THE 2017, 5-STATE ELECTIONS: SOME JOTTINGS
- Akhilesh and Congress alliance was a sensible idea. It was potentially powerful but did not work. Nothing suggests that in its absence the parties would have done better.
- And both did reasonably well in their campaign, given what they are. Both worked hard enough. If they had succeeded few would have been surprised.
- Those who criticize and find wisdom in hindsight cowardly kept mum when they should have spoken up. So, they should better share the blame, if any.
- Failure ought not to negate every effort. Don’t judge efforts merely by results in isolation of the totality of context. Failure is often not connected with effort. [My old article ‘An Anatomy of Failure’ has argued this a long time ago]
- In terms of voting shares the BJP performance is not proportionate to its seat grab, at least in UP. That is the trick played by the ‘largest vote-gatherer’ principle. That is why it is time for proportional representation.
- “The voters are wise” is a myth. Their behavior never reflects consistent wisdom and prudence. Indeed, they err more often than they get it right. And for that matter democracy based on adult franchise and one-person-one-weight is not the wisest system, either
- BJP got its OBC calculation very right. That was a strategy that paid off. Plus I dare think that when they felt the going bad they attempted polarization, and it worked. By invoking Qabrastan and the light of Ramadhan they sent their opponents to Shamshan before Holi fires!
- Congress badly needs good communicators and regional leadership. I can fault the Gandhis at least for:
- Ignoring regional satraps, not promoting regional / local leaders. We seldom saw other than Rahul campaigning vigorously.
- Totally failing in the art of communication. Rahul is a very poor communicator.
- Their campaign did nothing out of the box. It was mediocre.
- BJP has been working on the ground for two years in UP, building bridges, establishing networks.
- Plus it made promises it can hardly be expected to keep. But it knows more than you and I that
- The voter’s memory is too short to matter in the long run
- They are masters at deflecting issues and creating newer issues when this issue hots up
- Demonetization was not felt by a large population quite as bad as you and I thought. Voters were not merely those that queued up before banks. Those that had nothing to do with banking – or the big notes – actually thought this was a good thing to do, and credited Modi with sincerity precisely for that reason. BJP opponents devoted too much campaigning against this and this boomeranged.
- Vast sections of people, specially Hindus, – contrary to what the enlightened minorities of India think – perceive Modi as sincere.
- There is a general, global trend of turning to the right. India is even more susceptible to this trend. BJP was perceived – correctly – as the most Right
- BJP has been traditionally an “anti” party: anti this, anti that. It excels in this. But SP-Congress and even BSP followed suit and offered very little positive action plan in most of their campaigning. Imagine saying: ‘We do not wish to indulge in war of words with Modi, but here is what we propose to do if you give us a chance’.
- SP’s old loyalists probably felt alienated due to Mulayam’s plight.
- Babri Masjid: Can BJP keep this promise made discretely by its local netas?
- Loan waiver: Can it afford to waive off agricultural loans?