Gujarat Results – Good news for Congress?

The results are out!

Let there be no beating about the bush, this is not exactly what the BJP expected or wanted.

Forget the “Mission 150” slogans which dynasty’s loyal media servants that want us to believe they are “independent” will crow about. Point is none of the contestants go into battle declaring they are only going to win 50 or 60 seats. Everyone makes grand predictions.

Forget also the “anything less than complete sweep is a loss, because that’s what 2014 was” sort of statements from the dynasty’s courtiers in media. Setting ridiculously high bars and constantly moving them about is what these charlatans have to do to earn their envelopes. No state votes the same way for local, state and national elections with exact same percentages.

Yet we cannot escape the fact that BJP did not get what it wanted out of Gujarat.

But the Pidis of media are already rejoicing, licking their palms in anticipation of return of UPA loot era. More RSTV gigs, “investments” from money bags that profited from out of turn allotment of coal and other natural resources and so on. Are they justified?

The answer is NO. Why?

1. The situation BJP faced in 2017 Gujarat is somewhat similar to AAP’s in May 2014 – it did not lose vote share at all. Just that BJP did even better because of Modi. BJP forgot this and focused on the 7 seat sweep and thought it sat pretty in the subsequent assembly elections. Rest is history. Come 2019 it is foolish too assume voters will vote exactly same way. A chunk of Congress votes may very well go BJP way because this time voters are clearly voting for (or against) Modi. There is no ambiguity. Reverse is less likely because they would have done so already. After all there are hardly any voters that prefer Rupani but dont like Modi!

2. Everyone focuses on Modi’s rallies and personal campaign. We conveniently forget Rahul’s equally aggressive campaign, amplified by media coolies and the usual “intellectual” charlatans. Everything including the kitchen sink was thrown at Modi. Even BJP dissidents like Sinha were roped in. And yet this is the best they could achieve – practically no improvement in vote share. In 2019 their efforts will be more diffused.

3. The three big negatives Rahul focused on – GST, DeMo and economic growth are all getting better by the day. Surat clearly shows this. Not to say they will vanish as factors but diminishing returns will set in. Jobs growth is an issue that may remain relevant – but here again people may focus on how Congress can do better. And Rahul did not answer that question at all and was never challenged by the media Pidis that control the narratives.

4. The soft Hindutva approach as well as temple runs and deliberate ignoring of Muslim voters (once again Rahul was given free pass on this by the corrupt left intellectuals and family Pidis that control the liberal narratives) may all work in Gujarat but will not have equal results elsewhere. Leaving aside the moral aspects of the strategy, there are other parties more blatantly pro-Muslim like BSP, AAP and Owaisis that will fill the void.

Yet one has to also be clear – BJP clearly has more work to do to keep the chair, come 2019.

  1. Rajasthan, MP if not Chhattisgarh all face anti incumbency and shortfalls in governance to varying degrees.  They are much more rural, backward and feudal. Exactly the sort of playground Congress and the ecosystem enjoys.
  2. The polling dates are also much closer to the 2019 battle and the states happen to be large.
  3. These states also have regional satraps like Gehlot and young dynasts with no negative track record, like Sachin Pilot.
  4. BJP will ignore all this to its peril. And it is not clear how much can be done between now and then.Throwing money at the problem may not work given shortage of time.

Amit Shah, Modi & Co have their task cut out to retain the momentum and go into 2019 with minimal losses in the bruising 2018 election season. Sadly the country will suffer. At best we will have suspension of long term reforms and at worse resort to gutter level politics by all sides. The sabotage of winter session (first few days) gives ominous warnings.

This where Modi’s suggestion of simultaneous polls makes sense. Perhaps the Stalinist left “intellectuals” and media Pidis that attack him for being on “campaign mode” all the time should consider that suggestion seriously.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bihar debacle

So many thousands of words have poured from the keyboards of so many experts and analysts on the recent Bihar elections and BJPs defeat. Here’s our analysis, presented in corporate style bullet points.

Wrong conclusions

  1. As in Delhi, voters have not rejected PM Narendra Modi. Knowing he can’t be their CM, they have chosen a popular local alternative.
  2. Regardless of rights and wrongs, the intolerance debate made very little difference to voter behavior – the two major groups Muslims and Yadavs that consolidated behind MGB and killed NDA prospects made up their minds for entirely different reasons. Nothing could have changed that.

Right lessons

  1. While voters still like Modi, they could not bring themselves to reject Nitish simply because the central government’s performance has not been overwhelmingly good. It had to be that not just because of the scale of expectations raised in 2014, but also because of the lack of suitable local alternative. This means the engine has to be revved up in Delhi.
  2. While voters may not have ‘punished’ BJP for raking up controversial issues, they have also not voted for BJP for those reasons. That’s the lesson.
  3. If BJP wants to consolidate Hindu voters across caste identities, the only unifying factor can be performance. Visible, identifiable and something that touches each citizen. Promise of performance could work in 2014, but in 2015 (and in 2019), it is results that will count.
  4. Margin of victory (in vote % terms) in May 2014 doesn’t leave BJP much room for margin of error. The clean sweep of northern states hides many weaknesses that Bihar exposes. Committed BJP voters can’t deliver the crown. The ‘floating’ or uncommitted ones need to be pursued.

Action points

  1. It pays to be humble. The message may remain same, but language of delivery needs calibration. This may or may not help to get Parliament going but will at least make it difficult for opponents to justify their own arrogance.
  2. BJP need not court minorities aggressively but senseless antagonism that delivers no tangible benefits to the majority (and doesn’t even rally them) has to stop. This is where Modi has to guide BJP to a Hindutva agenda that focuses on doing good (that few will oppose) instead of ‘teaching lesson’ (which many will).
  3. Develop local leadership. Time to plan Tier 2 for center and Tier 1 and Tier 2 leaders for various states with UP being high priority. It also supplies steady talent to the center, likes of Manohar Parikkar that BJP desperately needs.
  4. Assume Parliament is a write off, focus on thousands of things, small and big that can be done with executive actions. We have seen precious little.
  5. Reduce foreign travel. Sad but true, it is easy to electorally exploit that in a country like India. In any case, the big push has been done, now it is for the rest of MoE and team to take it forward.

Modi is a natural leader. We need more leadership from him. It could be as simple as that to make sure 2019 is a repeat of 2014.

 

 

 

Kejriwal Varanasi drama

A great actor simply makes you forget he is acting. A great comedian makes you laugh even as he stays calm, even serious. A great secret agent or spy is inconspicuous. Once your mask has slipped, game is essentially over.

Arvind Kejriwal, unfortunately has made drama and theatrics so brazen and overused, he is now seen as a stuntman and fake even if he is saying something serious.

Hence his dip in the Ganges river and the usual drama over ink pots and eggshells (which amazingly he alone seems to attract) has not gotten as much media attention as he must have hoped.  The arrest of IM jihadi chief spoiled the show somewhat. The absence of large crowds must have also mattered.

It should be obvious to anyone that he went to Varanasi on Tuesday his mind already made up to contest, for better or worse. So all this talk of ‘referendum’ was nonsense but his honeymoon with media looking for anti-Modi sound bytes ensured all that was forgotten.

We don’t care to predict if he will make a difference to the Modi campaign juggernaut. It is obvious he doesn’t care, all he wants is his continued presence in the TV screens and prime time news. Short of dancing naked in the streets, he is perfectly willing to do anything to get that. Who knows, he may even try that.

Is the baby still in bath water?

But the more serious question is, what does it mean to the campaign against corruption which is supposed to be the main focus of Kejriwal as well as his “Aam Aadmi” party?

His frequent flip-flops, hypocritical criticism of others even as he demanded and continues to enjoy perks like bungalows and chartered plane trip, business class flights by Yogendra Yadav, rabidly racist assault on african immigrants by his sidekick Somnath (who has an interesting track record and past, to put it mildly), have all contributed to the decline of AAP in middle class perception in recent weeks. Just as Pakistan needs constant bomb blasts and nuclear threats to stay in news, AAP seems to need constant flow of nautankis to stay relevant. Not surprisingly, many respectable founders and senior members have given up on the whole idea and quit.

There is a genuine risk that he is not just damaging his own prospects, but the sustainability and relevance of the entire anti-corruption platform by his words, actions and pathetic track record. In fact, the damage may have already been done.

His choice to fight against Modi, whatever his other faults arguably the least corrupt of the leaders in today’s politics, not just sucks up his personal time, which can be better spent campaigning elsewhere, trivialises the anti-corruption plank. It also marks yet another U turn of his policy not to field any existing Delhi assembly member in Loksabha polls. Looks like he exempted himself from any policy or law.

May be it provides him a convenient excuse to stay clear of Delhi, where he may be called to explain his running away from delivering on his lofty promises.

It is sad, but anyone coming out with a anti-corruption agenda will now be seen through the prism of examples set by Kejriwal and seen as a quack and non-serious. Real reform of the system has to wait. For the arrival of another messiah who will have a much steeper hill to climb.