Out of my mind: A new idea of India

The size of the BJP’s victory exceeded all expectations and takes us back to the great days of Congress dominance in UP.

Written by Meghnad Desai | Published:March 12, 2017 1:12 am
election results 2017, elections 2017, election results narendra modi, modi, PM Modi, uttar pradesh elections, UP polls, Uttarakhand polls, Manipur elections, Goa polls, Punjab polls, BJP, Congress, sp, samajwadi party, BSP, Mayawati, AAP, Arvind kejriwal, BJP victory, BJP win, india news, indian express news The Congress has survived elsewhere as a credible party. (Source: PTI photo)

The big story of March 11 is the damage done to local parties across the five states. The Samajwadi Party (SP) and BSP, the two parties which have shared power in Uttar Pradesh for the last two terms, have been humiliated. The BSP has paid a heavy price for playing old-fashioned votebank politics. Akhilesh Yadav took a gamble on combining with the Congress by giving them 105 seats. As I had said here then, the Congress has no base left in UP. It does not have grassroots members, only candidates for seats. It has taken the SP down with itself. The size of the BJP’s victory exceeded all expectations and takes us back to the great days of Congress dominance in UP.

The Congress has survived elsewhere as a credible party. The key is the absence of the family in the campaign. Rahul Gandhi concentrating on UP helped the Congress everywhere else. Local Congress parties could breathe easy and fashion their own strategy. It was not easy. Amarinder Singh had to fight hard to retain his hold over the Punjab Congress. He returned to Punjab from the Lok Sabha and won decisively. Regional devolution may yet save the Congress from the incompetence of the Family. Of course, you never know. Rahul may take credit for Punjab and put Sidhu in charge as chief minister. Let us hope not.

The big loser in Punjab is the AAP. Arvind Kejriwal is a man in a hurry to make his party a national presence. It is premature and the voters have given him thumbs down. Goa was also an adventure for which the AAP was unready. You cannot build a national party in an amateur fashion. It requires patience and a lot of work at the grassroots to build a credible multi-state party. Now the attention will shift to the AAP’s record in Delhi and people will punish it for its juvenile theatrics. In 2019, the AAP will not be a large player.

It is the BJP which is the winner beyond all expectations. I had predicted it as the largest single party in UP but not with such a huge majority. UP being the iconic state in India’s political history, the BJP has now proved itself to be the hegemonic party across India. The baton has decisively passed from the Congress to the BJP and it will not be easy to dislodge the BJP from its perch.

Even so, notice how similar the approach of the BJP is to what the Congress used to do in its heyday. The leadership is centralised and even more personalised. Nehru, Indira Gandhi and even Rajiv Gandhi led from the front. The local leaders had walk-on parts. This is what has happened in the BJP. Goa was lost because Modi was busy in UP. Even Manohar Parrikar could not deliver.

There is now little doubt that 2019 is likely to see a return of Modi. He won in 2014 because the country needed a new Idea of India. The Congress secularism had failed to deliver the social and economic uplift of Muslims as the Sachar Report showed. Modi has brought inclusive growth across jati and religious vote banks. Growth has no jati nor a religion. If the growth rate can keep up for the next seven years, the Idea of India as a Union of all communities will gain recognition.

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  1. Z
    zizek
    Mar 12, 2017 at 3:39 am
    As much as my opinions concur with this writer, I would rather advise him not to write such intellectually shallow piece. Statements like 'had already said that', 'Modi will return in 2019', 'AAP may evaporate in 2019' etc. are things which every politically aware reasonable Indian knows. So, please either write something intellectually stimulating or else give this space to someone else!
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      ak dev
      Mar 12, 2017 at 12:38 am
      AAP can't survive as a political party for long. They will loose Delhi also in next election.
      Reply
      1. T
        Toshi
        Mar 12, 2017 at 5:22 am
        tanu NO MATCH FOR FASCIST DICTATORIAL ANTIWOMAN RIGHTIST ANTILIBERAL BJP WITH SECULAR LIBERAL PROPOOR PROWOMEN N ReAlly working for preserving the consutional integrity THe congress!!! PLZ DONT B PREMATURE TO spread the praise of bjp from england sir!! educated people like me r living in this regime n seeing who is really working n who is only talking!!! there was no intolerance during congress regime n people behaved as true Indians not Hindu or Muslims!! BJP is DAMAGING INDIA n nothing else!!!
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        1. T
          Toshi
          Mar 12, 2017 at 5:26 am
          tanu WILL NEVER support divisisive politics of bjp n wil work together with like minded Indians to reject this politics of hate n dictatorial atude!! very soon people wil realise wat ber they committed by going for bjp!
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            Anil
            Mar 12, 2017 at 6:49 am
            That does not seem to happening-- UP in 2014 and bigger in 2017! People are realizing their mistake all right---- about supporting the hi family for so long. That won't happen again. The same Amarinder who's done such a good job in Punjab for the Congress had to issue an ultimatum to Rahul last year to be allowed to lead the party. Otherwise it would have been the AAP in Punjab and the Congress would have splintered and died. Now it can limp along for a little more under Rahul and a disaster called Priyanka hi who masterminded the catastrophe in UP.
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              ansuman
              Mar 12, 2017 at 1:03 am
              With family politics on death bed --Modiji can move ahead with nation building.Public has shown no respect to corrupt and inept -still they all will hang around the corner ,cursing Modi, BJP and RSS. Some will change color and their political father ,other will die crying but people will rejoice and move ahead.
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              1. M
                Mathews
                Mar 12, 2017 at 3:55 am
                BJP and MODI will live long and longer if they work for a PROSPEROUS BHARATH
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                  Babu Gupta
                  Mar 12, 2017 at 11:41 am
                  The first reason for BJP's landslide is Modi's charisma (includes clean image and dynamic work); second reason reason - Demonetisation which deprived corrupt parties of most of black money for election and third reason is that majority of people are fed up with the rhetoric of bogey of secularism (or vote bank politics in its name. Majority Hindus felt that secularism is against them in every respect); other reason - from family enterprise to cadre based party in politics, etc.
                  Reply
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