By Sagarneel Sinha
Although the BJP is going to form the government again both in Haryana and Maharashtra, the voters have given a strong message to the saffron party. The message is — to give more time to other important issues like the dwindling of country’s economy, rising unemployment issue and the agricultural crisis. It must be noted that the saffron party in its campaign for both the states heavily banked on strong nationalism — by raising the topic of Article 370 and even attacking Pakistan from the election rallies.
It is not that voters of Haryana and Maharashtra are against the move of diluting of Article 370 or are not aware of the evil intentions of Pakistan. But these are national issues and already voters had voted for the Lok Sabha elections giving BJP a huge mandate. And this time these were state elections — where obviously everyone expects local issues to dominate.
However, BJP thought otherwise. It thought that issues of nationalism would strongly work on its favour. Starting from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to home minister Amit Shah, also the BJP president, all they had to talk about were Article 370, NRC and Pakistan. They didn’t even bother to rake up the issue of rising unemployment, which according to reports is the highest in recent years, and the agrarian distress across the country.
Nevertheless, the voters have shown the mirror to the BJP leadership. Despite all but one exit polls predicting BJP’s huge victory in Haryana — even with claims of touching the mark of 70 — the party couldn’t even manage to bag the required 46 seats in the state assembly. Although the party, which got 40 seats, is set to return to power with the help of Independents. The undeniable fact is — this kind of result was something beyond the expectations of the party — with heavyweight cabinet ministers of Manohar Lal Khattar government biting the dust.
Seems that the major mistake that BJP did in the election campaign was to ignore the issue of unemployment that particularly cost the party in Haryana. The latest figures of Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) has ranked Haryana as having the highest rate of unemployment in the country. BJP, which is known across the country for developing a well oiled machinery to register victories, this time seems to have failed to notice the sentiments prevailing in the ground. It banked on social alliances by combining various non-Jat groups. But voters of Haryana have clearly sent the message that the social engineering weaved with shades of strong nationalism doesn’t work at the cost of local issues.
BJP’s overconfidence riding on strong nationalism somehow didn’t go well with the voters of Maharashtra too. Although the NDA has won enough numbers needed to attain the majority mark, the unignorable reality is that seats of BJP and its ally Shiv Sena has reduced with Sharad Pawar led NCP-Congress alliance performing well in the regions of cotton growing Vidarbha and the sugarcane belt of Western Maharashtra. The results clearly indicate that the rural voters of these regions affected by agrarian distress have voted against the BJP.
Without bothering to listen to critics, the saffron party didn’t leave any stone unturned to make the nationalist issues dominant at the cost of the local ones. But the result is clean and clear. Obviously, it is no way a rejection of popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose popularity still remains high. But the fact is it is a voter indication that the BJP should shed its arrogance of being juggernaut after the massive victory in the Lok Sabha elections held this year. It is a warning from the electorates not to take them for granted for being all time voters of the saffron party. Also, the voters have plainly rejected BJP’s imposition of its own favourites ignoring those issues what they were expected to keep in mind that these were state elections.
For now, BJP has to give a stop to rake up the issues of Article 370, Pakistan and to implement NRC all over the country. Instead party should now take the issue of dwindling of economy seriously by not taking it lightly — that it’s just a global phenomenon. The party should also instruct its leaders including various ministers of states, MPs and MLAs not to make unnecessary comments on critical issues. Such ill statements only give a negative image to the voters — that the party is only interested in those issues that heavily polarise the voters.
Apart from that, seems that party’s hunger of power is something that didn’t go well with the voters. So, it’s time for BJP to ponder over the massive induction of whoever knocking the doors without any checks. Such hunger of power ignoring the critical bread and butter issues of common man will certainly enrage the voters. However, despite BJP not giving much importance to such issues, voters in Haryana at least made BJP the largest party in the assembly while in Maharashtra, although with reduced number of seats, gave NDA a clear mandate. This is a warning from the voters to the BJP to correct its wrongs, particularly related to rising unemployment and bad economy. (IPA Service)