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'The BJP is at a pinnacle just now'

Last updated on: November 16, 2020 09:54 IST

'The BJP and RSS accept that the party is winning election after election because of Modi.'
'If the BJP is winning due to Modi, it will also lose due to Modi.'

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi being garlanded by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, right, and Bharatya Janata Party President Jagat Prakash Nadda, a day after the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance won a simple majority in the Bihar assembly election, November 11, 2020. Photograph: Vijay Verma/PTI Photo
 

"Poverty, employment, delivery by government, law and order, roads, etc -- these issues are going to be very important in the next national election which is still four years away. At that time there will be no Corona crisis and the BJP will not get the benefit of doubt from voters," Professor Rajiv Kumar, head of department of politics, Mahatma Gandhi Central University, Motihari, tells Rediff.com's Archana Masih.

What are the primary takeaways from the Bihar verdict? What does it reveal about the state and its impact on the Centre?

The takeaways are:

1. The mandate shows a dichotomy. While people wanted change on one hand, there was also scepticism about the options available because voters still have a memory of Lalu's government 15 years ago.

People did not want Nitish Kumar as chief minister, but they were also doubtful about the Lalu era.

2. Both coalitions have got roughly 37% of the vote. It shows that voters were divided and confused and felt that no party was good for the common voter.

3. It also shows that people expect development and delivery from the Centre and state government.

4. Employment is a big issue with the voters.

There is an undercurrent of frustration among the youth about joblessness. People want jobs in their states so that they don't have to migrate.

5. This election marks the end of the Lalu era and the emergence of Tejashwi as the new leader.

6. Small parties like AIMIM, VIP have got 5, 4 seats which happens when people do not have a clear choice.

7. Poverty, employment, delivery by government, law and order, roads, etc -- these issues are going to be very important in the next national election which is still four years away. At that time there will be no Corona crisis and the BJP will not get the benefit of doubt from voters.

The Bihar election will have an implication on the national level.

This has been the BJP's best-ever performance in the state. How do you see the party's progress in Bihar from here on?

The BJP has no state leadership in Bihar. They gave tickets to many young leaders and their distribution of tickets was better than other parties.

The BJP's leadership has become very centralised. Its leader is popular and authoritative. He has complete command and control of the party.

This can fetch results in the short term, but when a leader becomes very popular, it diminishes the party.

The BJP and RSS also accept that the party is winning election after election because of Modi. If the BJP is winning due to Modi, it will also lose due to Modi.

The BJP is at a pinnacle just now, but it also needs to introspect about its centralised and aristocratic leadership, its desire for large-scale privatisation including profit making public sector undertakings, otherwise they will be in trouble in the next national election.

What do you see as the dynamics of the new government with a weakened Nitish Kumar and a stronger BJP in Bihar?

The BJP is 21 seats up compared to last time, but it is still not the single largest party. The vote share is almost the same for both the NDA and the Mahagathbandan.

It shows that people are not happy with the present government of which the BJP is a constituent.

Strategically, the BJP distanced itself from Nitish Kumar and played Chirag Paswan against him.

People's anger was primarily more towards Nitish Kumar because there was no Bihar face of the BJP they could direct their ire towards.

If you see the almost equal vote share, it shows that there was no wave for the BJP and both coalitions are equally placed. It shows people are confused, but at same time doubtful about the options available.

You will find a similar situation at the Centre also at present.

Modi is strong at the Centre, but complaints against him are growing at the grassroot level because we are accepting the US way of economic development.

Most of India is rural. The BJP is trying to change the perception that India is not agriculture based, but a trade based country.

There is a great divide between rural and urban India. Modi's style of functioning is urban based, industry based and capitalist.

The Congress performed very poorly in Bihar.
As you say, Bihar politics has implications on Centre, but it shows once again that the Congress is not up to the mark to take on the BJP at the Centre?

The Congress got 9.5% vote share. Bihar is still not Congress mukt, they have some presence on the ground.

The Congress is existing and struggling with its own problems. The party needs an overhaul which has been advocated by some within the party.

A perception has been created in social media that Rahul Gandhi is incompetent. Similarly, there is a perception about Modi being a strong, competent leader, in spite of what is happening at the border with China.

But all perceptions that are being created are under threat because there is a simmering dissatisfaction about unemployment and total privatisation in the rural parts of India.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

ARCHANA MASIH