Saturday, April 17, 2021

Jharkhand results

The Jharkhand Assembly elections results have sent a clear message to the BJP, which should worry the party not only for the reason that it is losing elections but also for that it is losing allies too since 2017-18. Another important message from Ranchi is that the usefulness of coalition politics and staying close to the allies once chosen before the polls in any state across the country besides the Lok Sabha elections. The BJP has done badly in most of the elections after the General Elections in May 2019. It has lost the allies due to its alleged arrogance of power particularly in Maharashtra where its ally Shiv Sena broke away to form a government with Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) against whom it contested the polls in pre-poll alliance. The BJP lost Shiv Sena because it did not stick reportedly to the coalition dharma of power sharing agreements only last month. The loss in Jharkhand should send shock waves in view of the fact that BJP registered victory in 11 out of total of 14 Lok Sabha constituencies in May and provided a stable government for a full term of five years since the formation of the state in 2000. The loss in Jharkhand may also have come at an inopportune time for the party – neighbouring Bihar, where the BJP is in office in alliance with the JD-U, is headed to polls next year. Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has already started giving signals and differed from the central government on the implementation of National Register for Citizens (NRC) and Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in the state. The gains in Ranchi will be a boost for the opposition, which, since the drubbing in the General Elections, has been lying low. The boost is an added feather in the opposition camp after government formation in Maharashtra, where Congress and NCP did not look forward to once again take over the reins. The challenge there would be to carry on and fulfil the promises made to the electorate before the elections particularly on the issue of farm loans and reframing of development projects, which were not suited to the people of Maharashtra. Indeed the BJP needs to learn lessons from the loss in Jharkhand. The party has unfortunately been reduced to 31 percent area in 2019 against 71 percent earlier across the country, where it went ahead with a slogan of ‘Congress-Mukt Bharat’. Firstly, BJP’s over-reliance on a single leader, Narendra Modi for mobilizing votes and forming governments is problematic in the states. The electorate makes a clear distinction between the national and state elections and national trends are not necessarily replicated in the states. The local issues and problems can carry greater relevance in the assembly elections than the much-hyped national issues. Modi and Amit Shah campaigned primarily on national security, including the CAA and NRC, whereas the JMM, Congress and RJD grand alliance focussed on local concerns, particularly unemployment, land alienation rights of tribals, failures in the delivery of public goods. The BJP projected Raghubar Das as its sole face in the state, but the move triggered dissent within the party ranks. Secondly, the elections may also be read as a reminder of the usefulness of alliances in a fragmented polity. The grand alliance’s success is largely the result of a well-crafted coalition whereas the BJP, once famed for its skill in building alliances, was handicapped by the absence and loss of allies. It failed to reach a seat-sharing arrangement with the All Jharkhand Students Union Party (AJSUP), its partner in office, and that hurt both the parties. The AJSUP mopped up nearly 8 percent of the vote. The states voting differently in the General Elections and in assembly polls is an indication of a powerful federal impulse that seems to have survived the BJP’s push for the centralisation of politics and governance. The Maharashtra and Jharkhand outcomes suggest that ignoring regional factors, and parties, could prove costly for the ruling party at the centre. The ruling NDA will need a course correction in future for survival.