By Aishwarya Puri
Edited by Nandita Singh, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist
With State Assembly Polls drawing near for Haryana and Maharashtra, it is a time of complete upheaval and furor for both the states. In this very crucial and sensitive period, what surprisingly binds these distant states, distant both physically and culturally, with a common thread is worth addressing. Bhartiya Janta Party’s tremendous success in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections has given the wing an edge in Maharashtra and Haryana politics. With polling scheduled for 15 October and counting for the 19th, BJP’s binges are yet to create more of spectacular political panoramas in the states.
Talking about Haryana first, given that BJP has already exposed its cards here, Kuldeep Bishnoi led Haryana Janhit Congress(HJC) suffered a big blow when it lost the constituencies of Sirsa and Hisar to Indian National Lokdal(INLD) in the LS elections. BJP was in a tie-up with the same at that time. Following this deep dud, media speculated that BJP was not happy with HJC’s performance and that the coalition had developed friction. Putting an end to a long wave of comments and allegations that were brick-batted at each other between both the parties, the coalition broke-off on 28 August. A major issue that leveraged this break-up was the persistent disagreement on the division of seats. With a total of 90 seats in Haryana, Kuldeep Bishnoi wished to have a greater share in the division arrangement and also asserted to produce the Chief Ministerial candidate out of HJC itself. On the other hand, BJP was convinced that it ought to get the candidate’s face from its pool considering its phenomenal victory in the LS elections; it won 7 out of the 10 seats. As the scuffle went on, BJP showed concrete confidence in its political strategies and asserted that it can fight the elections on all the 90 seats itself. Now that the tie-up is called off, BJP and HJC are fighting individually on all the 90 seats in full vigor and boost.
BJP’s tale of confidence, or maybe overconfidence, is also evident in Maharashtra. Where BJP general secretary in Maharashtra, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, urges that both the parties should contest on an equal share, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray clearly dismisses any such arrangement. The ethical facet of ‘a 25 year long association’ between the two parties is often pulled into the battle, but it is nothing more than sugar-coated politics considering that no side seems to be taking the compromising bow. BJP, here too, is more than convinced that it is capable of making an exclusive success-story all on its own, but paying due respect to the 25 year old coalition, it does not wish to take drastic steps relating to the Shiv Sena. In the 2009 elections, Shiv Sena contested on 169 seats and BJP on 119.
Coming back to the joint scenario, BJP has planned to launch a major ‘Modi’ campaign streak in both the states. Rallies and mass manifestation of power(Shakti pradarshan) would focus on delivering BJP’s idea of good governance and proposing a “Congress-mukt rajya.” What is interesting to note here is that BJP is still not over its obsession with the Modi-wave, which, no doubt, worked wonderfully in the LS elections. However, political pundits would agree that LS and State polls are two different kinds of election arenas and different approaches should be adopted to deal with them. While LS elections saw the‘Modi-effect’ at whole, states can follow their traditional trends as far as voting patterns are concerned. LS polls view a whole constituency while counting its vote share, while the State Assembly polls extract a representative from the little fragments of district. This implies that a traditional voter, especially in the rural setup, would be more inclined towards an acquainted face than a national figure like Mr. Modi. Also,given that Modi government’s great action in its 100 days of power could not bring about a drastic change in anything that would benefit a rural man as such, the Modi craze might just not be as powerful as BJP is assuming it to be. Furthermore, talking exclusively of Haryana, BJP has had a long period of dormancy in the state politics. With the success of LS elections coming almost as an unforeseen event, BJP has still not managed to put forward a powerful face of vision and governance from the ground of Haryana. Some very unpopular BJP leaders, or the leaders who left the Congress to join the former, are driving its entire agenda. Hence, parties like INLD or Congress have an upper hand here, as they have been able to fall back on some very faithful leader’s names and personas for a long time. Therefore, it will not be wrong to say that BJP is overlooking some really significant political trends, and of course, this is coming out of its long celebrated “Modi leher.”
It will be most interesting to see how the BJP will come up with a negotiable arrangement with Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, and whether the BJP or another political party in Haryana benefits from the broken ties between BJP and HJC. One also wonders whether the BJP will be able to get over its obsession with the Modi-phenomenon, and rise on the merit of their party as a whole, rather than the charisma of one man. With October 15 very near, maybe it’s high time for BJP to swallow the truth that LS and State Assembly polls show different trends, or perhaps, the Modi frenzy will work for them one last time, we can only wait and watch.Aishwarya is a student of English Literature at Hindu College, Delhi University. An aggressive enthusiast of Politics and an avid reader of articles on public policy and national politics. A leader, orator, anti patriarchal and loud on expression of words and public speaking. She believes in her dynamic administrative qualities and swears by candid human resource management. Her analysis of any life experience is majorly scientific and pragmatic, yet never misses a touch of spiritualism and philosophy.