Cong’ resurgence because of rural distress is the big story of assembly polls

ROHIT CHANDAVARKAR
Tuesday, 11 December 2018

The results of assembly polls, out on Tuesday, have surprised many and shocked many. Most political observers felt that these were ‘the semi-finals’ of the big 2019 general elections that are just four or five months away. The state assembly polls were closely watched by political leaders, corporates, media and the masses closely. There are many take away points that are coming out with these results but the biggest one is that these polls mark the resurgence of India oldest political party i.e. the Indian National Congress (INC).

The results of assembly polls, out on Tuesday, have surprised many and shocked many. Most political observers felt that these were ‘the semi-finals’ of the big 2019 general elections that are just four or five months away. The state assembly polls were closely watched by political leaders, corporates, media and the masses closely. There are many take away points that are coming out with these results but the biggest one is that these polls mark the resurgence of India oldest political party i.e. the Indian National Congress (INC).

Till just a few months ago, the BJP supporters were heard on social media claiming that the party will now rule India for the next 50 years! This confidence came because of the repeated success that the party achieved under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah. BJP’s ‘election machine’ looked and seemed invincible till recently but the way India’s Hindi heartland has voted makes it clear that the Modi-Shah duo are now not invincible and people still think that Congress is a credible option which they can go back to if the BJP does not deliver its promises.
 
The second take away point from the results is the fact that the rural masses are now showing signs of being unhappy because of the long-standing agrarian distress and the problems the rural economy has been in. The Modi government’s decision to go for demonetisation hit the rural sector very badly according to the government’s own assessment and that distress is now resulting in people losing faith in the BJP. Spokespersons of the party have been now openly saying on national channels that the government must look into how to solve farmers’ problems.

In the past few elections happening in various parts of India, including in Narendra Modi and Amit Shah’s own Gujarat state, a clear trend is being seen of the urban middle and higher middle class supporting the BJP in a big way and rural masses going against the BJP. A similar trend has been seen in the Hindi heartland states this time. If this trend continues, it will be difficult for the BJP to face future elections because, after all, over 65 per cent population still lives in rural India. Just spreading messages on social media about the government’s so-called good performance will not help BJP save the situation. They have to now actually start delivering governance.

Pune-based Member of Parliament (MP) Sanjay Kakade, who was elected to the Rajya Sabha with the BJP’s support, floated a video message on social media which went viral in the city. In his message, Kakade said, “The BJP must not keep aside caste or communal issues and political over mandir and masjid and go back to its development agenda which was first floated by the party in 2014 polls. Otherwise, facing the next big polls will be tough for the party”. If the BJP has to hear such words from one of its own leaders the party really needs to put things in perspective about what exactly is going wrong.

The rise of K Chandrasekhar Rao and his continued influence over people is another aspect which must be seen carefully. His governance was remarkable. His building hospitals and other public utilities for the masses has paid a dividend. It’s a clear example of how people are openly expressing the desire to have agenda of development and not that of communal or religious issues.

To be fair to Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Raman Singh, one must understand that they were facing anti-incumbency factor very severely and despite their best efforts, they could not achieve the desired results.

The story of these polls is all about how the states will provide a strong platform to the opposition parties in this country even if they are not strong enough in the Lok Sabha. The political battles in the coming months and years will be more interesting to watch.

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