The BJP has a running grudge that the exit polls have been consistently under-projecting its tally in all elections since 2014. It is worth recalling the exit polls had forecast a BJP government in the 2015 Bihar assembly elections, but when the actual counting began the Mahagathbandhan won. The psephologists had written off the RJD, Congress and Nitish’s JD(U) at that time.
Obviously, the BJP allegation does not stand scrutiny as it is no more than propaganda. Prime Minster Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah have been expressing confidence of the elections going their way. The exit poll predictions of Friday left Congress jubilant and the BJP worried. Exit polls showed that the Congress was winning or at least leading in BJP bastions of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
The defeat of Congress in the 2014 general election primarily owed to its wrong priorities and divided loyalties. There was a horizontal division in the party between the urban people and the rural poor. The UPA government led by Dr Manmohan Singh was perceived as an instrument and the Congress as a political party having the welfare of the rich and the urban people at its heart. Even when the policies benefitted the poor, an impression was created that he was for the rich. The real nature of development that took place during his regime could not be perceived in the correct perspective.
When L K Advani launched a vicious campaign against Dr Singh and gave him the title of “Mauni Baba”, Congress suffered a perspective crisis and was resoundingly defeated. The BJP hyped up the issue of corruption. The tempo of clean government and corruption free governance helped the BJP win the state elections after Modi became prime minister. An insight into the defeat of the Congress would unravel the truth that in the hurry to project Rahul Gandhi as the new leader, the party committed hara-kiri. The urban rich and the middle classes perceived the Congress as its enemy, while the rural poor looked at UPA as its class enemy. The decline in the spirit and mood of the Congress, which ruled India for nearly 60 years, reduced the party to the second rung and the party leadership appeared lacking in tenacity to uphold leadership quality.
The likely victory of Congress in the latest polls primarily indicates the defeat of the pro-urban rich and middle class policies of BJP. Modi and his cohorts openly fielded for the rich. Modi’s anti-poor policies, like stopping food for the poor and slashing of NREGA proved to be his Waterloo. Modi and his ministers must realise that India is a country of poor and any policy has to keep in view the needs of the poor. Damage has already been done and it is unlikely that it would be rectified by 2019 elections.
Modi has committed a blunder by asserting Congress-Mukt Bharat. He could not comprehend the deep inroads Congress has made in the psyche of the people. His hitting below the belt has not met with the approval of people.
Congress leader Sachin Pilot, who is the main contender for the top post in Rajasthan, said “The anger was very palpable against the BJP in these elections and people were willing and happy to accept the blueprint given by the Congress. People want answers for questions which they have avoided for the last five years as price rise, farmers in distress, economy is collapsing.”
Modi’s fancy survey asked people to record their views on a number of issues, including demonetisation. “Do you mind the inconvenience faced in our fight to curb corruption, black money, terrorism & counterfeiting of money? To which: 43% of respondents replied “not at all” and another 48% ticked the option “somewhat, but worth it”. Only 8% of people answered “yes” – they minded the inconvenience.
While Modi’s website does point out that the survey’s results are only initial and has requested “more citizens to actively participate”, this process has not been entirely fool-proof. “A lot of the people who are suffering the most are not people who can get on the Internet and access apps in any case. The people who are suffering the most are people who are living in remote areas, where banks are very far way. People who don’t have access to plastic money are the ones who we see queuing up all the time and are most badly hit,” a respondent said.
One of BJP’s main planks in the election campaign has been deride Rahul Gandhi and present him as a failure. But now it appears that people have accepted him. It primarily owes to his pro-poor stand and not for his resorting to soft Hindutva.
A preliminary analysis of votes polled makes it clear that worst loser has been the BSP of Mayawati. The result is certainly a warning to her that she must stop treating herself as the super Dalit leader as more able Dalit leaders have emerged in the political scene. Instead of consolidating the Dalit votes, she has been dividing the anti-BJP voter base. But this time she has come to realise that people have rejected her design. Obviously, this election has weakened her bargaining power for 2019 and this will motivate the Jadav Dalit to shift towards the new force the Bhim Army. (IPA)