Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Poll Results in Maharashtra and Haryana: Implications for the Future

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

It appears that the combination of Narendar Modi and Amit Shah will indeed succeed in making India, a Congress Mukth Bharath--India free of the Congress. In Maharashtra the BJP won 123 seats on its own and in Haryana it won 47. In both these states the BJP has been able to humble the dominant regional political party which played the identity card--Siva Sena in Maharashtra and the Indian National Lok Dal in Haryana. The support garnered by the BJP cut across the traditional fault lines of Indian polity--backward castes, tribal communities and Scheduled Castes have all voted for the BJP making it the most inclusive political force in the country. Further, the dynastic components of the polity like the Thackeray family in Maharashtra and the Cahutalas in Haryana stand humbled if not eliminated and this is a trend that began in the 2014 May Parliamentary Elections which saw the emergence of the BJP as a truly National force. Identity politics has resulted in the fragmentation of the political space and the resultant Governments were plagued with corruption and crime as what India witnessed during the 10 years of Congress led UPA rule.

In Maharashtra the BJP reluctantly broke itt alliance with the regional party, Siva Sena, over the issue of seat sharing. Surprisingly the Shiv Sena was unwilling  to concede just 3 extra seats over which the two parties parted company. Even though the Siva Sena put put candidates against the BJP in all the traditional regions of Maharashtra, Vidhraba, Mahratwada, and Konkan, the bJP was able to make dramatic inroads. The separation of Vidhraba from Maharrashtra is unlikely to be taken up in the near future as the Siva Sena will oppose any division of the state. The recent confusion over Telengana may lead to a rethink on the whole issue. Even though the Siva Sena used, as it is wont, extremely fiery and some would even say "gutter" language, a patch up is on the cards.

The Congress and its ally Nationalist Congress Party led by Sharad Pawar was defeated because of the rampant corruption it indulged in. The Irrigation scandal in which the prime accused is Ajit Pawar, the nephew of the Maharatha strongman resulted in the defeat of the NCP though it has held on to its traditional strongholds of Baramati.

In Haryana, the INLD leader Om Prakash Chautala who is lodged in jail due to his involvement in the Teacher Recruitment  Scam won 20 seats. All the important leaders of the Party were defeated. Om Prakash Chautala himself came out of jail on bail to campaign, feigning medical grounds but the results showed that the people have no sympathy for corrupt politicians and this shows clearly that the Indian Electorate is changing. Jat identity politics made the BJP stitch a coalition of other backward castes including the dalits and has swept to power.

In Maharashtra the BJP faces a rather grim choice: it has to seek the support of the Siva Sena to form the Government and given the acrimony of the recent campaign it would be quite a task to repair the damage to the 25 year relationship. In a way the passing away of Gopinath Munde who would have been content to let the Siva Sena play the dominant partner inMaharashtra opened the door for the BJP's emergence as an important force.

The two are well and truly set to making India, Congress Mukth Bhrath.

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