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Elections 2009

Understanding and looking beyond the 5 - 0 Rout

Dr Nitin Pandey


As the dust and din of elections settles down, political parties in Uttarakhand are behaving like the six blind men, trying to figure out the reasons of the mandate, missing out, entirely, the big picture in the process. No one could have predicted the 5 - 0 rout of BJP in our State but the signs of things going wrong for the BJP were there for a long time for all to see. How much credit can the State Congress take for the win, is also worth wondering about because of its implications in the next State Elections.

To be fair to the State BJP leadership, the Pan India image of BJP has taken a beating in recent times. In contrast to the Shining India tag it had acquired in the 2004 elections, the image of BJP had been tarred over quite some time by actions of groups like the Bajrang Dal & Ram Sena. The manhandling of women in Bangalore, Anti Valentine’s Day hooliganism, communal riots in Orissa and South painted BJP with the same brush as the other Sena’s because of failure of BJP to come out strongly against such misdeeds. In the mind of the young aware voter, voting for BJP became synonymous for voting for Ram Sena. While the BJP stood clung to age old irrelevant issues like Ram Mandir & Ram Setu, the Congress under Man Mohan Singh came to be identified with development, reforms and moderation.

Voters in India do not wait for the election campaign to begin before deciding who to vote for; majority Indians are politically alert and form their preferences by observing the day to day deeds and misdeeds of parties. Blaming the popping up of Modi’s name in the middle of election campaign, as a reason for defeat, seems devoid of merit for this reason. The hate speeches of Varun Gandhi may have won him his seat, but cost BJP dear by reinforcing the Vote-for-BJP-Vote-for-Ram-Sena image in the mind of an average voter. It is surprising the BJP could not gauge the wide spread revulsion such speeches generated.

In spite of these obvious handicaps well ruled BJP States, like Gujarat and Chattisgarh, delivered seats to the party. Clearly, performing State Governments are rewarded by voters while others are shown the door. That is the story of Uttarakhand BJP. The 5-0 rout is the reflection of two years of absolute lacklustre and uninspiring performance by the State Government. Trying to blame this debacle on caste / creed voting and factionalism is missing the big picture. The State Congress was no better on these accounts, yet it won. Clearly, the whole picture should not be missed.

The present day voters are very demanding. They demand honest, positive and inspiring leadership, creative out of the box thinking and action on the ground. Clearly the State BJP has failed on all these accounts. Leadership is anything but inspiring. Routine work is all that seems to have been done over the last two years. “If Congress built 100 kms of road, we have built 110kms” seems to be the only mantra of this Government. Reforming the State seems to be low on priority. Over the last two years, it is very difficult to pin point even one action of the government which has made a difference in the daily lives of ordinary residents of this State. Winning the Kapkote Bye election with just over 2000 votes can hardly be seen as a “resounding reaffirmation of support” of the State Government by voters.

On the other hand, the State Congress can hardly afford to take credit over its 5-0 sweep, which has more to do with the All India pro-Congress wave rather than any reposition of faith in the State Congress by the State electorate. Looking back at the last two years, it is very difficult to pin point even one specific positive action by the Uttarakhand Congress. Their public image is associated more with rowdy disruptions in the State Assembly, Dharnas and agitations. This winning streak may, therefore, not carry on to the next State elections. One hopes that after focusing on UP, Rahul Gandhi sets his sights on Uttarakhand.

Now that the elections are over, both the major political parties could now focus on improving the welfare of our State. A BJP ruled state should not be at a disadvantage in a Congress ruled center. This can only be possible if both the State parties rise above their narrow political interests. Harish Rawat as a Minister of State in the Center represents the entire Uttarakhand State and not just the State Congress. Previous political fights within the State should now be replaced by good camaraderie between the State Government and our representative in the Center. Only then will our State progress. As a minister, Harish Rawat must go all out in protecting and advancing the interests of Uttarakhand and the State Government must give him due respect and credit. Playing petty politics instead would be the greatest disservice to Uttarakhand.

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From: Hi Sajish,The print fortnightly has caerird a part on 1 november issue, and the rest will be on 16th novemebr issue. Will e-mail you scanned copies. Regards.Shamik
Hi Sajish,The print fortnightly has caerird a part on 1 november issue, and the rest will be on 16th novemebr issue. Will e-mail you scanned copies. Regards.Shamik