(The article was originally published by India Today on March 10, 2022. Views expressed are personal.)
One important message from this round of Assembly elections is that “for the people” governments and leaders will be given the mandate “by the people”. Old politics of dynasty, caste, religion and opportunist alliances do no longer cut any ice with the electorate. From Uttar Pradesh to Uttarakhand to Manipur to Goa, people asked only one question: Why should we reject a government that delivers and is backed by a towering leader like Modi who has delivered? And the same question, in a different way, was put by the people of Punjab: why should we vote for a government that squabbles, and not delivers?
In other words, the beneficiaries of good governance spoke up. It is a good augury the political maturity of Indian voter will help bring good politics and good governance in the country. It will put onus on leaders to perform and deliver.
Frankly speaking, why should people of UP reject Yogi? There should be some reason for people to get disenchanted. In the last five years, Yogi Adityanath provided a corruption-free administration, tackled the law and order situation very well, handled the Covid pandemic efficiently, ensured rations for every eligible citizen, and started attracting investment domestic and foreign into once dreaded destinations in the state. Like Modi in Gujarat, Yogi too attracted the attention of not only the people of UP, but the entire country. His detractors can only cite his ochre robes as symbolising a mix of religion and politics or, maybe, some rogue cattle on the streets in the agriculture-rich state, as anti-farmer. But the electors of UP showed that they can handle both as they are too silly and simplistic reasons to let go of a government that gave them so much.
Same is the case with other three states, where despite intra-party hiccups, the governments performed well in attending to the needs of their citizens. Remote North Eastern state of Manipur has seen five peaceful years under the incumbent CM Biren Singh. No blockades, bomb blasts and curfews in the state in last five years, a record of sorts for the state. Uttarakhand and Goa too experienced corruption-free and people-friendly leadership in the last term. In Punjab, where the BJP needs more time to build its grassroots party infrastructure, people decisively voted for a party that was able to kindle their welfarist hopes.
For the people to return the mandate to the same party in the four states, another well known and big factor is Modi. Modi is a hugely popular leader capable of carrying the party on his shoulders across electoral battles successfully. The seven-year government of Modi has delivered enormous amount of goods to the doorstep of millions of people. Dozens of his welfare programs benefitted women, youth, downtrodden, SCs and STs across the nook and corner of the country. Those beneficiaries are today standing up for him defying old politics. Where there is a “double engine” good state level leadership, Modi will be unstoppable.
This election verdict has sealed the fate of the Congress party for good, as many political pundits observed. In the process, it has sealed the verdict of the next round of elections to states like Gujarat, Haryana and Karnataka too. Victory of the BJP in those states is more or less a foregone conclusion now. Towards the end of next year come elections to four more big states Rajasthan, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana. With Congress in a complete shambles, the first three states will most likely see BJP back in power, while it may spring a big surprise in Telangana, presently ruled by a loud-mouthed regional satrap with grand national illusions. It is bound to have some ripples in other states too, predicting about which will be a bit premature.
In other words, after a couple of setbacks, these elections have released the BJP juggernaut once again that will be unstoppable for many years to come. The BJP doesn’t bring good political performance alone, it also brings with it a good political philosophy. In the 75th year of independence, the BJP has set the ball rolling for the nation to reinvent itself. Mahatma Gandhi talked about complete independence as a state when the “social, economic and moral” freedom is achieved for its last citizen. The ‘Amrit Kaal’ that Modi talked about is when such a transformation takes place in the national society. The BJP, with the backing of the entire Parivaar, is wedded to that political philosophy of social, moral and economic transformation of the society. Incidentally, the Indian electorate seems to be clearly and wholeheartedly endorsing not only Modi and the party, but that political philosophy too.