By Harihar Swarup
Election results to five state assemblies have exhibited many firsts. For the first time the Aam Admi Party sprang a surprised when it romped home with a majority in Punjab, leaving far behind the Congress, Akali Dal and other parties. This is also for the first time that APP has stepped out of Delhi. If Kejriwal’s party moves at this pace, it is certain to become a national party from a regional set up.
Punjab poll has seen Congress in a very poor light. As a columnist wrote the ruling congress party has been working to loose election. This came literally true otherwise why should Rahul Gandhi and other Congress leaders remove well entrenched Capt. Amarinder Singh as chief minister who was confident of leading the Congress party to victory. What was a need to make Novjit Singh Sidhu PCC president without consulting CM. From the first day Sidhu started working against the CM. He missed no opportunity to destabilize CM and attacking his own government.
Surprisingly both Amarinder Singh and Sidhu lost election. Amarinder is a well established leader of Punjab and has the credit of defeating BJP’s senior leader Arun Jaitley in the last Lok Sabha election. One wonders what will be his future.
Also for the first Yogi Adityanath will be chief minister of Uttar Pradesh for a second term. No chief minister in the most populous state of India got a second term. It is always said in political circles that “one who rules UP rules Delhi”.
The poll results also demonstrated a resurgent BJP who may be forming governments in four states, except key state of Punjab, having secured majority. With Congress putting self destruction button, there appears to be no challenge to the BJP as of now.
How the Congress destroys itself was evident how, having won Madhya Pradesh after a long time, toppled its own government led by Kamal Nath. Joytiryaditya Scindia was an important leader of Madhya Pradesh Congress and played important role in congress victory. Kamal Nath and former Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh humiliated Scindia so much that he quit the Congress, joined the BJP and now a minister at the Centre. Had Congress given him Rajya Sabha ticket, Kamal Nath would have been ruling the state.
Congress Party’s virtual route in five elections has a lesson. The grand old party has to change its style of functioning; the dynastic dominance has to be cried halt and natural leadership allowed to grow.
These elections have taken place at a time of significant economic distress. Unemployment rates, especially among the youth, continue to be high. Inflation, especially for essential commodities such as cooking gas, petrol-diesel and eatable oils, has been high and things are expected to become worse given the ongoing geopolitical disruption. The despondency because of economic situation can be clearly seen in RBI’s Consumer Confidence, which shows that consumer sentiment continues to be significantly lower than pre- pandemic levels. Given the fact that the BJP has the burden of double incumbency –it is the ruling party both in the centre and states—the biggest question in these elections is whether economic distress will hurt its political fortunes in future.
Now that the BJP has managed to retain power in the states it is ruling, especially UP, where policies such as ban on cattle slaughter have created the menace of stray cattle, it will mean voters have decided against punishing the BJP politically despite large-scale economic suffering.
This will also underline the argument that economic distress per se—the inflation scenario is expected to get worse in the coming days but it should not be a dampening factor for BJP’s political fortunes. (IPA Service)