Friday, November 28, 2014

And They Call It Tsunami


            After the assembly elections for Haryana and Maharashtra, there are people, including Bhartiya Janta Party president Amit Shah, who have announced that it is 'Modi-Tsunami' in both the states. BJP leaders have also expressed their beliefs that the assembly elections in Delhi, Jharkhand and Jammu & Kashmir will prove the repeat performance of this 'tsunami' in coming months.

            I know that it looks foolish to swim against the tides and place the bare facts before everyone. But, I have certain questions in my mind which surely need to be answered. BJP has got a clear majority in Haryana with 47 seats and 33.2% votes. But can one ignore the fact that when around 1 crore 30 lac people went to polling booths why around 90 lac of them casted their votes against BJP? Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made it a point to have clear majority in Maharashtra, why then voters of Maharashtra did not give him a mandate to form the government without having the support from the people to whom he was 'the bird from Passeriformes order who becomes active during the fortnight of ancestors' (Pitrapaksh ke kouei)? Why out of 5 crore 20 lac voters who went to cast their votes in Maharashtra 3 crore 70 lac chose to go against the creator of this 'tsunami'? BJP could win 122 seats in Maharashtra, but it could get only 1 crore 47 lac votes.

            Nobody can deny the fact that Congress has not even lost but ended up third in Haryana and Maharashtra. It ruled Haryana for 10 years and headed the government in Maharashtra for 15 years in a stretch. Therefore, losing like this where you get only 15 seats in Haryana and 42 in Maharashtra, that too after a visible change of development and growth in both the states, should be a matter of deep introspection for the entire leadership of the Congress party. But I would take the liberty to pose some pertinent questions. If it was the continuation of 'Modi Hudhud' that started four and a half months back, how could a party with whom Modi wants the nation to get rid of attract nearly 1 crore voters in Maharashtra and more than 25 lac in Haryana? Congress has no right to celebrate the fact that BJP has come down in both states since May 2014. BJP had leads in more assembly segments in Maharashtra and Haryana during Loksabha elections than the actual seats it has won in October assembly elections. But a fact is a fact, however minor it is, and it should be taken note of.

            There are some more alarming indications that have come up from the results of these elections, specially from Maharashtra. It is now little more than a year since Supreme Court has given electorate the power to reject all candidates in an election by pressing NOTA, None Of The Above, button on the electronic voting machine. 'Modi Tsunami' is a phenomenon of last one year and normally nobody should probably feel like pressing this option if the country is obsessed with Narendra Modi and BJP. Why then in Maharashtra nearly half a million NOTA votes were registered? 50 lac may look a very small number. But do you know that this is more than what 9 political parties managed to get together in Maharashtra? And who are these parties? They are Samajwadi Party and CPM.  They are BJP's allies Republican Party and Rashtriya Samaj Paksh. It should be hard to ignore the fact that in a Naxal-affected constituency Garh-Chirouli, Nationalist Congress Party could get only 770 votes more than NOTA. BJP won there, NCP was second and NOTA was third with 17510 votes. What NOTA got in Maharashtra election is the figure which is more than what has given two seats to All India Majlis-e-Muslimeen, three seats to Bahujan Vikas Aghadi and one seat each to Bharipa Bhaujan Mahasangh and Rashtriya Samaj Paksh in the state assembly.

            Congress now has to address the challenges it is facing quickly, decisively, firmly and fearlessly to reinvent itself. No other party than Congress can lead the fight with a person of Narendra Modi's bulldozing persuasion without caring for democratic principals, electoral norms and human values. A strongly self obsessed man, that he is, Modi will go to any extent to achieve his dream of 'Congress free India'. While marching on this path, he will ruthlessly implement his plan of making irrelevant the individuals in his own party, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its extended arms, strongly or loosely allied political groups and national icons. Congress, therefore, has a huge national responsibility to save the basic threads of our national fabric. Congress has to gear up without blinking and giving a second thought. India cannot revive its fortune unless Congress reinvents itself. It has to bring the real sense of politics under one umbrella.

             The hidden facts of these assembly elections seem not so discouraging for the Congress but it should not become a pillow of consolation on which one can take a siesta. Unless a roadmap of root and branch reforms is implemented immediately, Congress will find it increasingly difficult to win the confidence of voters. The rot in Congress has been long in the making and it is high time that Congress gets rid of its rent seekers. Only then Congress would be able to give a fitting reply to those who think that Modi has already setup a stall to get his second inning in 2019. Those who have some experience of witnessing the political storms from time to time and understand the political grammar of a complex country like ours would agree that there is still much hope of bouncing back for a party like Congress that led the movement for freedom, that united India and brought people of different religions and languages into a single political project and that has a universalist vision.

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