Friday, March 1, 2024

Failure as orphan

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Success, it is said, has many fathers; and failure is an orphan. No one now wants to accept responsibility for the Congress’ failure to win the assembly polls in three Hindi-belt states. Hair-splitting arguments citing ‘facts and figures’ are trying to establish that the BJP victory in these three states, in one go, does not taste so sweet. It is easy to analyse the ‘reasons’ for the poll victories – and defeats – as long as one has the freedom to talk through his hat. Facts on the ground are that the Congress party failed to measure up to the general expectations of the people and the BJP triumphed over its principal rival. The rest could be conjectures.
Every BJP leader is going out of his way to give credit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the sweeping victory for the party in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. True, the PM addressed a series of poll rallies and held road shows in the election bound-states. The same PM had also extensively campaigned for the BJP in Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh and before that in West Bengal, but the BJP bit the dust in humiliating ways. State elections are fought on issues specific to the states. In every assembly poll, the fight is majorly between leaders therein. The fight in Madhya Pradesh, for instance, was between chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who ran the government for four terms and veteran Kamal Nath. In Telangana, the fight boiled down to a tug of war between chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao and youthful A Revant Reddy. In Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot from the same party undercut each other and defeated their own party. In Mizoram, former Indian Police Service officer Lalduhoma emerged as the dark horse and outwitted chief minister Zoramthanga through a new alliance and grabbed power. In Chhattisgarh, chief minister Bhupesh Bhagel’s leadership of the state famously disappointed the tribal belts of southern Bastar and northern Surguja and they voted him out. The Congress could win just four of the 26 seats against its win in 25 seats there in the previous polls. The vote against Bhagel was Advantage BJP.
To argue that national issues influenced the election outcomes in the Hindi belt is to ignore the ground realities. The Congress party, as a last resort, promised a Caste Census. But, larger state-specific issues exercised the minds of the people. When the Congress won Himachal Pradesh, the argument was that the government employees and their families helped in the win as the tricolour party had promised restoration of the Old Pension Scheme. The Congress having made the same promise in Madhya Pradesh and elsewhere this time courted defeat.

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