Some reasons for the outcome of the 2009 Lok Sabha elections
Post-election analysis of India’s 2009 Lok Sabha elections is on big time. All over the media, amongst the people and behind closed doors in secret meetings. Two parties. The BJP and the Left. Opposite ends of the spectrum. Both falling flat on their face. WHY? BJP’s loss is being blamed on everyone from Varun Gandhi and Modi to Rajnath Singh and L.K. Advani. In Sunday’s Indian Express Tavleen Singh also blamed the Hindutva ideology which she feels had gotten stale. Issues such as BJP going against the nuclear deal upset people too, and I was one of them. And some say that tickets were given to the wrong people…
But as some wise people said, each state had its own reasons. Regional parties like the MNS did the BJP and the Shiv Sena mischief in Maharashtra. In Rajasthan they say it was the reservation (Gujjars) issue…
The BJP played the game wrong. It was all just a game after all. Parties are supposed to have ideologies but in reality only a few individuals have any inclination to follow them. Parties crush anyone whom they believe threatens the survival of the party even if the person is simply following the ideology. They will encourage those who go against their ideology if it means more votes. The survival and growth of the party is paramount. Parties (and I mean all parties) will sacrifice India as well, without blinking.
The Left has gone from 61 seats in 2004 to 25 in 2009. It is a decimation. Some reasons being offered are their opposing the nuclear deal and almost bringing the government down over it and their opposition to most economic reforms. Their game plan to tie up with AIADMK instead of the DMK, trying to forge a so-called Third Front (which now seems a joke) all apparently helped to take them down. The dictatorship of Prakash Karat and the infighting in the Kerala unit points to leadership failure. But most important, the forcible land acquisition for industry by West Bengal’s communist government worked against them. When the Nano was forced to pull out of West Bengal Ratan Tata blamed Mamta and her Trinamool Congress, but the people of West Bengal have sided with Mamata, not with Tata. The ruling state (communist) government trying to industrialise the state has been shown the door, at least in the Lok Sabha.
A lesson for the so-called communists is that they should take cognizance of the fact that this is a democratic nation. The communist tactics of force do not work in a democracy. Forced land acquisition may work in China, not here. I could not help thinking of the forcible sterilisation campaign led by Sanjay Gandhi which led to the downfall of the Congress in the seventies.
In any case selling economic reform to the poor and lower middle classes in exchange for votes doesn’t work. Political analysts have always said that economic reforms do not win elections because those who benefit, the middle classes and the rich, don’t come out to vote in large numbers, not in India. Chandrababu Naidu, who spearheaded economic reforms in Andhra Pradesh found out the hard way when he lost the Chief Ministership in 2004. The BJP lost power in 2004 they say because of the India Shining campaign. India wasn’t shining for the poor was it. And today if the Congress won it’s not because of the economic reforms that Manmohan Singh wants to push through or because of the nuclear deal, but because of smart politics, pandering to vote banks, playing caste politics, offering freebies, clever allocation of seats and in Maharashtra letting the MNS rear its head. However the Congress also won because the BJP made some blunders. Today if I think of the BJP I think of one word: Confused.
We have another five years of the Congress ahead. One hopes that the few good individuals in the party do good work and India’s infrastructure improves, particularly the educational infrastructure, so that every Indian has a fair chance of participating in an India Shining. The opposition should focus on national interest and not oppose the government for petty party gains. I see hope as there are fresh faces in parliament this time round. In Uttar Pradesh for example, sixty per cent of the sitting MPs who contested the elections have lost. And those criminal candidates who fielded their wives because they could not contest, lost. Now, there is the hope. That the fresh faces make a difference.
(Photo credits: bbc)