Port Wings, 19 Dec 2018:
In a democracy, the public has the last word. And again and again, we are reminded of that when the assembly election results for the five states started trickling in last week. The vast swathe of Hindi heartland, said to be the very base for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, once again delivered their verdict reflecting the mood and a statement of intent to the ruling political party.
Decoding the result, principal opposition party Congress termed the assembly election results in five states a referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Going further, Congress president Rahul Gandhi exhorted the opposition parties to put up an united fight and defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party in next year’s elections using burning issues like unemployment, agrarian distress and corruption.
According to the media, this is a clear message to the prime minister and the BJP that the country is not happy with what they are doing.
On the statistics front, this was the first real setback for PM Modi-Amit Shah led BJP election machine. Yes, Punjab was lost and Congress retained Karnataka, but this is the biggest setback yet for the ruling coalition. It is not as if a BJP loss is a reflection of the popular mood, neither is a BJP win a suppression of popular mandate.
The people’s will, their voice, is somewhere lost in the narrative. Across Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana the voters re-established their primacy. 2014 saw the will of the people propel the BJP-led NDA to power. Since then, the ruling combine has notched up a string of electoral successes. Congress lost its primacy in Indian politics – in numbers and perception. Somewhere in the maze and glorious victories the voice of the farmers, the middle class, small businessmen, the commonest of the common men got feebler and feebler.
The focus of the politicians seemingly shifted elsewhere. It probably moved towards establishing the political primacy of the ruling combine across India. The media narrative on these losses also come in crystal clear form. Issues like agrarian distress, lack of jobs were finding voices across large areas of the country.
Besides, agitations, mobilisation of the desperate, poor and downtrodden were increasingly being witnessed. And, New Delhi witnessed series of farmer protests thus registering the strongest in-soul search for the ruling class.
For the first time in history, senior judges of the apex court met the press, unprecedented tussle in the CBI – yet there was marked reluctance to open up for debate and discussion – particularly of the critical type. In a democracy, the voice of people should be the voice of the parties in power. Their narrative is clear and the focal point of action needs to shift towards real action.
It is a clear fact that the assembly election verdict is not a premonition, it is a wakeup call for those in power. It resets the narrative just months ahead of the general elections. The voters have shown the way, now it is for the parties to follow, the ruling, the opposition, the regional parties.