Monday, December 09, 2013
Anti-Congress and Anti-corruption is the theme for 2014 elections
No doubt the 4 state elections is a game changer specially Delhi with Aam Adami Party (AAP) super debut. AAP is claiming it is wave against the established parties. BJP is claiming it as Modi wave. Everybody is laughing when Congress claims that this is not Modi wave. I believe it’s more of ANTI-CONGRESS and ANTI-CORRUPTION wave. People have given a decisive vote against corruption and congress. People are looking for change at centre.
In all the four states the anti-congress wave was very clear. Although Chhattisgarh tally of Congress was not very bad, results in Rajasthan, Delhi and Madhya Pradesh is nothing short of disaster. Looking at these numbers one can be forgiven to believe Modi’s jingoism that the oldest political party of the country will be wiped out (Modi would not like the term swept away now after AAP success) after the national elections in 2014. 21 seats in Rajasthan out of 199 and 8 seats in Delhi out of 70 shows how big is this Anti-congress wave that is sweeping the nation. Privately even the congress party is agreeing to it ask Sheila Dixit and Ashok Gehlot. Even before the elections they were aware that Congress performance at Centre can cost them dearly in state elections. However, their party’s Gandhi worshipping culture does not allow them to do openly communicate that.
Many people do not realize that success is generally stepping stone to defeat and Congress is doing the same mistake. Congress managed to unexpectedly win 2009 Lok Sabha elections due to last moment populist measures like farm loan waiver, National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, sixth pay commission etc. They have been under the impression for the last 5 years that they can get away with any crime by doling out similar populist measures before the elections. Ashok Gehlot has realized the hard way that you cannot fool people with the same trick every time. Sonia Gandhi got the full credit for Congress party’s success during last Lok Sabha elections and hence she is looking to blindly repeat the old tricks. This time they have added National Food Security Bill, Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, early announcement of seventh Pay commission and many others. In her speech yesterday she mentioned price rise as one of the reason for Congress party’s bad performance in the state elections. This shows that she has not taken off her populist goggles and is not willing to wake up and smell the coffee. Rahul Gandhi as usual was on a different plane. Although some bright mind in his team has managed to educate him that Congress party needs a transformation, the word he was able to catch on to. I really doubt that he understands the meaning of transformation or has given a thought on ‘what transformation’. However, he sounded very confident of being able transform congress in next 6 month!!
The problem is that the Congress is structured in such a fashion around Gandhi Family, that the think tank can’t give a true and fair advice. I don’t see Sonia giving up on her populist goggles or Rahul Gandhi being able to decide on direction for transformation. Even between mother and son there is no agreement on which direction they want to take the party and I doubt they are even discussion that. Congress would fight the 2014 Lok Sabha elections with only ‘non-communal’ and ‘subsidy’ card and hope against hope that it gives Congress the same result like the last time.
One big difference these State elections would make it that Congress would become untouchable. Unlike Congress think tank, rest of the parties’ think tank must have realized by now that there is a massive wave against Congress and corruption and nobody would like to be seen with Congress. Nitish Kumar must be regretting his decision to break away from BJP. There would be considerable pressure on him from his own party to realign with BJP and that would be a good development to watch. Unlike in past when BJP was made untouchable by these parties based on communal plank this time they would not succeed. Congress has been trying to use the communal card specifically against Modi but voters still want to give him a chance. The new generation of voters who are coming out in big numbers do not care about Mandir or Masjid. They care about toilets, schools, hospitals and jobs. Modi understands this very well. After these state election results BJP would be able to get many more allies.
BJP needs to go all out and form alliances especially in states where they have negligible presence like North east and Southern India. BJP ends up fielding less than 400 candidates in a Lok Sabha where 572 seats are there to contest. The Hindi heartland he can more or less conquer on his own but in south and north east he needs good partners. Partners would also gain as they would be able to ride on the anti-Congress, anti-corruption and pro-Modi wave. BJP just need to be sure that they have clean partners and should avoid likes of Mayawati, Mulayam, Laloo etc. In Hindi heartland partners need Modi more than Modi needs partners and BJP should not worry going into elections without partners in UP and Bihar. In south and north east it would pay to have alliances upfront. They have to ensure that anti-Congress and anti-corruption votes are not divided like it happened in Delhi. In Hindi heartland it is less likely as parties of Mayawati, Mulayam, Laloo etc are all seen as almost as corrupt as Congress if not more. If BJP top team went about making right alliances, I believe before the Lok Sabha voting day itself it would be clear that BJP is forming the government at Centre.
One thing BJP needs to guard against is diluting its image when it comes to corruption. They would be temptation to do ‘horse trading’ to form government at Delhi but they should resist it. Anti-congress vote in Delhi got divided just because AAP was seen as a much cleaner party then BJP (and rightly so). If BJP manages to break AAP or Congress candidates they might be able to form government in Delhi State but lose out on making government in the Centre. If they do that they would be seen as a party very similar to Congress which AAP is all the while trying to project with the objective to monopolize on ‘anti-corruption’ & ‘anti-congress’ wave.
AAP had a dream debut but it is just the beginning. People have given them a chance to prove what they are claiming – the new generation of clean & transparent politicians. Right now there is anger against corruption which they have encased, but at the same time people want to see results. Anybody can stand outside and say “cholbena cholbena” like Mamta Banerjee, the challenge it to produce results without getting involved in corruption. People do not want politicians who are so scared of doing the wrong things that they do not do anything. People are equally fed up with ‘policy paralysis’ and everybody is looking forward to the next elections hoping that government will start taking actions then. People are rooting for Modi because he is seen as result oriented person.
AAP might choose to take a high moral stand that they would not get involved in forming government in Delhi because they have not received majority. I feel it would only disillusion their voters. People have not only supported them with votes but also with effort, time and hard earned money. Nobody would like to see that going down the drain and state forced into another election. That’s why developments in Delhi would be interesting and can have a big impact on national elections. If BJP tries to make government using all good and bad tricks they would be seen as a party similar to Congress which they cannot afford to. On the other hand if BJP offers to support AAP and Lokayukta Bill in Delhi and implement the same in other BJP states, BJP can score points with voters. AAP would not like to take BJP’s support as they would not like to share the ‘anti-corruption’ plank with BJP. The challenge in front of AAP is that they might lose their differentiating factor if they allied with BJP. On the other hand if they force the state into re-election then also people might see them as waste of votes, time and money. People will believe that their experiment with AAP has failed and will vote for stability next time. People would be very vary of voting for them in Lok Sabha elections as there they do not have any chances of getting a majority and they do not believe in issue based alignment. The best route for AAP is to form an issue based government at Delhi with BJP, make sure that all major promises like Lokayukta is implemented in first three months itself so that when they stand for Lok Sabha election they are not only seen as an idealistic party but also a result oriented party. This would also give them much needed experience of governance.
One of the politicians made a very good remark: in couple of months, school admissions would start in Delhi and voters of AAP would be approaching AAP candidates for school admissions and reference. All votes believe what happened in 2G, coal scam, CWG etc. was corruption, but how many of these voters consider taking help of politicians for school admission, gas connection etc. as corruption is for AAP to find out.
One more evident fact is that people want to know whom they are voting for. In fact it is in Indian DNA that we worship Sachin Tendulkar and his centuries more than India team and its performance. We worship Rajnikanth and his antics more than the quality of the overall movie. All these years India has been voting for ‘Gandhi’ more than the congress party. We like hero worshipping. BJP’s appointment of Modi as Prime Ministerial candidate has helped BJP. It helped BJP in all state where they had clear leader. In Delhi they lost votes to AAP because they took too much time to come up with the Chief Ministerial candidate and there also they had a light weight candidate. On the other hand AAP also had a clear candidate from day 1. Even Sonia Gandhi has realized that and she mentioned that they would announce their Prime Ministerial candidate at ‘appropriate’ time. The problem with congress is that they have nobody who can fill those shoes. Two candidates have ‘Gandhi’ surname but more and more people are not able to see then in the same light as earlier ‘Gandhis’ at the same time they themselves are not willing to commit to a full time job of a PM candidate. Others like Digvijay Singh, Sibal etc do not have any self-respect, which is evident from the senseless comments they make and hence expecting public to respect them is a tall ask. Everybody in Congress is seen as sycophant without their own identity including our PM. Until unless somebody has a spine to stand up and make Gandhi family to smell the coffee it is very difficult for them to come up with a candidate whom they can project as PM candidate for 2014 elections. Rahul Gandhi is the other option after Manmohan Singh but he does not even have spine to take responsibility of failure leave away the leadership responsibility of a party that is facing a big anti-incumbency wave. I am just not able to think whom Sonia Gandhi would select at the ‘appropriate’ time.