Bharatiya Janata Party’s electoral debacle in the recent by-elections in Karnataka has once again made leaders of non-BJP parties strengthen the Maghatbhandan. Karnataka election results have once again proved that a united opposition can take on the Bharatiya Janata Party, now in rather dire straits. Earlier too in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and other states, it was proved that a united opposition can defeat the saffron party whose record at the Centre has been disappointing.
Once again leaders like Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu, Bengal chief minister Mamta Bannerjee, former UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, DMK supremo Stalin and senior leader and NCP chief Sharad Pawar have to make moves to unite the opposition. All of them have accepted the fact that without the Indian National Congress playing a leading role in the Mahaghatbhandan, the prime objective of dislodging the BJP at the centre is not possible. Though Mayawati is still defiant and prefers to go alone with regional alliances, her influence and limitations are known to all. Her forte is UP and she has influence in some pockets in the neighbouring states. In UP, the two main players who can deliver the task of defeating the Parivar, have not fallen party. If Mayawati has not signed a secret deal with Amit Shah, the expectation is that at the last minute the BSP supremo can be brought around by allocating some seats to her in the Hindi belt states.
Janeudhari Rahul Gandhi, is a practical politician now realizing that in each state the party has to adjust to the ground realities. In Rajasthan, he has already abandoned no truck with any party and has signed a deal with Ajit Singh of Rashtriya Lok Dal, known for his influence among the Jats. Son of veteran Jat leader and former prime minister, Charan Singh, Ajit Singh can be helpful in western Uttar Pradesh and its adjoining districts in Rajasthan. The idea is to have complete dominance in Rajasthan and a foothold in Uttar Pradesh. In Madhya Pradesh too, the Congress is doing well in spite of differences and clashing ambitions of party leaders, the credit for which should go to Rahul.
To the surprise of many, Rahul is no more a “Pappu”, but well versed in the political game ready to follow a give and take policy which has succeeded in Karnataka, where he went against the wishes of state leaders to keep the BJP out with admirable determination. In Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan the party is giving sleepless nights to the chief ministers of the two states and the BJP duo – Narendra Modi and Amit Shah at the Centre. After Karnataka, the Congress is working with added vigour in Chhatisgarh, where continuing Maoist violence is putting the BJP government in the state in a spot. After all many Congress veterans have lost their lives in Maoist violence which fact is recalled after every violent incident and killing of innocents.
Though the state government has done good work in areas under Maoist influence by opening up schools, hospitals, building houses and building roads the Maoists continue to rule roost and make their presence felt through periodic violent attacks putting life and property at stake to the common people. That the state government has not succeeded in containing Maoists is a fact.
The main problem of the BJP these days is its steady erosion of credibility and trust deficit. Narendra Modi is losing his mass appeal as even a consummate politician and orator like him is unable to explain the failed policies. Above all, people are fed up with the continuing narration of failures of the Congress led governments of the last six decades. The positive crowd response to Modi’s criticisms, similies and failures of the Congress governments is almost missing compared to his speeches four years ago. What Modi government has done to help the aam aadmi is what everyone wants to know, faced with tough realities. His total silence on controversial issues is adversely affecting the image of the NDA government at the Centre.
Whether the BJP leadership agrees or not the clean image of Modi government is losing its sheen these days. The Rafale deal, escape of fraudulent business men from India, high petroleum prices and increase in the cost of essential commodities too are having a negative impact. No more do people believe that demonetization and GST are doing a lot of good as the life of aam aadmi is a worsening struggle. The claimed benefits have not taken place. Worse is the case of GST which has created untold miseries to shop keepers and small traders, who are the backbone of BJP. These segments are also worried about the permission of entry to multi nationals in the retail sector. It is still fresh in the memory of all how Narendra Modi opposed this move when he was chief minister Gujarat. The unorganized sector did suffer badly due to demonetization, so did every household for many months. The terrible failure in job creation and the fact of jobless growth is there for everyone to see. To them the claims of the success of the Modi government is hardly convincing. The success stories of the government are these days taken with not just pinch of salt, but with a bagful.
The terrible fall of Indian rupee makes the growth stories laughable. Interference with autonomous institutions makes many worry that democratic institutions and constitutional offices are getting weakened. Even media organizations who used to sell these success stories are now slowly trying to shift positions. The Parivar strategy of reviving the topic of building the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, changing the names of cities, towns and roads with a communal agenda are all being tried out these days. One is not sure whether this hard Hindutva agenda can deliver in the parliamentary polls.
The revival of Mahaghatbhandan is also due to the growing disenchantment with the policies of the Modi government of the public. The promised deposit of Rs.15 lakhs into the account of every Indian has become a big joke embarrassing to BJP members. The recent electoral successes of the opposition parties in the Hindi belt and Karnataka is due to this erosion of credibility and trust deficit of the government of the Centre.
One is not sure of the shape of the Mahaghatbhandan and who all will come together. But with the ground level discontentment, it is unlikely these hard boiled politicians will ignore or fail to take advantage of the situation. Once again the vote may not be for Mahaghtbhandan but disapproval of the anti people policies, which pollsters prefer to call anti-incumbency factor.
Being clever and consummate politicians, the Modi-Shah duo would definitely look for new tactics for the parliamentary polls. Since everything is fair in elections these days, what Parivar strategists would come out with to win elections, the citizens will keenly watch. One only hopes and prays that it will not take hatred and communal appeals to new dizzying levels.