Can't blame EVMs - why Opposition will lose 2019 elections to Modi

The Congress, BSP and BSP face an existential threat, and the problem cannot be wished away.

 |  3-minute read |   14-03-2017
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The Bharatiya Janata Party's resounding victory in Uttar Pradesh has critics running for cover. The sheer magnitude of the sweep not only caught most analysts and almost the entire media unaware, it also appears to have knocked the life out of opposition parties, certainly for now.

Blaming the EVMs is not just a lame excuse but also an exercise in self-delusion. Mercifully other political parties have resisted the temptation to fall for this mother of all excuses. The plain truth is that the Opposition had no answer to Narendra Modi's charisma, or the BJP's social engineering, its planning and the execution of its electoral strategy.

The Opposition is also deluding itself if it credits the BJP sweep to mere polarisation of votes. True there was a conscious attempt to polarise voters after the third phase of elections. But to single that out as the sole reason for their comprehensive rout will be nothing short of turning its face from the truth.

The fact is in Modi the BJP has a leader whose credibility and hold over the electorate remains unmatched at this moment in time. So much so that people bought his demonetisation and viewed him as a Robin Hood out to benefit the poor at the cost of the rich.

Coupled with that was vast social arithmetic that Amit Shah had assiduously put in place months ahead of the polls.

modibd2_031417033806.jpg In Modi, the BJP has a leader whose credibility and hold over the electorate remains unmatched at the moment.

Having learnt their lessons from the defeat in Bihar, the BJP decided to expand its social base and set about winning over the non-Yadav OBCs. It also brought into its fold leaders with clout amongst the EBCs like the Kushwahas Patels, Baghels, Sainis to add to their support base among the Brahmins, Thakurs and Banias. In doing so it had in place a much larger social base than the SP and the BSP.

The BJP's strategy paid off rich dividends enabling it to romp home in areas and on seats that had a large Yadav, Muslim and Dalit population.

Of the 89 Assembly seats where the Muslim population is 25 per cent or more the BJP won 64 seats, the SP 18, the BSP 4 and the Congress 3. Of the 90 Dalit seats where Dalit population is more than 25 per cent, the BJP won 75 seats, the BSP 6 and the SP 9.

If it undercut the SP by wooing away the non-Yadav OBCs, it outflanked Mayawati by winning over some of her rebels like influential Kushwaha leader SP Maurya.

Amit Shah also successfully targeted the non-Jatav vote thereby undercutting her support base. The BJP succeeded in painting the SP as a party of the Yadavs and Muslims, and the BSP as the Jatav-dominated Dalit party. The BJP in the OBCs got 57 per cent of the Kurmi votes and 67 per cent of the Lodhi votes. The BJP won 32 per cent Jatav votes and 34 per cent ST votes .

The message is loud and clear for the opposition parties: they need to wake up to new ground realities. The ground has shifted from under their feet. They must either wake up and smell the coffee or they can forget about challenging the BJP, leave alone wresting power away from it.

The Congress, BSP and the BSP face an existential threat, and the problem cannot be wished away. The Congress party needs to undertake some drastic restructuring, it has to come back to its centrist moorings. Additionally, it cannot cede the nationalist plank to the BJP, or being seen as party whose whole existence revolves around opposing the BJP. It must be able to come up with a counter-narrative.

If the Opposition hopes to make a fight of it in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls it needs to put together coalition of as many non-BJP parties as possible and find a leader with the requisite credibility and track record whom it can project.

Also read: BJP rushing to form government in Goa, Manipur exposes Modi politics

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Writer

Javed M Ansari Javed M Ansari @javedmansari

The writer is a senior journalist and political analyst.

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