Prime Minister Narendra Modi with BJP president Amit Shah at the party headquarters in New Delhi on 23 May | Praveen Jain | ThePrint Photo
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with BJP president Amit Shah in New Delhi | Photo: Praveen Jain | ThePrint
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You don’t need to waste Thursday morning watching the counting of votes for Haryana and Maharashtra. The result is as good as known. Unless you are a politician with local interest, a political junkie invested in minutiae or a bookie with a bet, you are interested in the big picture. And that has been clear right from the word go in this round of assembly elections.

Exit polls have cleared any remaining doubts that you may have had. Yes, there is one outlier forecast of a hung assembly in Haryana. True, the outlier need not be off-the-mark and this agency has a decent track record. But all other polls indicate that the BJP is winning both states and is winning them big.

Vote share projections by exit polls indicate that the BJP-Shiv Sena combine have more than 10 percentage points advantage over the Congress-NCP alliance in Maharashtra and the BJP has more than 15-point lead over the next party in Haryana. If so, it’s no contest. My own ground sense suggests the same. Going by the exit poll records, I would not be surprised if the BJP (and its ally) ends up close to the upper-end or even breaches the range of seats projected for it by most exit polls.

Also read: Exit polls predict BJP will romp home in Haryana & Maharashtra

It happened in 1985 too

You don’t have to waste Thursday afternoon either. You can already anticipate much of what will be said by TV anchors and analysts. They will discover hitherto unknown mass leadership qualities in Manohar Lal Khattar. The BJP-Shiv Sena alliance will be presented as a model coalition, no matter how much they fought with each other for five years.

You will be told how brilliantly Fadnavis handled the Maratha agitation, though everyone held the opposite opinion a year ago. Khattar government’s meltdown during the Jat agitation would be described as a tactical political move. The BJP spokespersons will tell you that it is popular endorsement of the good governance record, never mind a few rumours about farmers’ suicide in Maharashtra or weird statistics like Haryana having the highest unemployment rate in the country.

If you have time, do read up on history. Both these elections are like the state assembly elections held in 1985, following the massive Congress victory in the 1984 Lok Sabha elections. Then-incumbent Congress governments in states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar were eminently forgettable. Bihar had witnessed utterly corrupt regime of Jagannath Mishra followed by an inept CM in Chandrashekhar Singh. In Uttar Pradesh, V.P. Singh’s short tenure as CM was followed by non-descript Sripati Mishra.

Yet, Congress came back with massive victories in 1985. Every lamp-post that secured the Congress ticket romped home. It would be ludicrous to credit the Congress victories in that election to the good governance of the incumbents. The same holds true for the BJP in Haryana and Maharashtra this time.

Also read: Has lack of strong opposition in Maharashtra and Haryana made the elections a no-contest?

Why BJP is winning

You might wish to tune in to the evening panel discussions. If you are lucky, you might encounter at least some political analysts who can see that a discontent of the voter with the regime need not lead to its defeat or, conversely, the party that wins election need not have governed well. More often than not, politics is about distracting people and uncoupling their vote from the relevant issue at the relevant level.

The BJP regime has managed to detach electoral outcomes from everyday life of the people at three levels.

First, state elections have been detached from state or local issues. As in 1980s, people now vote in state assembly elections as if they are choosing their Prime Minister. In the 1990s and the first decade of this century, the trend had reversed: in that phase, people voted in the Lok Sabha elections as if they were electing their chief minister. State politics was the principal arena of electoral choices.

Now, we are back to the Centre as the principal arena of national politics. Even if the BJP did not succeed in turning Article 370 or the NRC into electorally salient issues in these two states, there is no gainsaying the additional impetus the BJP had as a result of the echo of national politics. Every election, big or small, is now a reaffirmation of the trust in the supreme leader.

Second, the BJP has successfully detached the electoral performance of a ruling party from its governmental performance. Increasingly, elections are not about scrutinising the record of the government on specific policy decisions, but about winning generalised trust, and specifically creating higher distrust against one’s own rivals. In Haryana, for example, Khattar’s claim of procuring every grain produced by the farmer flew in the face of the data released by his own government. Yet, neither the big opposition parties nor the media could hold the government accountable to its own claims. Electoral performance is in large measure a function of the ruling party’s formidable propaganda and election machine.

Finally, this regime has succeeded in detaching politics from economics. The fate of the ruling party is on the up just when every observer agrees that the economy is slowing down. Farmers voted for the BJP in the midst of agrarian distress. Youth stand with the Prime Minister even when the unemployment rate is the highest recorded in the country in decades. Victims of demonetisation and GST are enthusiastic supporters of the ruling party.

The BJP has forced its opposition to play the game on a pitch of cultural and identity issues that work to its advantage. So, it’s triple talaq, NRC, Ram Janmabhoomi and so on. If not that, its internal and external security by way of Kashmir and Pakistan. And thanks to its near-complete hold over the media, the government can successfully distract people and dodge the real-life issues.

Also read: BJP set for victories in Maharashtra & Haryana but something has changed for Modi voters

Is fatigue setting in?

As you go to bed, while the headlines are still screaming, you might wish to reflect on these larger questions. If all elections are turned into a plebiscite on the supreme leader, would this not sooner or later turn into a disadvantage for the regime, if not for the leader himself? When the leader grabs all the credit, is that day too far when people start piling up all the blame also at the leader’s door? How long can a citizenry be kept in perpetual excitement against real and imagined enemies? How long can the vote be detached from real life issues of the voters?

At this stage you might wish to chew on the low turnout figures in these elections – a drop of nearly 8 percent point in Haryana and close to 3 percentage points in Maharashtra. Do these indicate the beginning of citizens’ fatigue?

This may be the right note to say goodnight.

The author is the national president of Swaraj India. Views are personal.

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  1. In view of the election results, are you ready to eat your own words? This is what happens when politicized intellectuals like Yadav spend all their time coming up with rationalizations of what is happening, without actually having a clue of what is going on.

    • pta nahi kaise aaj mere account m 15 lakh achanak aa gaye? Ek deshdrohi k account m aa jainge ye kabhi na socha tha. Lagta hai aaye mere acche din ab to. Ho sakta hai note bandi m jo kala dhan mila usse aaye ho! Oh! usme to kala safed ho gaya ulta. Accha tab to pakka swizz bank ko loot liya hoga humare fekuji or genda shah ji n, usi se aaye honge. Waah modi waah! App bhagwan ho humare. Hatao Ram- wam ko yaar. Lagao modi k tasveer or murtiyan.

      Aur main to kehta hu kya Ram Mandir – Ram mandir.

      Modi Mandir. Modi lala mandir. Supreme court m appeal kr deta hu Modi mandir Ayodhya m.

      Ek prathna hai modiji aapse:
      Modi ji yahan Ranchi m roads m bunkers hi bunkers kyun bunwaa rakhe hai aapne. Yahan to 370 ka koi jhamela bhi nahi. Aur pichle 20 saalo se lagatar aapka bjp raaj bhi hai. or haan mai aapko shradha se “feku ji bulata hu”

      Ranchi? Kaun Ranchi?
      Are wahi jo Switzerlank k ek state Jharkhand ka capital city hai.
      Abhi bhi yaad nahi aaya mere priya fekuji.
      Are wahi jahan se Ayushmaan Bharat lauch kiye the. Germany k bagale m hi to hai modiji. Aaya kuch yaad.

  2. Without meaning any disrespect, YY should first analyze himself. He starts off claiming to contest all 90 seats in Haryana, then midway says he could not get enough candidates because of the money power of the BJP, as if he did not know this before. Then finally his Swaraj India only contests 27 seats. Why such a huge difference? Because, according to him, he could not get sufficient number of women candidates, as they had earlier promised. In my opinion, YY is losing the ground map, by being over-utopian. He has alienated many voters by making his main antagonist – Arvind Kejriwal, instead of concentrating on the BJP. He is cock sure of everything including the results.

  3. Yogendra Yadav is a failed personality in Politics. Every attempt of Yogendra ji to win at least few faces of Citizen is also utterly failed. Look at his Party name, no body knows such a Party exists in India nor many People in India look at Yogendra as a future leader as MP or MLA. All his disgruntled opinion or sourness of a Fox is not noted or cared by any one even in Delhi Corridor. When Yogendra Ji sit in TV Panel discussion,even before opening his comments,audience knows what he is going to talk.

    • Aap ne mere dil ki baat keh di. For a political party it may well be all about politics and winning elections, forming governments even if the numbers fall short. However, for the average voter in a poor country, her choices must convert into a better future for her children. When the tide turns, people will wonder how such an elementary truth could have been lost sight of.

  4. Haryana is 3rd in highest unemployment rate what about Delhi?Arvind kejriwal will still manage to win Delhi assembly elections

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