4 simple growth models that BJP is using to paint India saffron
Whether it’s winning, stealing, manufacturing or manipulating the mandate, the biggest political party in the country has now done it all.
- Total Shares
After Nitish Kumar’s re-entry into the National Democratic Alliance and formation of government in Bihar with the support of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the number of states where the BJP is in power has gone up to 18. The Modi wave that hit India in 2014 has changed the political landscape of the country in just three years.
A colour-coded map of India hangs in the BJP national president Amit Shah’s office. With the recent change in government, Bihar went from blue to saffron. The blue on the map represents the Opposition-ruled states. The saffron in the Indian map is spreading like wildfire. In 2014, the BJP was in power in just six states.
Since then, it has spread its wings and captured 12 more. Getting an average of four states per year is a phenomenal growth by any yardstick. Consistency, momentum and the margins of victory make it even more spectacular. To come to power and to increase its geopolitical spread even farther, the BJP has been working on four models.
1) Get mandate: The very first model to get power, just like every other political party and their aspirations. The stepping-stone is to win over people’s goodwill and get their mandate. Of course, this is how political parties are supposed to form a government in a democracy anyway. It’s an ideal scenario.
Post 2014, the BJP has formed the government in the following states after getting a majority in the elections, that is, via the people’s mandate:
Uttar Pradesh 2017
Jharkhand 2014 (Emerged as a single largest party)
Morally, ethically, politically and even ideologically, there is no problem with this model. This model can be called “government after mandate”.
2) Post-poll opportunistic alliances: The second model adopted by the BJP to form the government in various states is via the post-poll alliance. In this model, after fighting bitter election battles against the rival parties, it has joined hands with them. The BJP has used this method to come to power in the following states:
Jammu & Kashmir 2014
Of course, it must be said at this point that this isn’t the BJP’s own invention; it has been followed by several parties in the past. But given the BJP calls itself a “party with difference”, it’s an unexpected move. Moreover, this model isn’t ethical as well.
Let’s look at the following examples, of Maharashtra and J&K. During the campaign in Maharashtra, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Shiv Sena a “hafta vasool” party. However, after the elections, his chief ministerial candidate from the BJP, Devendra Fadnavis, had no qualms forming the government with the “extortionist” party, such as the Shiv Sena, also the BJP’s long-time ally in the western state.
Similarly, during the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly elections, Prime Minister Modi had asked voters to stay away from the “baap-beti ki sarkaar”, that is the government of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and his daughter, Mehbooba Mufti Sayeed, who led the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Modi asked people of J&K to throw them out. However, once the elections were over, not only did the BJP form the government with the PDP, but also accepted their leadership in the state under the two father-daughter chief ministers. This particular method of the BJP can also be described as “manipulating the mandate”.
3) Poach MLAs from rival parties: In this model, despite not getting majority in the polls and despite not emerging as the single largest party, the BJP nevertheless ends up forming the government after poaching MLAs from other parties, and also through making alliances with smaller parties. This model was followed in these two states:
In Goa and Manipur, the BJP had won fewer seats than the Congress. In Goa, BJP had 13 to Congress' 17. In Manipur, Congress emerged as the single largest party with 28 MLAs, and BJP trailed with 21. Yet, the government was formed by the BJP leading it. The best way to describe this model is to call it the “manufactured mandate”.
4) Import chief minister: And if all the above mentioned models fail, in that case, a chief minister can be imported with his bag and baggage, that is with him along with his MLAs. This model was applied in these two states.
Arunachal Pradesh 2017
Bihar was the only big state where the BJP was thrashed in the Assembly elections, despite getting a majority of seats in the Lok Sabha elections just one year back. But under two years since the November 2015 Assembly elections, they have brought the Nitish Kumar-led JDU back to the BJP-led NDA, and have come to power through the back door.
In Arunachal Pradesh, too, the BJP came to power without winning an election. Chief minister Pema Khandu switched loyalties and helped the saffron party in the state. A smart analysis of current news reports suggests that this model could be soon applied even in Tamil Nadu. This method can be called “robbing or stealing the mandate”.
The Congress, too, has used almost all these models, but the BJP seems to have done it with perfection. Saam, daam, dand, bhed are the four key elements of Chanakya neeti. Roughly, saam is to advice and ask; daam is to offer and buy; dand is to punish, and bhed is exploiting the secrets.
If news reports and charges of the Opposition are to be believed, bits of all the elements of Chanakya neeti may have been used in these models. But can these models of manipulative growth be sustainable? Only time will tell.