The dust has settled and the results are in. Modi has won. Period. Amen. Despite the setbacks in Goa and the more anticipated defeat in Punjab, there can be no two opinions on who the winner is.
What are the conclusions we can draw & more importantly, what are the warning signals from voters? Spoiler alert! We are not even going to talk about Rahul Gandhi!
No. 1: The complete decimation of Arvind Kejriwal – at least for the foreseeable future.
The writing has been on the wall for a while now. It is not that Kejriwal has changed. He has always been what he is – foul mouthed, prone to irrational exaggerations and conspiracy theories, megalomaniac and ambitious. And totally unfit to govern. It is just that the scales have fallen off the eyes of too many, both at volunteer level and voter level. Of course, Delhi media was still rooting for him (more on that in the next point).
If you go back to 2012 or 2013, amidst the stench of dynastic loot, plunder and scams, he was a whiff of fresh air, the knight in shining armour, the messiah. Bankers, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, professionals and other well meaning citizens were leaving well paid jobs and careers to be part of the “movement”. To clean India, to bring a new style of politics.
Just that they have finally realised, Kejriwal is not the man to do that. They never signed up to become another Mani Shankar Aiyar or Ambika Soni, loyal boot licking servants of one family whose only ambition is to come to power at any cost. They never wanted the irrational negative politics, fake conspiracy theories and brazen lies, embrace of jihadi terror and fanaticism in the name of secularism, compromises with corruption, business-as-usual style of politics, misuse of state funds for electoral advertisements, excessive power in one person’s hands, coteries of sycophants and vicious suppression of dissent and independent thought. In other words they did not want another Gandhi dynasty.
But then that is exactly what they got with Kejriwal and they left in droves. Now people are doing the same.
It is highly unlikely he can pick up the pieces again given the eccentricity hard-wired into his persona. Certainly not before 2019. Goa proved that beyond doubt. 50k odd votes about half what often loony and non serious (like the Party of Stark-raving-mad kind that show up in UK elections) independents secured! His irrational rant over EVMs that goes totally against the instincts of his target audience – young, tech savvy, educated Indians seeking fortunes in globalised world – show clearly where he is headed.
No. 2: Delhi fake liberal media loses whatever little credibility it had to start with
The bias and agenda driven reporting was always there. But the scale was certainly mind boggling even by Indian standards. After their Bihar success, the media lynch mob finally saw a golden chance to bury NaMo so deep into the ground, he simply had no chance in 2019. UPA III, the happy days of loot, plunder and “sharing and caring” in the form of dubious “investments” from moneybags favored by corrupt rulers, can come back. You could almost see them licking their hands in anticipation.
The wall to wall coverage given to “failure” of Gujarat model where every pothole and unpainted wall was projected as “proof” gave way to blanket coverage of Akhilesh’s “development record” – all based on one highway project! The same highway, if done by NDA would have had our liberal hearts bleeding over lost farms, livelihoods, land acquisitions etc.
No discussions on infant mortality, pathetic state of hospitals and schools etc that keep our liberals worried were ever allowed to raise their head. The depravity of UP was swept under the carpet once he signed up with Rahul Gandhi’s Congress (and to the Marxist agendas). Certificates of “new generation” politics were liberally issued despite his “minor 10%” differences over candidates with his allegedly thuggish, casteist father and Uncles (who were secular heroes not too long ago).
The hypocrisy was astounding too. Even as his online rag Wire was ranting against allegedly biased media predicting Modi victory, M K Venu was going ga-ga about Dimple Yadav’s connect with the people!
Saba Naqvi was predicting a AAP sweep of Punjab even as she was questioning objectivity of anyone predicting BJP win in UP!
“Project Akhilesh” – to project Akhilesh Yadav as a newly minted popular leader loved by all, caste bias free (yet magically retaining his Yadav base) and a serious challenger to Modi’s development mantra, even his PM chair, yet humble enough to let Rahul occupy it, failed big time. Economic Times almost ran a parallel campaign devoting pages after pages to anti-Modi rhetoric and Yadav sycophancy.
His pathetic record of thuggery, crime, corruption and failures over five years of mis-rule was totally ignored by corrupt yellow media focused on Modi’s alleged shortcomings during his 2 year run. People of course, saw it through. Interestingly after elections were over, the very same media gave the very same misrule as one of the reasons for the defeat. Something they clearly missed prior to the vote count!
No. 3: It is too early to call 2019
Some media servants of Janpath have now started giving up on 2019 – Modi is being handed outright victory on a platter.
But this again is poisoned chalice. BJP and Modi would do well to simply ignore these predictions and focus on the job.
Because the media elite handing out these premature victory awards are doing it not with any joy or acceptance of Modi’s hard work and connect with people but in frustration, sorrow and tears over the decimation of the corrupt cabal that kept them well fed.
Seriously speaking, 2019 is still too early to call simply because India is too complicated and anything can happen. Voters in national polls vote based on regional and local allegiances as Naveen Patnaik, Mamata Banerji and JJ’s sweep of their states showed. Three term anti-incumbency in MP and Gujarat may still lurk below the ground. BJPs 100% sweep in so many cow belt states may yet turn out hard to replicate. After all, there is only one way to go from winning all the seats.
Considering all this, BJP should, at least ask its own leaders to be very very careful in what they say, certainly not be fooled by corrupt media’s foolish predictions and left handed compliments.
No. 4: Speed up
The right way for Modi and his government to read this would be to see it as a call to step on the gas. People want faster and faster results, development, visible progress, rescue from the morass and swamp and don’t care about the caste or religion of the person delivering it.
After GST is through, Modi should speed up on various other reform agenda items. Sell off BSNL, Air India and other sinkholes that suck people’s tax money to fund well paid parasites. Here he should take on left’s nonsensical propaganda head on and show the Indian poor how they are carrying the parasitic PSUs and their arrogant staff in palanquins and get very little for their back breaking work.
He should roll back useless forms, returns, registers, approvals, certificates and other such remnants of 50s socialism that make life difficult for small businesses and tilt the scale in favor of imports. Here his record has been quite slow to be frank. A lot of Congress era shackles remain in the books, fiercely defended by the corrupt bureaucracy who see them as cash generating franchises. Here again he can take the left head on by comparing with China.
No. 5: Don’t write off caste based parties
If caste was the loser in 2017, it is not down and out yet. The casteist parties have not disappeared, still get 20% or more in votes and much higher percentages of votes from their own groups. As JD(S) in Karantaka shows, it is hard to get rural masses to vote truly on merit, ignoring caste even though a leader of Modi’s calibre can cut through in his appeal.
Modi would ignore caste at his peril as it can rear an ugly head anytime. Solution? Rock solid governance that delivers to all – ie. simply implement the “sub-ka-saath” agenda sincerely and effectively.
No. 6: BJP needs more Modis.
Clearly the bench is light. Only Parikkar, who was doing a great job in defense, could do for Goa and UP may rob another good senior minister from the center. Alternatively the huge gaps in Union Cabinet may have to be filled by airlifting a capable & performing Chief Minister, leaving a hole there in exchange.
Talent is hard to get, even for a party like BJP where you can rise to the top from the very bottom. It takes decades in power to develop that depth of talent but Modi has to get started now so that BJP can reap the rewards in five, ten years time in trickles. To solve short term issues some capable youngsters may have to be given over-sized charges, a risky gamble but one that may pay off well like in Maharashtra with Fadnavis.