Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar during 'Jan Vikas Rally on 19 November 2018 | PTI
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar during 'Jan Vikas Rally on 19 November 2018 | PTI
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The Bharatiya Janata Party had everything going for it in the Maharashtra and Haryana assembly elections. It’s a long list if you start counting. Since this is Diwali season, we could say the BJP had a hand of jokers. How do you not win the jackpot with a hand of jokers?

It had nationalism and Hindutva. The Narendra Modi government had just nullified Article 370 and shown Kashmiri Muslims their place. Amit Shah promised he would throw out illegal immigrants. A Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, it seems, is now going to be a reality as well.

It had PM Modi at its peak, having won 303 seats in the Lok Sabha elections just five months ago, including a sweep in Maharashtra and Haryana.

It had caste politics on its side. The anti-Jat consolidation in Haryana was supposed to have held ground, even as the Congress was unable to bring together Jats and Dalits. In Maharashtra, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had played a disruptive Maratha quota game.

If the BJP had been winning against a weak Congress, this time it was competing against a near-dead Congress. In Haryana, the Congress made Bhupinder Singh Hooda the head of the election management committee at the last minute. In Maharashtra too, the Congress battle between the old guard and the new guard left the state unit staring at a leadership crisis. The Congress did not even pretend to fight this election, busy with its own existential crisis.

There were the usual advantages the BJP has in any election: money power, a mouthpiece media, the Enforcement Directorate, the Central Bureau of Investigation, and the Income Tax Department.

Then, there was the popular face of Narendra Modi, described by Donald Trump as the father of India. The local faces, Devendra Fadnavis and Manohar Lal Khattar, weren’t doing badly either. They had both managed to create some persona around themselves.

There was not a single reason why the BJP and its allies should have lost a single seat in these two states. It should have, given the circumstances, won every single seat.

Okay, maybe opposition leaders have their strongholds, but that’s exactly why they poach leaders from opposition parties. This time, that trick hasn’t worked either.

Okay, maybe the nature of caste politics doesn’t let any party win every single seat. Incidents like the Aam Aadmi party winning 67 of the 70 seats in Delhi in 2015 are rare. Yet, the BJP/NDA should have at least won 2/3rd majority in these two states.


Also read: 5 lessons BJP must learn from Maharashtra & Haryana election results


Reality check

Yet here we are, seeing the BJP’s dream of governing Maharashtra without a nagging Shiv Sena come to naught. Here we are, seeing next-door Haryana give Delhi a reality check. The final tally for the 2019 Maharashtra and Haryana assembly elections is not clear even as we write this, but it is clear the BJP isn’t doing as well as it was expected to.

In Haryana, it is likely to fall a little short of the majority mark. It may or may not form the government.

In Maharashtra, it has lost seats compared to the 2014 tally, and pesky ally Shiv Sena is doing better than expected. The Shiv Sena will now go back from being a submissive junior player to calling the shots once again.

It is clear that if the Congress had actually tried to win these elections, like Sharad Pawar, it could have won not just Haryana but perhaps Maharashtra as well.


Also read: Manohar Lal Khattar — the BJP dark horse who cost the party its Haryana edge


Arrogance of power

Given the BJP’s hand of jokers, its shrunken numbers in these two states carry a clear message from voters. The people of Maharashtra and Haryana are clearly rejecting the BJP’s arrogance of power. All is well, Modi says, and the great Indian voter speaks up.

The arrogance has not been limited to Modi-Shah, it has percolated to the BJP’s rank and file. A BJP leader in Haryana said the EVMs were rigged in his party’s favour.

Since 23 May, Modi-Shah has become brazen in their disregard for democracy and the democratic process. Haryana and Maharashtra have sent a happy reminder that the Indian voter cannot be taken for granted, and nationalism does not fill people’s stomachs.

What happens to all the experts now who’ve believed people vote for nationalism despite economic distress? We were told ad nauseam that Article 370 was the biggest issue in Haryana and Maharashtra. In that case, why is the BJP losing seats in substantial numbers?

The voting pattern in Haryana and Maharashtra signals a growing disenchantment with the BJP over economic slowdown. It is a response to the Modi government’s denial about the state of the economy, rising unemployment, and brazen data manipulation. Headline management goes only so far.

The Congress may not have won Haryana and Maharashtra, but the BJP hasn’t won them either. It’s a reminder that the BJP is not invincible; EVMs are not rigged; the public is not drunk on Hindutva bigotry; the opposition is letting down its voters with a leadership vacuum.

The numbers are a shot in the arm for the opposition parties and will boost their morale. This should be enough for them to come out of their despondency and start doing their job.


Also read: ‘Maratha warrior’ Sharad Pawar shows why he still matters in Maharashtra politics


Views are personal.

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59 Comments Share Your Views

59 COMMENTS

  1. HAD NOT THE CONGRESS PARTY FELT DEFEATED EVEN BEFORE ELECTIONS AND INSTEAD GIRDED THEIR LOINS FOR A BITTER FIGHT THEY COULD WIN BOTH STATES . RAHUL GANDHI IS TO BE BLAMED FOR NOT ONLY THROWING IN THE TOWEL , BUT ALSO FOR PETULANT BEHAVIOUR ON LOSING PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS . THERE ARE GRACEFUL WAYS EITHER TO QUIT A POST OR CONTINUE DESPITE ADVERSITIES

    • In the interest of the Nation and Opposition Sonia and Rahul must quit Congress and should not take any part in Politics. This is for the betterment of the Party as both these two are cluless.

  2. The author in his enthusiasm has missed an important point ‘voter turnout’ in both states it is reduced and the BJP were not able to mobilise its voters as they grew complacent,it does not in anyway mean that the people trusts the congress and other parties,BJP may not have got outright victory that it expected but the opposition did not win either and it shows that the people donot trust them the Congress party is a den of corruption and it has not changed,so gone are the days that people elected thieves in the name of secularism aka sickularism ,and the Congress is the oldest player of caste politics its destruction is required for good of the nation

    • What you are saying is like I have fallen flat in the face but the dust did not touch my moustache. Real Bhakt you are and you think there is not corruption. How theypersuaded Congress/JDS MLAs to defect without corrupt practices. What about JPP how much money would have changed hands can you imagine and you talk of corruption in the Congress.

  3. It is almost embarassing to sew this kind of logic.
    In Maharashtra, BJP has roughly the same number of votes despite contesting on about half the seats.
    Not much different in haryana.

    So who are these people in your delusions punishing the BJP?

  4. With economy doing poorly , BJP should have lost both the states by a huge margin ,the victories hence are credit worthy of good PR work and reflects poorly on Congress and the opposition.

    • The Economy is still doing better than it did in 2014 by all measures – besides the voter also understands that the global economy is in a downturn with all nations suffering economic stress – this is why Communists have done well in Kerala and Congress done well in Rajasthan despite no visible economic performance from them vis-a-vis BJP states.

      It is just uncharitable to not give credit where it is due – to the CM of Maharashtra – Fadnavis and to a lesser extent CM of Haryana – Khattar who have had a very hard time navigating various local issues while implementing large scale reforms across the board. The return to power is not without a rise in incumbency but the mandate is clearly for a second term to the local Govts to continue albeit with more scrutiny – which is also good.

  5. So, BJP which contested In 150 seats, won 103 this time . In 2014, it contested in 260 seats and won 122. That too with almost same no. Of votes.
    Shivam, draws his own frustrated conclusion that arrogance has been vanquished. Not withstanding tht BJP alone won almost 2 times the seats of anyone else, more than comb total of ncp+inc.
    I think he was exp a compl rout of opp, which fortunately didn’t happen and projects this jailbreak as moral vict for them & the new buzz in town “moral defeat” for BJP. At least do a proper analysis and draw appr concl,

  6. This occasional shock in elections is good for BJP. Indian voters cannot be taken for granted. In central elections, they consider different things but in local elections, their daily needs are a priority.

  7. Haryana true to the extent but Maharashtra elections results are not as bad as it is made out to be. BJP won 105 out of 144 seats. in 2014 they won 122 out of 280 plus seats contested. BJP strike rate is 70 percent.

    its SS whose strike rate is below 50 percent.. and its interesting to see how many SS seats won are from the BJP kitty of 2014.. Also BJP rebels won many seats who lost out to SS cos of seat sharing.
    SS has fared badly this election. 220 predictions makes the result looks underwhelming which was ridiculous to start with. But alliance missed 180 , cos of SS under performance.

  8. According to Mr. Vij the BJP must win elections across India by a two-third majority. Anything less than that is actually a loss for the BJP and reflects the disenchantment of the common man at its “arrogance”. While the theory is hilarious, it sure will be acceptable to the BJP and its allies.
    As long as the NDA controls the corridors of power, it will be content, in fact happy, to concede to the likes of Mr. Vij the idiotic “masses are disappointed/angry” narrative.

    • Is there no arrogance in BJP? What have they done to expect credit. Khattar lost the Election. Why can you reflect? Abhishek Bakshi what is your definition of arrogance?

  9. BJP is not invincible: RIGHT
    EVMs are not rigged: NOT CLEAR – may be BJP did not bother to rig too many this time thinking it will win any way! notice how most opposition wins lately have been the unexpected ones. when polls predicted close runs, BJP won; when BJP was supposed to win easily, opposition won!
    the public is not drunk on Hindutva bigotry: THANK GOD!
    the opposition is letting down its voters with a leadership vacuum: YES. WHO WILL STEP UP TO FILL IT?
    (by the way, trolls, my psudo is the name of a fish in latin – no need to try and guess my religion/caste/gender from it)

    • The political thugs and their cronies (including paid unpaid trolls) often forget that what matters in a democracy is the voter. Not money, not power and not crookedness. They have limited life. Personally, my faith our great country is restored today – somewhat! My ordinary countrymen and women are above bigotry. Thank God.

      • Agreed. This is just the beginning tof putting BJP in its place. They were beginning to sound like God’s chosen people, rather than a party elected by people. See how they’ve treated Chidambram.

        Still, as Manoj also has noted, given the state of the economy, the BJP should’ve been routed.

        • LOL – God’s chosen people are those Gandhi family clowns who go around giving speeches and say they are “ready to be PM” as if that was all that it takes . Who is putting them in their place? Chidambram was treated exactly as he deserves – the crook and his nitwit son have swindled India for far too long without any consequences.

          Liberals clearly frustrated and consoling themselves with “lesser defeats” – never mind that no “liberal” actually won power – rather it was Caste politics in Haryana and Sharad Pawar in Maharastra who did better than before.

          • Hello Mazo. Seeing you after a long time.

            Where have you been hiding? Still going on and on about liberals, Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi etc.? C’mon. Show some originality.

            Time for the BJP trolls to wake up and smell the coffee. This is the beginning of the end.

            I think it is beyond your comprehension what constitutes a fair trial. Chidambram may or may not be crooked. That is not for you to decide. But it is clear (if you have a bit of intelligence) that he has become a political football with the courts being willing participants in the government’s games. Even after more than 60 days of jail and questioning they have not found anything, otherwise they wouldn’t keep on rearresting him.

            Even a murderer deserve a fair trial. At least in countries that are not banana republics – something what the BJP has turned India into.

          • The wheel always goes the full circle and the BJP leaders also will be caught under it. Only it is matter of time. Nothing is permanent and BJP rule will also pass. Be balanced don’t get carried away be humble and avoid the swagger of 1 and 2.

        • Well said, Rajiv. Our army of trolls will always find faults with every thing a right thinking individuals have to say. You must have noticed that the Supreme Leader talked about how returning to power after 5 years of ruling (read ruining) the country was a great achievement. And the same man abuses Congress for ruining the country during its 50 years of rule. How is that possible, if coming back power is the unique achievement of the Supreme Leader? I have always been amused by the way the SL and the paid unpaid trolls twist every argument and every achievement of their own. They forget that there is God, though they pretend to be believers and then there is voter in a democracy. They are making all the effort to kill the democracy though.

          • Your last sentence is most important, Indian. Individually we can be BJP or Congress supporters. It doesn’t matter as long as all of us are supporters of democracy. This is where the SL fails, and fails badly. He’s out to destroy all opposition.

          • They pay lip sympathy to God. Money is everything to them and their ilk. The ilk have forgotten the Mahatma.

        • True, Rajiv. The SL is out to destroy the country itself, is my assessment. All the policies are for the super-rich businessmen and women. DeMon was unleashed pretending to solve the problem of corruption and it started the new line of business for people on the right side of politics. The Man who pretends to be God fighting corruption and talks about sabka vikas issues electoral bonds and his party gets nearly all of them. How does that for fighting corruption? Narratives that blind bhakts sell us that SL is God’s reincarnation. It is an insult to all our God. Is it not?

          • Couldn’t agree with you more.

            This hypocrisy is peculiarly Indian (or Hindu): Modi is of course pure as the morning dew. That is because he has outsourced all the dirty work to others.

            As Sarojini Naidu once said for Mahatma Gandhi: it costs a lot of money to keep this man in poverty.

            Let’s not even start talking about electoral bonds. What about Jio? If the relationship with the Ambani is not crony capitalism, then what is? (There’s only one Ambani that counts. So I use the article The for him.)

        • Agree, Rajiv. Cronyism is the dominant approach to policy making. I met someone recently who mentioned that the headline about policy choices tell him the people that are calling shots. And the individual has not lived in India for very long. That was a telling insight for me!

    • “the public is not drunk on Hindutva bigotry: THANK GOD!”

      Typical witless liberal self-congratulation!

      The public has voted for LOCAL Assembly elections and is concerned about LOCAL issues and Local Development. In this regard, there are no “hindutva” issues in either Maharashtra or Haryana to deal with! Also, with the BJP+SS gaining a much larger vote share than before, it is clear that their base has grown – compared to earlier when they captured more of the swing vote. Plus, it has to be noted that AIMIM didn’t even win a SINGLE seat this time – was that also because the public was not drunk on Hindutva ?

      Hindu consolidation is a political reality – liberals who try to navel gaze to claim that Hindutva does not matter are only deluding themselves as neither Sharad Pawar, nor the Congress in Haryana can afford to ignore that or stray outside the lines. Liberals seem to confuse the BJP with Hindutva – which is not the case.

      • Yet another one with problems of logic. How many are there?

        BJP and Hindutva are not connected? Which world do you live in?

        Who is against Hindu political consolidation? The last I heard was that India has always been a Hindu nation since 1947.

        Hindutva people are fake Hindus. This is what broad-minded Hindus are fighting against.

      • “Liberals seem to confuse the BJP with Hindutva” , errr…. you mean “Liberals seem to rightly equate the BJP with Hindutva”?
        Mazo, either you are deluded past helping or you are a paid troll, in which case you are not to blame since you are only doing your job. but your engish skills being better than the average bjp-it-cell, i guess that it is the first case. is that right?

  10. Was BJP arrogant with power? Yes, definitely. Or else, they were pretending to be invincible when in their heart they knew of many insurmountable challenges they faced. Obviously, issues like 370 had no relevance, whatsoever. There were many other state-level relevant issues. First was the inevitable anti-incumbency after completion of one term. Add to it economic slowdown mainly due to factors external to the state; but the state suffered the most being the most industrialised. No wonder, consequent job losses hurt BJP’s prospects. Natural calamities – drought and thereafter devastating floods. Growing agrarian distress and farmers’ suicide. Then issues like Tree-cutting and PMC Bank fraud created lot of confusion and dislike for the state government . Implementation of the debt waiver scheme was not up to the mark. BJP knew that this election was not an easy task. Moreover, they had to comply with seat sharing arrangement with Shiv Sena, which gave way to many rebel candidates hurting the Party’ prospect. I am reminded of the Gujarat Assembly elections where the BJP just scraped through. A similar situation was prevailing in Maharashtra. It is no mean achievement that the Alliance has returned to power – a first for any non-Congress government. Notwithstanding this, BJP is crestfallen, as they had set the bar unduly high. A target of 220 out of 288 was laughable. Ardent supporters of BJP , Modi-Bhakts and gangs of WhatsApp social media groups believed that BJP would do the miracle – they were ridiculously naïve. Good that the opposition will be strong this time. Good for democracy and good for governance. Maharashtra has chosen wisely.

    • So you are saying 162 vs 98 in a NDA vs Opp is a strong victory for the opposition akin to Gujarat elections ?

      I agree that there was some element of trying to keep the BJP in check – this was mostly due to the BJP going aggressively after Sharad Pawar and this was seen as bullying by the BJP. Also, the maratha movement and PMC scam hurt the Govt. Also, the shortcoming in land compensation for Bullet train project hurt the BJP in Western Maharastra.. What didn’t play a part at all was the Aarey dairy tree cutting – which NOBODY in Mumbai gave 2 paisa about except some left-wing extremists.

      But overall the sentiment in the state was definitely pro-BJP. Also, let us make no doubt about it – the people of Maharastra didn’t vote for or against Modi – they focused on local issues and local problems – to say that this vote reflects a sentiment against modi-shah is deeply misleading.

      • When the target was set at ‘minimum220’ and you get just 160- a shortfall of 60 seats, is it success? Same thing happened in Gujarat. Barely a hundred against target of 150! Now see the composition of 160- BJP has just got 105 , which means that it is far away from the absolute majority requirement of 145 seats. Independents cannot help them to attain majority on their own. BJP is now depending on the Sena. The balance has tilted in Sena’s favour. If Congress, NCP and Sena come together they can easily form the government, with an offer to the Sena of CM post. The Congress has now openly made the offer. Furthermore, all is not well within the alliance. The Sena chief had openly declared that it was rotting in the alliance. Day after day, it was carrying out tirade against the BJP in Samana. I don’t think it is a possibility. But the Sena now had an upper hand and will stop playing second fiddle. They are bound to take revenge of five years of humiliation and neglect within the alliance. They will demand Dy CM post and important ministries like Home and Revenue. Fadnavis has been cut to size.

    • LOL I thought 2019 was supposed to be 1977 again – what happened ?? If you have given up on the voter then clearly you are no democrat – just a fanatical leftist.

      Democrats win because they believe in the people – ideological zealots lose because they believe their ideology is more important than what the people want.

    • Guess this is called a win win situation. Ruling party and supporters happy because they are back in power, opposition and supporters also happy because performance better then expected.

      • The BJP is bad for Indian democracy. Period. The same way Indira Gandhi was between 1975-77. And she was rightly thrown out.

        Everything does not need to be seem through the filter of party support. If you love Indian democracy and institutions, you MUST oppose the BJP. The same way so many people opposed Indira Gandhi.

  11. !! Asatyam Shivam Sadaa Sandesham !!

    Shivam We…zzzzzz in a nutshell:
    21/10/2019: Flip
    23/10/2019: Flop
    24/10/2019: Flip
    ………………..
    ₹₹₹₹₹₹₹
    ………………..

    • What for “The BJP should send Rahul Gandhi a garland made of ten tons – a full truckload – of rose petals”? For doing nothing?

    • You should send it to Modi and Shah for not getting majority in HAR and MAH despite invoking Article 370 which no one was interested in these States.

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