From now to Lok Sabha elections 2019, the BJP will be on the wrong foot. The party has nothing to show for the 5-state elections. At fag-end 2018, the party cadre stand demoralised and the Modi-Shah election-machine is wrecked, beyond repair. What can the duo spring in the short time left to GE 2019, what can BJP offer to the distressed farmer the tribal, the Dalit; urban voter besides Jan Dhan and Ujwala; plunging rupee and rising petrol/diesel prices? The bad press demonetisation and GST got refuses to go away.
It doesn’t matter if the Congress just managed to scrape through in Rajasthan or couldn’t even do that in Madhya Pradesh. Chhattisgarh spoke volumes. The bottomline is the BJP’s election-winning days are over. The momentum is with Rahul Gandhi and the Congress. The saying ‘Winner takes all’ will apply from now on. The message has percolated down to everybody, including Mayawati. Another meeting of opposition parties called will see better attendance. The “disagreements” Mayawati speaks about look disappeared.
The results in the 5-state elections leaves the BJP hobbled with no issue to bank on, cling to. It stands defeated on the ‘Vikas-plank’. The corruption issue doesn’t hold much water because of the Rafale albatross around Modi’s neck. Michel isn’t “cooperating” to nail “AP” and “fam” for Modi. And Vijay Mallya is not leaving his London home anytime soon. There is no runaway royal daughter to trade-off with Buckingham Palace and Prime Minister Theresa May “may or may not” listen to Modi; he isn’t damsel in distress.
So, what next for Modi and Shah the Ram temple? ‘Hard Hindutva’ was already in play against ‘Soft Hindutva’ in Hindi-heartland Madhya Pradesh. And by now everybody knows which of the two Hindutva brands won! Shiv-bhakt Rahul Gandhi revealed his gotra and covered every temple worth its deity in MP, including Mahakaleswar in Ujjain subdivision. Word is out that if anybody can get the Ram Mandir built in Ayodhya, then it’s the Congress, the Congress alone, not the BJP which uses it only to win elections.
This time, in the 5-state elections, BJP couldn’t even do that despite help from Shiv Sena and VHP to drum up frenzy with rally and ultimatum, talk of ordinance and bill. On voting day, distressed farmers, troubled Dalit, fatigued tribal and cow-lynched Muslim cared two-hoots about Mandir or Masjid; whether a Ram Mandir is built or not; the wounds left by demonetization and GST, the cow-vigilante, were still raw in the mind. And, contrary to all breaking news, the Election Commission is autonomous the EVM cannot be breached.
So it is with the Supreme Court. The top court will not be ruling on the Ram Mandir issue in a hurry, but it will deliver judgments on ‘CBI’ and ‘Rafale’ shortly and if the rulings go against the Modi government that shouldn’t surprise anybody. Prime Minister Narendra Modi got his chance, the 60 months he asked for against the 60 years the Congress-ruled, but Modi got his priorities wrong, forgetting that the 60 months were to set things right for the majority of Indians, not for the minority of the uber-rich the Ambani and Adani.
The ultra-rich never vote. They don’t stand in queue. Considering that these were the lot who held most of the demonetized high-value currency notes, how many of them did the Aam Aadmi see lined up outside SBI and other bank branches? Not one, not a single Tata, Birla, Ambani or Adani. Yet, they went from uber-rich to stinking uber-rich in the two years since demonetization. For, if anybody Modi is ‘mitron’ to, it is with these floating rich.
So, let nobody mourn the BJP’s defeats. Take it as what was coming to Modi and Shah, a fait accompli after all that they did and did not do. Who knows Rahul Gandhi must be the saviour Indians have been waiting for? The ‘family Gandhi’ owes a debt to India; maybe paid in part. It is time they paid back in full. Sure, it’s a tall order but then what’s the alternative Modi and Shah? Forfeit 60 months out of every Indian’s lives and that will be 60 multiplied by 1.35 billion! Don’t even start to count. The calculator will go bust in protest. Nobody owes Modi a second term, least of all aam aadmi.
(The author is a political commentator)