PM Narendra Modi at the BJP Parliamentary meeting in New Delhi
PM Narendra Modi and BJP President J.P. Nadda at a BJP Parliamentary meeting in New Delhi | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
Text Size:

According to an ancient Greek legend, Sisyphus, the king of Corinth, infamous for his wrongdoings, was condemned to roll a boulder up a hill only to have the boulder roll back down to the bottom every time Sisyphus neared the top of the hill. An eternity of fruitless labour.

Like Sisyphus, the BJP appears ‘condemned’ to repeatedly win elections without ever delivering quality governance. They usually have little to show for its efforts, but they still win, repeatedly.

A Washington-based global agency observed that India’s economic condition is “worse” than it’s ever been before and that this is primarily due to the government’s failure to impose a “planned” nationwide lockdown. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a relief package that promised free food for 800 million migrant workers, one out of five workers, allegedly, received nothing.

In such circumstances, one may expect the citizenry to express disappointment at the polls. However, no dismay was reflected in the most recent assembly election in Bihar, where the BJP garnered wide public support and emerged victorious.

In the year 2014, Modi was the world’s second-most popular elected leader, according to Facebook, and he also emerged as the most-followed head of state in the world on Instagram recently, with more than 30 million followers.

As has been debated extensively, BJP’s tremendous victories in the past years, have a lot to do with its brilliant offline and online campaign tactics, its powerful grassroots support base and robust party organisation. While several other political parties in India have made great strides in revamping their social media tactics to have an upper hand during elections, BJP and Modi clearly enjoy a lead.

Poor governance is helping BJP

However, with tens of millions of Indians lacking access to basic banking facilities, worsening social and political antagonism in the country, several people dying every year due to lack of access to nutritious food and tens of thousands falling prey to sovereign failures — what does it say about the quality of governance being delivered by the political party that is so good at winning elections?

In many ways, it remains a puzzle how consistent election victories by the BJP and poor-quality governance can and have co-existed.

After all, the fundamental premise of democracy is the ability of voters to trounce policymakers who fail to deliver quality governance and if the so-called “bad” policymakers are still thriving in such a democracy, it means something is awry either in the working of the democracy or in popular perceptions of how democracy truly functions.

Ironically, there’s a good chance that the poor governance is exactly what is helping the BJP emerge victorious consistently.

While our knowledge of why the Modi government has been unable to provide quality governance in the form of building a stronger economy or reducing income inequality is still imprecise and incomplete, the changes in the social landscape of our country under BJP’s rule are much clearer.

The BJP has been exploiting social cleavages such as ethnicity as a means to garner majority public support. Ethnic identity tends to function as a commitment device and serves as a hallmark of the policymaker’s credibility among co-ethnics. By mobilising ethnic lines, the party has taken unacceptable advantage of the traditional, entrenched, pre-existing social hierarchies and this has enabled them to communicate with the voters more effectively.

From the ‘love jihad’ propaganda to the passing of the Citizenship Amendment Act — the party has oft-times resorted to divisive politics. Unfortunately, a large number of Indians have internalised casteism and these individuals, in an attempt to try and prevent the collapse of a traditional and social patterns of dominance, have become extremely susceptible to such tools of divisive politics.

‘India’s democracy is Janus-faced’

The use of communal elements by the BJP has resulted in several mob lynchings, and a dramatic rise in divisive and polarising content on social media. While low-level political discourse has always existed, the BJP has been instrumental in establishing a type of populist style of politics that allows hate speech to thrive and even be endorsed in public spaces.

The BJP government has also consistently made promises that it has failed to keep. As political scientist Ashutosh Varshney puts it, “India’s democracy has become Janus-faced. Political power is used at the time of elections to please citizens. Between elections, it is often used to treat citizens in an unfeeling manner.”

It is important to note that the low-level of political discourse can have severe repercussions in the form of threats to national stability and security but it is also inadequate to reiterate the obvious fact that political parties do operate on communal lines.

In fact, I argue that effective containment of this rapid proliferation of polarisation can be possible only by radically decolonising of our minds, which can be done by educating ourselves and looking at the world from a wider perspective.

So yes, the BJP is perhaps better at winning elections than it is at governance but unlike Sisyphus, the political elites of the party are rather blessed than condemned.

Shrushti Sharma is a student of Kamala Nehru College, Delhi.

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it

India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.

But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.

ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.

Support Our Journalism

VIEW COMMENTS

7 COMMENTS

  1. It’s really good that, print is giving youth opportunities for expressing their opinion. But this one fall short in terms of considering bigger picture. Literally the examples quoted of bad governance are of only during pandemic. Even when a densely populated country like India is doing very well as compared to our ideal west developed countries amid pandemic.
    If u introspect with big vision, you will notice that winning Elections is only possible because this is the only government which has a very determined political will power to take big decision along with portraying india’s image with maximum efficiency on international platforms.
    And i and you are no one to say that this decision , policy, bills are wrong, as every thing has its supporters and opponents. But the thing which a government must have is the will power and management to take those decisions without doing financial scams like before 2014.

    Today India is producing startups every day.
    Iphone, Samsung , mi ,Amazon , etc had opened mammoth size factories , companies in India. And swatch bharat abhiyan remains in the mind of every indian. Some follow or some not but unlike UPA’s Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (this name even most of the indians must not have any idea) , SBA is a inspiring force for cleanliness of India.

    Teen talaq, 370, Make in India, Jan Dhan Yojna, Mudra yojna, Ayushman bharat yojna and there are tons of other policies which are helping poor in their daily lifes.
    And now aatmanirbhar bharat is inspiring a lot to Indians to build their own startups , products. Well i can write even much more. But i think you got me @shrusthi sharma.

    If you want to portray the negative of NDA then pinpoint the polarising of political scene in India. That’s the main problem with BJP followed by their alliances and opponents.
    Otherwise don’t say the things in one word. Individual person’s life doesn’t work objectively rather it is complex & subjective .
    Then what the say about Indian Democracy. You must see both side of coins.

  2. The issue is that Indians especially Hindus know how hindus in pakistan are treated the issue is they don’t hate the opposition but vote the bjp to power because of fear of what will happen if India population become a hindu minority country, but mainstream indian media even right wing has failed to raise the issues regarding treatment of Hindus in islamic majority nation and Hindus are in minority and since majority of India has understood this theythey are going vote for a party that best represents Hindu interests whether the media likes it or not.

  3. ‘In many ways, it remains a puzzle how consistent election victories by the BJP and poor-quality governance can and have co-existed.’

    One possibility is EVM rigging – they are capable of it, they have no ethics. When murdering Indians for power has been their standard method, what is EVM for them ?

    The other factor is the Hindu’s false pride. They backed Modi thinking Hindus will be elevated. Hindus have not been elevated, they are lying in the gutter, but false pride prevents one from admitting it.

    Hindu nashe mein hain, nashe uttarney dho !

    • Aa gaya sickular jihadi andhchamcha comment mein bhokne, bjp haare toh theek, jeete toh EVM. Burnol laga le liberandu

    • Mr rasogulla

      If evm was the case , BJP should have won Rajasthan, Odisha , kerela , Delhi , MP , Karnataka and Maharashtra and 2015 Bihar election.

      If I believe you then if evm can be hacked by not there be fake paper ballots ?

      These stupid logic to discredit people’s mandate is just shows the frustration of BJP haters.

      The fact is people has fath in govt.
      People on the ground are getting the facility.
      Money is reaching Poor’s account. People are seeing roads and electricity. People are listening how Terror attacks are avoided. How Terrorist are captured.

      Most important reason of BjPs win is last of trust in opposition leader. Where ever opposition have won trust of people is strong BJP get hard time.

      BJP will keep winning elections if opposition doesn’t start working hard on ground and put forward promising alternative leadership Infront of people to chosw

Comments are closed.