2012 ASSEMBLY POLLS: WAKE UP CALL FOR NATIONAL PARTIESby opinion express April 1, 2012 0 comments
The people have delivered their verdict and before the 2014 General elections, the message is loud and clear – a wake up call for the national parties. Several factors have contributed to the SP’s kitty, anti-incumbency being just one of them. The Upper Caste or Brahmin vote which had aligned with the Bahujan Samaj Party enabling it to form a Government of its own, failed to work this time. The ‘Social Engineering’ flopped though Chief Minister Mayawati rehabilitated the party’s Brahmin face Satish Mishra and gave tickets to large number of Brahmins as the community felt that the development, if any, was con- fined to Ambedkar villages and perceived as provocative and wasteful the lavish spending on statues of Dalit icons. Added to that was the Dalit leader’s total disconnect with the masses, communication gap with the media and growing dependence on a motley crowd of bureaucrats and sycophants.
On the other hand, the Congress concentrated solely on the Muslim card and this last minute rhetoric and aggressive wooing only proved counter- productive. The party, which till date, never took cognizance of the Sachar Committee Report or implemented the Rangnath Mishra Commission report was suddenly concerned about their plight. Statements about UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi weeping over the Batla House encounter victims, though later clarified, only served to distance the community further besides alienating the majority Hindus as well.
The BJP, on its part, was a deeply divided house, seeking to cash in on the popularity of an ‘imported leader’ even as it ignored its own charismatic state leaders such as Varun Gandhi. The party’s poster boy Narendra Modi avoided the state altogether exposing the chinks in its armour. The Kushwaha episode also did not add to its credibility.
Apart from restoring its credibility among Muslims, who had divorced Mulayam after his ‘unholy’ alliance with Kalyan Singh, the credit for SP’s performance also goes to the emergence of Akhilesh Yadav as a leader to reckon with, one of the major highlights of this election. With his earthy wit and style, Mulayam junior was able to charm the large number of young voters, who saw in him a fresh breeze and a future leader.
Of course, the promises of unemployment and health doles, computers and other sops also contributed immensely in adding to the SP’s kitty and if the party falters on these, the same voters would show it the door in the 2014 general elections. An over estimation of Manpreet Badal’s ability to divide the Akalis, inability to woo Dera Sacha Sauda voters and Captain Amarinder Singh’s failure to match up to Badal senior’s stature and appeal proved to be the Congress’ undoing in Punjab while in Uttarakhand, incumbent B.C. Khanduri’s image appears to have saved the day for BJP. Much would also depend on how BSP would play its cards in the state. Absence of a credible opposition and the entry of Naga People’s Front helped the consolidation in favor of the ruling Congress in Manipur while the massive corruption seems to have queered the pitch for the party in Goa.
Of course, the civil society activists or the anti-corruption movement launched by them also hurt the Congress across the country. Congress would certainly be on the back foot, particularly ahead of the Rajya Sabha and Presidential elections later this year. The BJP too would do well not to rest on laurels if it retains Uttarakhand and Punjab and wrests Goa from Congress. The results in electorally crucial Uttar Pradesh shows it has miles to go before the Lok Sabha elections in 2014. There is no credible national leadership that guides BJP today and the state leader- ship are fighting to build supremacy over each other rather than going to the masses. The every decision made lacks proper planning and the account- ability factor is drastically missing with the party leadership. RSS is an obsolete organization trying to bring wild ideas in a old country but having young population.
As for Congress, it is time for serious introspection. Otherwise they would end up the ‘India Shining’ way. The talk in the party is that Rahul’s ‘Mission UP 2012’ collapsed due to off the cuff remarks, controversial comments and raking up of sentimental issues by senior party leaders including Union ministers.
A section of the party contends that the 4.5 per cent reservation for minorities decided by the Congress-led coalition at the Center just a few days before the announcement of the election schedule did more harm than good for the party. This section says that detractors of the party were quick to project the move as one detrimental to interests of backward Muslims in UP. The statements of Union Minister Salman Khurshid on the Muslim sub- quota issue added fuel to fire, while, at the same time, antagonizing the Election Commission.
The statements of Union ministers Beni Prasad Verma and Sriprakash Jaiswal did not help matters. The raking up of the Batla encounter issue by Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh also appeared to have not gone down well with the Muslims. Such statements appeared to have helped the BJP to polarize the voter to a certain extent. Party leaders insist that sizable sup-port from Muslims in the 2009 elections had ensured the Congress to win as many as 22 Lok Sabha seats giving the first signs of the revival of the organization in its one-time bastion. But the Muslims may have shifted away this time, they feel.
Congress has been in political wilderness in UP for the past 22 years in the wake of the Mandal and Mandir upsurge. In almost all of these 22 Lok Sabha seats, Muslim vote was crucial ranging from two to three lakh and in con- stituencies like Moradabad it was upto six lakh. At that time, a sizable section of Muslims was having second thoughts in backing Mulayam Singh Yadav as the SP supremo had tied up with Kalyan Singh who was the BJP chief minister during demolition of Babri Masjid in December 1992. The statements by some leaders of likely imposition of President’s rule in UP if the Congress failed to get majority created an atmosphere of instability and sent the signal that the party was not confident to form government on its own. Congress in UP, a section feels, failed to present a united picture in the campaign as leaders started making one upmanship to project themselves as the chief ministerial candidates.
As against this, Yadav went methodically to correct his mistakes and win back the Muslim support that had earned him the sobriquet of Maulana Mulayam for the way he protected minorities after the demolition of Babri Masjid.Mulayam brought in his son Akhilesh Yadav as the Uttar Pradesh SP chief giving unmistakable signals that the younger Yadav will battle it out with Gandhi for the UP turf.
Inputs PTI & Courtesy K.G. Suresh is a Delhi-bbased senior journalist .