The Assembly elections results of May 19 are a decisive pointer to the cluelessness and lack of direction of the Congress Party, especially under the tutelage and control of its first “dynasty”. With all his melodrama, cheap pot-shots, tactics of stalling Parliament and lending support to forces and formations that called for India’s destruction, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi could not pull it off. In fact, the Congress’s loss can only be attributed to the maverick and jerky style of politics that its vice president follows and especially to the support he had lent to the anti-India forces that called for the country’s dismemberment.
Rahul Gandhi went out of his way to express solidarity with lumpens who called for “Bharat ki Barbadi” and spat on the vision of the “motherland” while berating the emotions that express themselves through a worship of the mother country. He underestimated the galvanising power of nationalism among the ordinary people, his action of defiant support to the anti-India elements did not take into account the emotions of the multitude who still feel an innate and palpable identity with the vision, concept and physical contours of India. The lumpens, in whose support Rahul Gandhi galloped, are of course nowhere to be seen now, having forsaken him to mourn all by himself his most recent political debacle they have receded, for the moment, into their ideological burrows.
Ever since the summer of 2014, the Congress under the Gandhi’s has been misreading the public mood. It had calculated that uncontrolled opposition to a government which had won the largest mandate in three decades and in it to the leader, who had made that mandate possible, would pay rich dividends and bring about a paralysis of governance that would directly benefit the Congress. The Assembly election results of May 2016, two years after the BJP led Narendra Modi government came to power, have proved the Congress wrong. As BJP president Amit Shah said, people want to see action in terms of governance, delivery and performance and the present results have actually inaugurated a new era of “performance based politics”. Those who do not perform, or do not allow others with a legitimate mandate to perform would, themselves eventually perish politically. The Congress’s fate this summer is a reflection of that. The politics of aspiration cannot be arrested through petty obstructionism goaded by the constricted aims of protecting an individual or a family.
The results are also a stark and sharp reminder to the Congress leadership that its future does not lie in being beholden to the “family” anymore and that its eventual survival depends on respecting and nurturing a leadership that grows through and is connected to the soil and roots of India, a leadership which has a connect and bonding to the people and does not live in a false paradise of its own making that is limited to the Lyutens zone of the national capital.
For the BJP, the summer verdict of 2016, has established it as a pan-India party and the dream of making an entry in the Northeast of India has been accomplished with aplomb. Years of hard work, years of toil at the grassroots, often under the most trying conditions, years of connecting with the people and struggling along with them to highlight their issues in the region have finally yielded results. Those who had written off Amit Shah after the Bihar elections, those pundits who had revelled at the thought of his loss need to also now record that it was under Amit Shah that the BJP finally won and decisively won Assam, a feat that instantly turned it into a party that had now stamped its footprints across the whole of India, literally from Kanyakumari to Kashmir and from Somnath to Kamrup.
In West Bengal and Kerala the BJP has made inroads and after years of struggle succeeded in registering its presence, this in itself is a first step and in any case the BJP leadership was clear that in these two states the objective was to register a presence within the Assembly. That the BJP could make inroads in these states despite the adverse circumstances – in Kerala, for example, Communists goons repeatedly attacked and threatened BJP workers and leaders – is itself a sign of its resilience and determination to stamp its symbol all across the country. Both in West Bengal and in Kerala the BJP has ramped up a vote share of over 10% as well.
The Communists in West Bengal have been shown the door, their opportunism and political duplicity has been exposed and rejected by the people. Its alliance with the “bourgeois” Congress smacked of revisionism and could not deliver anything respectable. West Bengal for all practical purposes has rejected and banished the Communists for at least quite a while. In fact, except for Kerala, the comrades have been made irrelevant nationally. Their attempts to raise a bogey of “intolerance”, “communalism”, and “conflict” through coteries of self-styled intellectuals and drum-beaters from across the various lounges of the privileged Lyutens clubs made it oblivious to the real pulse of India.
Neither the communists support for “Barbadi lumpens”, neither their demand for “privilege motions” when exposed in Parliament on their support to these elements, neither their relentless propaganda against prime minister Narendra Modi in the country and through international forums could propel them to greater power. What is required, for them now is to engage in serious introspection – ideology has definitely gone for a toss and cadres have been left confused. For the cadres to see the communist parties in an opportunistic alliance with the Congress in West Bengal and in a battle with the same party in Kerala decimated any pretence of ideology based politics. The Communist parties have actually emerged the masters of barter politics shorn of any dialectical or ideological pretensions.
The results have again made a course correction for national politics, further marginalising the Congress, cornering the Left and pushing it towards greater irrelevance while giving the BJP a stronger foundation, as Amit Shah observed, “It has laid a strong foundation for victory in 2019.”