Anti-Congress vote sets the mood for 2014 election
The verdict from the state assembly elections is not the best possible result for the BJP, with two states seeing neck-to-neck fights, but in view of the clear anti-Congress vote the BJP has got an edge, says Sheela Bhatt.
The voters of the Hindi-belt are furious with the Congress.
The party has no place to hide as the results pour in from New Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh giving a clear picture of the mood from a significant area in the Hindi belt that consists of 70 Lok Sabha seats.
In Rajasthan and New Delhi, the Congress stands exposed, paying the price for the arrogance of its leaders, price rise, corruption and misgovernance.
The days of the Congress posturing for the aam aadmi are over is the message of the stupendous victory of Arvind Kejriwal and his fledgling party in New Delhi.
The anti-incumbency at the Centre has also impacted the voters of Madhya Pradesh, New Delhi and Rajasthan, claim Congress leaders as the results trickle in on their television screens.
A senior leader, who is close to Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, told Rediff.com, "The BJP has acquired mastery of micro-management. They excelled in networking at the booth level."
He was particularly dismayed to see the results from Chhattisgarh where the Congress felt it would win comfortably just a month ago.
Notwithstanding the close fight in Chhattisgarh, the verdict gives enough indications that the anti-Congress mood of the Hindi-belt area is likely to impact the party's fortunes in the 2014 general election.
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Image: Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi.
Kejriwal decimated Congress in Delhi and the BJP gained by default
In Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and New Delhi, the anti-Congress vote gave magnificent victories to BJP and Aam Aadmi Party candidates.
The poor number of seats that the Congress won reveals the party organisation is completely paralysed, there is not even a semblance of micro-management of the election, and that its local leadership is discredited.
Rahul Gandhi and his team's claims that they have been building the party for the last eight years from below upwards stand exposed.
In New Delhi a new party has been born. The one-year-old Aam Aadmi Party has trounced the 128-year-old party.
This election belongs to Kisan Baburao 'Anna' Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal and those young Indians who gathered at Jantar Mantar in August 2011, disregarding the ridicule of the powerful people of New Delhi.
They made honesty, simplicity and transparency in Indian politics 'fashionable'. In New Delhi, for the last few days, it is the 'in-thing' to say 'I voted for Kejriwal.'
BJP spin doctors claim that "AAP candidates told their voters to select Kejriwal as CM and Narendra Modi as PM."
The AAP won votes because voters thought corruption in Delhi would be kept in check if Kejriwal's party won a majority. Delhi-ites thought Kejriwal's victory means paying less for electricity and water.
The BJP says in its defence that naming Dr Harsh Vardhan as its chief ministerial candidate one month before the election reflected poorly on the party's unity. That was clearly advantage AAP.
It is clear Kejriwal is the giant-killer.
His politics is exciting, credible and his drive and leadership have given jitters to the BJP and the Congress in equal measure.
Privately, BJP leaders are quick to discredit the Aam Aadmi Party, dubbing Kejriwal a "one-film wonder."
In New Delhi, Kejriwal decimated the Congress and the BJP merely gained by default.
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Image: Aam Aadmi Party founder and giant-killer Arvind Kejriwal.
Anti-Congress vote helped BJP more than pro-Modi vote
In spite of the saffron surge in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the troubled state of Chhattisgarh voted differently.
The killings of 27 Congress leaders on May 25 and the resultant sympathy factor saved the Congress's honour even if the party loses the state at the end of the day.
It is alleged that the Congress had a covert understanding with the Maoists in Chhattisgarh's tribal areas to win votes. Congress leaders had alleged that Chief Minister Raman Singh was favoured by the Maoists in the 2003 and 2008 assembly elections.
The Indian voter is a beautiful combination of pragmatism and sentimental instincts. Chhattisgarh's tribals could not have ignored the heinous Sukma massacre.
Once again, Indians who love democracy have reasons to rejoice on the day of an electoral verdict where it gives the power-seekers the right messages in many different ways.
The BJP's prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, held more than 100 rallies in Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, but in Delhi and Chhattisgarh, the Modi magic could not take the party to decisive victories.
What is important is that all over, the anti-Congress vote helped the BJP more than the pro-Modi vote.
It reveals that even though Modi's charisma was an important factor in these elections, he and the BJP have been told by voters to work harder in the coming months.
Most importantly, Modi will have to unfold more positive ideas and a national agenda if he wants the leadership of the country.
When this line was conveyed to a confidant of Modi, he told Rediff.com in a bitter tone, "Till the people of India give the BJP 220 seats, the English media and critics will keep arguing that there is no Modi wave. Please keep writing such nonsense so that we keep winning."
The Congress's crushing defeat in Rajasthan is its harshest debacle because here the Sonia Gandhi-Rahul Gandhi supported political formula of welfare-oriented schemes and pro-poor governance was on test. It has been completely rejected.
The message seems to be that just giving freebies won't work for the party, and if it wants to put up a credible fight against Modi, then it needs a new strategy.
In Rajasthan, the Congress provided one of the highest budgets under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme, gave free medicines worth Rs 700 crore (Rs 7 billion) and gave pension to elders, but nothing worked.
Only good governance, smart implementation of welfare policies and a leader who can speak the language of the middle class seems to work with the Indian electorate.
The Congress, it seems, lacks all three.
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Image: The BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
India is changing, but nothing is changing in the Congress
To save itself from a rout in the general election, the Congress will have abandon the culture of sycophancy and the politics of pretension and posturing in public.
The Congress's divide and rule policy among the poor and middle class is failing the party. The rural and urban and the middle class versus poor class divides are now not as sharp as before.
The political message from the Food Security Act and the Aadhar scheme is half-baked. More than welfare schemes itself, the proper implementation of these schemes is imperative.
Even though Raman Singh and Shivraj Singh Chouhan fully support the Congress-mooted ideas of freebies, their political message is not divisive and does not isolate the middle class in their states.
The widespread use of television and mobile phones has changed the ways people perceive their leaders. The BJP is learning this faster than the Congress.
The BJP leaders's language -- particularly Modi's boli (colloquial language) -- is easier for the class that flaunts mobile phones in urban areas, towns and rural areas.
A fortnight before the election, farmer Suneri Singh in the Neem Ka Thana town of Rajasthan told Rediff.com, "Agar hamare area main Congress jiti to meri bhains le jana! (If the Congress wins in my area, come take my buffalo!)".
The farmer was so furious with Congress candidate Ramesh Khandelwal that he was ready to part with his beloved buffalo while debating the election scenario in his constituency.
Khandelwal (who got a ticket from the Rahul Gandhi-monitored screening committee) lost by more than 34,000 votes to Prem Singh Bajore of the BJP.
India is changing, but nothing is changing in the Congress.
The party is not standing up to the challenge that Modi has thrown. The filing of cases against Baba Ramdev, putting Anna Hazare in jail, pushing or withdrawing cases as per its convenience against Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati and leaking of tapes to try and trap Modi is not helping the Congress party win elections.
It is no surprise that Rajasthan and MP are lost because Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi could not unite Congressmen there.
At the top, the party is in disarray with old Congressmen trying to retain their turf even as Rahul Gandhi acquires more and more power to run the party as per his desires.
With the help of Madhusudhan Mistry, he distributed tickets in Madhya Pradesh while in Rajasthan he depended on C P Joshi. In both cases, state Congress leaders indulged in betrayal and deception to garner tickets for their faithful.
Rahul Gandhi's formula of dos and dont's while giving tickets are always flouted.
There will be a number of articles to prove how the Modi magic worked or didn't work, but behind the scenes Modi certainly helped unite the BJP in New Delhi and Rajasthan.
Sunday's verdict is not the best possible result for the BJP with two states having neck-to-neck fights, but in view of the clear anti-Congress vote, the BJP has got the edge.
Modi has got a chance to go the whole hog with his game-plan of a 'Congress-mukt Bharat.'
Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Congress President Sonia Gandhi and party Vice-President Rahul Gandhi.