Modi 3, compulsion of coalition no one man show

By C K Nayak

Modi 3, compulsion of coalition no one man show

Throughout the world elections for a new Government in a country take place almost every month. But in June it was election results of India, the largest democracy in the world and in the race was Mr Narendra Modi, by now a world leader and vying for a hattrick with absolute majority.

When the results were declared on June 4, Modi managed a hattrick but only with his alliance partner, not on own party as he was confident. The numbers were also much reduced specially in Uttar Pradesh neighbouring Napal where his party is in   ruling for a second term. Modi left no stone unturned to revive the famous Ram Janmabhoomi issue on which the first BJP Government came to power led by Vajpayee-Advani duo. Not only Modi’s party failed to get majority seats in UP, but also was defeated in twin cities of Ayodhya and Faizabad where the world-famous temple built in Ram’s birth place.

Not getting a majority on its own was a surprise since the Bharatiya Janata Party unlike other right wing or centrist ones are cadre based and well organised.  Prime Minister Modi and the Home Minister Saha are very meticulous. They have huge resources on all accounts be it funds or manpower.  On the other hand, the main opposition party Congress, though more than hundred-year-old, are just the opposite. The ruling duo started election preparations and unofficial campaigning much ahead of the declaration of Lok Sabha polls in March that ended this month only.

What could be the reason for the debacle despite stitching the Government. Though the BJP remains the dominant party in the 18th Lok Sabha, it failed to touch the 272 seats required for a simple majority. With just 240 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha, the BJP found a lifeline with its biggest two pre-poll allies, the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) led by Chandrababu Naidu and the Janata Dal (United) led by Nitish Kumar, to form a government. a third term. The root cause of the substantial reduction in the number of seats of BJP was Roti, Kapda aur Makan. Though overall inflation was officially in a single digit, food prices were quite high starting from cereals to pulses to oils to vegetables. Employment at ground level is very high with increasing job seekers but shrinking avenues. This is despite the fact India; a fast-growing economy has one of the largest stocks of food grains and biggest distributor of free or subsidised ration. But here it is available to a limited number who had the official ration card much earlier. Its addition is few and many of the card holders have moved to urban centres for jobs rendering the whole system useless. There are many new pucca houses built under Government schemes in villages. But many ancestral village homes are locked for years since the family have moved to towns for job, education and health facilities. A vast majority of these people voted with a vengeance even without bothering if the other candidates are worse or better. Being a seasoned politician and administrator, Modi got the message and announced massive housing schemes for the poor farmers (read villagers) in his first cabinet meeting on Monday after the polls results. 

Now coming to electoral arithmetic, five big states, two of them Uttar Pradesh, Bihar (bordering Nepal), Maharashtra, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu together have 249 seats which is about half of the total Lok Seats. In all these five big ticket states, the opposition INDIA block could stitch formal or informal alliances and there was virtual one to one contest. BJP could benefit when there is a multi cornered contest with division of votes, not direct ones. All these states including dominant UP, BJP strength was reduced about half which was a big blow.

A region wise analysis showed that barring the exception of Karnataka, BJP was never a force in other remaining southern states- Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. But this time the party had already lost the assembly in Karnataka earlier and could not get many seats on its own. In the North BJP lost in Uttar Pradesh which lost 80 seats. It won all seats in neighbouring Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh in North but their total number was just 11. Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir results were mixed and were not of much help. The other big state Bihar could come out with help of new found but often vacillating ally Nitish Kumar. In east West Bengal the flag was held high by Mamta Banerjee of TMC despite serious challenges from BJP. But BJP was a surprise winner in an unlikely state Odisha garnering all but 21 seats, a record.  But it was a fluke.

On religious lines extreme forms of Hindutva also alienated moderate Hindus who are vast in number. So much so in Ajodhya where the Ram temple was built amid much fanfare and its periphery constituencies BJP lost! Earlier, Muslim women used to vote for Modi en bloc but silently since he took progressive steps like ban on Triple Talak. Earlier, despite the pro-Hindu image. For this the BJP used to garner more seats even in minority dominated districts. But this time the campaign on extreme communal lines alienated all the minority voters mainly Muslims and Christians. Because of anti-Chrisian stand by Assam Chief Minister, Mr Himanta Biswa Sharma now a top BJP leader, BJP and its allies were wiped out in five of the eight Northeast states- Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Manipur. On age and gender lines too the BJP did not found its earlier charm with women due to price rise and youths because of unemployment.

But besides all these factors the dictatorial attitude of Modi-Saha duo also harmed the party. There are many stalwarts in the party like it's defence minister and former CM of Uttar Pradesh Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari former BJP President. It also has many strong regional satraps like Maharani Vijaya Raje Sindhia, related to Nepal Royalty but they did not come forward due to the dominance of the duo. 

The intellectual voters were also not happy with Modi’s foreign policy though the Prime Minister is very popular abroad. His once best neighbourhood policy did not make much progress with no improvement in relationship with Pakistan despite the return of the Shariff clan. Relationships with Maldives seem to be at the lowest ebb. Despite reaching out to Sri Lanka during its worst ever crisis, bilateral relations have not returned to the once best level. Same with Nepal   and Bhutan. Most expected due to personal rapport between Xi and Modi the impasses over China will end but in vain. The only country with India that has best of relations now is Bangladesh, but that itself was an issue during its   recently concluded controversial polls.

It is an irony that two major pre poll alliance partners of BJP- Janata Dal (United) led by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Telugu Desam party leader Chandrabhanu Naidu were once architect of coalition Governments known as Untied Front and formed Governments with the support of Congress or BJP to keep either of them out of Government in the past. If this time they decided to go to Congress led INDIA block where they were parties earlier Modi would not have been able to form the third Government by any means.