. Read More>>
Finally, the jigsaw falls into place for a party that was always considered an urban entity. Thufail PT reports
A combination of factors, including, but not limited to, strong anti-incumbency against the 10-year-old Congress government, the consolidation of the non-Jat vote and the promise of development ensured that the BJP registered an emphatic victory in Haryana. In return, the party gave the state its first non-Jat chief minister in 18 years.
The BJP, which had just four seats in the outgoing Assembly, amassed 47 seats in the 90-member House. The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) — led by Om Prakash Chautala, who is in jail — came second with 19 seats, while the Congress finished third with 15 seats.
While the BJP’s vote share rose from 9.4 percent to 33.2 percent, the Congress’ share slid from 35.08 percent to 20.6 percent. Even though the INLD saw just a 2 percent decline, the difference resulted in the loss of 12 seats. Read More>>
The party of the Owaisi brothers makes a mark outside its traditional bastion and experiments with a Dalit-Muslim alliance, says G Vishnu
In the din of the BJP’s spectacular performance in Maharashtra and Haryana, some small but significant developments are bound to be left out of the gaze of political observers. One such is the debut of the All India Majlis-e-Ittahadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) in Maharashtra with two seats even as the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena could bag only one seat. The victory signifies a major breakthrough for the Hyderabad-based party — led by the Owaisi brothers (Asaduddin and Akbaruddin) — as it finally breaches a new frontier outside its traditional bastion. Moreover, this could just be the beginning of a new brand of Muslim-Dalit politics in India.
Lawyer Waris Yusuf Pathan won the Byculla seat for the MIM by a margin of 1,357 votes, defeating the BJP’s incumbent MLA Madhukar Chavan and the Akhil Bharatiya Sena’s Geeta Gawli. The margin of victory may have been small, but it is spectacular nonetheless.
In Aurangabad Central constituency, though, the MIM candidate and former TV journalist Imtiyaz Jalil won with a comfortable margin of 30,000 votes. Contesting for the first time, he defeated the Sena’s Pradeep Jaiswal. Read More>>
The Congress finds itself in a political morass of its own making. Bereft of ideas, the party has strengthened the BJP at its own expense, says Mathew Samuel
If trends in the recent bypolls and Assembly elections are anything to go by, the Congress is staring at the wrong end of the barrel. The grand old party, which ruled India for more than 60 years, is getting skeletal with its presence shrinking in a majority of the states.
First in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, and now in Maharashtra and Haryana, its capitulation is as clear as daylight. In Maharashtra and Haryana, the latter being its stronghold for many years, the Congress is not even the principal Opposition party as it finished third in both the states. The party has been wiped out by a cyclone named Narendra Modi.
Frankly speaking, more than the BJP, credit should go to the Congress for helping the lotus bloom thanks to the latter’s wrong strategies. It seems the Congress has not learnt anything from its recent failures and is hell bent on repeating the same mistakes in poll after poll. Read More>>
The Congress needs introspection. The BJP needs a growth story. By Prem Shankar Jha
Despite the setbacks the BJP suffered in the bypolls of August and September, there was never any serious doubt that it would emerge as the winner in the Maharashtra and Haryana Assembly elections. What has come as a surprise is the magnitude of the victory. Not only has it gained an absolute majority in the Haryana Assembly, but it has come close to doing so in Maharashtra in spite of breaking its alliance with the Shiv Sena. The doubling of its share of the vote in Maharashtra, and its tripling in Haryana, confirms its pre-eminence today. The message of these elections is therefore unambiguous: five months after the General Election, the ‘Modi wave’ has not begun to retreat.
The reason is not hard to seek. In May, the country had been suffering from a recession that had stalled industrial growth and completely stopped the growth of employment for the previous three years. Narendra Modi promised to revive the economy and offered the ‘Gujarat model’ as proof that he could do so. Desperate to see a ray of sunshine in their lives, a huge number of people believed him and voted for the BJP. As a result, the BJP’s share of the national vote increased from 19 percent to 31 percent.
Today, people continue to believe Prime Minister Modi’s promises despite the fact that there has been absolutely no improvement in their condition in the past five months. They do so because with his common touch, now amplified a million-fold by the media, he has struck a chord in their hearts. The message he has managed to convey is that his government will not make decisions for the poor, he will allow the poor to set their own priorities. So, they are prepared to give him more time. Read More>>
The Assembly results offer more proof of the PM’s centrality to political discourse. By Ojha Jai Prakash
Though the Narendra Modi government is not even six months old, the media seems to be agog with speculation about his style of functioning. The common refrain seems to be that Modi has concentrated all powers into his hands and the ministers have been reduced to ciphers. The ministers are reluctant to speak; they are not even independent enough to have secretaries of their choice and are under constant surveillance. The prime minister calls the shots on all senior appointments and even senior ministers have been compelled to play second fiddle to the omnipotent de facto chief executive.
In a parliamentary system of government, the Cabinet takes major policy decisions collectively, and as far as the prime minister is concerned, he is regarded as just the first among equals. If reports emanating from varied sources are to be believed, the Union ministers are hesitant to forward the proposals of their departments without ascertaining the mind of Modi lest they would be shot down by the prime minister’s office. Group of Ministers and Empowered Group of Ministers have been abolished to strengthen the position of the prime minister’s office. In a nutshell, the political commentators are lamenting the demise of the Cabinet system of governance with the ascendancy of Modi.
Arguments and counter-arguments will keep unfolding from time to time, but in our overzealous bid to train our guns on Modi, let us not gloss over certain developments that have occurred not only in India but in other democracies the world over, including the United Kingdom, hailed as the mother of all democracies. Read More>>