Friday, 16 March 2018
UP By-Elections – Perception vs Reality
Two seats lost by the BJP in the UP by-elections and the knives are out. Three states won in the North East, a few weeks earlier and not a sound was uttered other than blame the EVM’s.
Opposition parties are predicting a huge win in the 2019 elections IF they can resolve all their differences and IF they can come together on a common platform and IF they are able to stay together, given their huge differences, to govern India.
Mamata Banerjee has pronounced that the “Beginning of the end has started.” Rahul Gandhi has announced that the “Voters are angry with the BJP” forgetting that his own candidates lost their deposit in these elections. Every opposition leader is rubbing their hands in glee and some journalists are already predicting that we will see another ruling coalition next year.
I wonder where these politicians and journalists get their enthusiasm and how easily they go through their mood swings after each election. I also wonder where they have started to hear the “alarm bells”. They are clinging to straws in the strong winds of the BJP wave that has been sweeping across the country since 2014 under the leadership of Prime Minister Modi.
Every BJP loss is a reason for celebration and everyone sounds the death knell. Every BJP win is a reason for rationalisation on what went wrong and what could have been.
On the other hand, Yogi Adityanath has accepted the mandate of the people and said that they will do introspection and plan ahead. Defeat in these elections must have hurt him the most given that he has represented the Gorakhpur constituency for 5 consecutive terms. But in his defeat he has shown grace. He has accepted that the party did not factor the unlikely alliance between the two rivals. He has also accepted that his party and his party workers were over-confident in these elections.
Most importantly the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh has congratulated the two winning candidates. Something that none of the opposition parties have learned to do over the years whenever they have been faced with humiliating losses.
Unlike past elections where opposition parties blame everyone and everything for their loss other than themselves, I have not heard any BJP spokesperson blame EVM’s or try and rationalise why they lost.
Quite clearly, the 2 seats are an aberration in the voting process given that the two arch rivals Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have come together with the sole objective of defeating the BJP. What were the deals agreed to between bua and bhatija for these elections will definitely remain a well kept secret! The BSP desperately needs support to get a few seats in the Rajya Sabha to remain relevant and they need the SP support for their candidates now and in future.
Will this deal between bua and bhatija be able to flow through into the general elections next year? Even if this deal does not break apart, what will happen post the elections? Who will rule the roost? Bua, Bhatija or Netaji, waiting patiently on the sidelines? I would guess that behenji will come out the winner in this arrangement.
The success in these by-elections is a replication of the Bihar elections when two completely unlike parties with completely different leaders with vastly differing agendas, Nitish Kumar and Laloo Prasad Yadav came together with one objective to defeat the BJO. After winning the elections, the brotherhood between the two leaders was trumpeted all over the country and yet we know how long that alliance lasted and how quickly Mr Clean, Nitish Kumar realised his folly in tying up with Rashtriya Janata Dal.
The opposition is a motley group of leaders who have seen varying degrees of power in the centre and at their state over the past two decades. Dinner diplomacy has been attempted for as long as I can remember and while the photo-op holding one another’s hands makes for good press coverage, no one sees the daggers that each person is holding behind their back.
Political power gives a high like no other and it energises the cadres of each party like nothing else. Coalition governments have been the norm in India for the past few decades and we have seen new norms being set in corruption, inefficiency, political jockeying and political compromise.
The electorate is very intelligent and knows where they want to send a message to the party they want in power. They know that they can never return the corruption and violence ridden politics of the past in the state of Uttar Pradesh
The psephologists analyse trends and pretend that they know what’s coming. The last few elections have established that these political pundits have been more often wrong than right.
The opposition euphoria will be short lived as has been the case in so many previous elections. BJP is a very strong party with an incredibly efficient election machinery. The Karnataka elections are up next and I am sure the BJP is preparing for this.
At the national level, do we really want another term of the UPA with all its contradictions, infighting and uncertainties? Do we want lucrative ministries to be carved out for political parties based on the number of seats that they contribute to the coalition? We have seen this for ten years and I would be surprised to find too many individuals who did not express their frustration on the functioning of the UPA Government. And finally, do we really want to hear another comment on coalition dharma and that compromises are the norm in coalition politics?
“One swallow does not make a summer” said Aristotle and nothing is further away from the truth as we look at the results of two seats in the Lok Sabha By Elections.
“If wishes were horses, beggars would ride. If turnips were bayonets, I'd wear one by my side,” wise words from an old English poem from 1628. Politically incorrect language today but conveys the meaning better than any other set of words!
It is too early and too presumptuous to start writing the epitaph of the Bhartiya Janata Party by looking at the result of these by elections.
The author is the founder Chairman of Guardian Pharmacies. A keen political observer, he is an Angel Investor and Executive Coach. He is the author of 5 best-selling books, Reboot. Reinvent. Rewire: Managing Retirement in the 21st Century; The Corner Office; An Eye for an Eye; The Buck Stops Here - Learnings of a #Startup Entrepreneur and The Buck Stops Here – My Journey from a Manager to an Entrepreneur.
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