Rajasthan by-poll: Who will learn the lesson?

By Santosh Bhartiya

A very strange question crept into mind: Will there be spike in Kasganj-like incident, especially after BJP’s lost in Rajasthan by-poll? Although Kasganj did not benefit the BJP in Rajasthan, but people are alarmed. This alarm is due to the narrative which lacks communal harmony, undermine secularism and intimidate Muslims. Muslims comprise fifteen to twenty percent of country’s population, but their share in power is negligible. However, today’s topic is had the BJP learned any lesson from the results of Gujarat elections? Right after results of Gujarat election I had said that perhaps the BJP will not learn a lesson from the results and that is exactly what happened. Rajasthan is the most important fort for the BJP, and it is almost slipped out of their hands. In the wake of election the Prime Minister inaugurated a refinery and with the assertion that in Rajasthan, the Congress only laid foundation stones, and we are the one who will complete the work and promise to inaugurate thereafter. It is hoped that the BJP will fulfill this promise.

In Rajasthan, the Congress won the seat vacated due to the death of BJP MLA Kirti Kumari. From Ajmer Lok Sabha seat the BJP had fielded the son of deceased MP from the same seat with the hope that he would get sympathy vote, but that did not happen. The question is not that who won with what margin; what matters is victory. The fact of the matter is that the seats BJP won in 2014 with big margin, the Congress manage won very easily. After Gujarat elections, it was expected from the BJP that they will reorient their lopsided policies vis-à-vis farmers and do something concrete for them on war footing. The budget did not break ice for farmers; it failed to suggest ways and means to improve farmers’ condition. The biggest demand of the farmers, which is also the demand of Rajasthan farmers, is to implement Swaminathan Commission report. During his elections campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised the farmers that his government will add additional fifty percent of the cost of farming to the MSP. That promise remains promise. In 2019, if the BJP again forms the government at the center, then perhaps this promise could be fulfilled. The budget is silent as to how the farmer get appropriate price for their yield, how farmers will be liberated from the clutches of middlemen and how their despair will be transformed into hope? One interesting thing is that when the Finance Minister was reading his budget speech, trends of Rajasthan by-poll results started emerging on social media.

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Farmers in Rajasthan are furious with the government. They are equally unhappy with their Chief Minister. We published at least two reports pointing out Vasundhara Government failure at the administrative level. We had also enumerated the reasons. One of them was frustration in the bureaucracy. This frustration has instilled negativity in people about Vasundhara Raje government. I also express my view about the Congress after Gujarat elections. I wrote that the Congress had a chance to convert its defeat into victory, but the Congress will also not learn any lesson from that. It seems that the Congress has also not learned any lesson. The Congress victory in Rajasthan is more of a BJP’s defeat than a Congress victory. In order to vent their anger against the BJP, people chose the Congress, the next available option. Obviously, this victory will elate the Congress and instead of strengthening its organization in the state, the party will involved in celebration. As a result, the Congress may face many difficulties in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections or in the Assembly Elections to be held in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

Leave the Congress alone for the moment with its problems, but what has happened to the BJP? The BJP has ignored the voices emanating from the ground and is unwilling to give shape to its promises. The BJP got overwhelming support in the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assembly elections because Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sought vote in his name. He had also announced that I was responsible for the development of the states. But people did not see Prime Minister’s intervention in any of the BJP-ruled state in the name of development. The Prime Minister had turned a blind eye to the administrative negligence in Rajasthan. In Rajasthan, BJP MLAs had registered their complaints to Amit Shah, but their complaint remained unheard by the prime minister. That is the reason for the results that came out in Rajasthan. I once again assert that the Congress’s victory in Rajasthan is more of a BJP’s defeat and manifestation of people’s anger. The more complacent Congress will become, the easier it will be for the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections.

I won’t say more about West Bengal. In West Bengal, Mamta Banerjee has once again proved that she is still undisputed leader of the state. Whatever image she has in Delhi, the people of Bengal are behind her. The saddest story of West Bengal is the situation of the Communist Parties. They got only 8576 votes in the Uluberia Lok Sabha seat. The CPM got less number of votes than the BJP. But TMC was way ahead on both the seats. In Rajasthan, Sachin Pilot says that the mandate is against the government and they hope that their popularity will be sustained. Sachin Pilot appears to be more optimistic.

Another sad commentary is that of third front. Of course Yashwant Sinha has launched Rashtra Manch. The rest of non-Congress and non-BJP parties, which were considered to be the components of the Third Front, are not able to come together and form an alliance. When I asked the people of Rajasthan about why they chose to vote to the Congress, they replied that there was no alternative. If there was an alternative, they would probably have chosen that option. This is the scenario of every assembly and Lok Sabha elections. Opposition parties have no dialogue among themselves, let alone forging an electoral alliance. Perhaps this is the reason why Yashwant Sinha has to declare that they are not going to contest elections and only run awareness campaign. He is still with the BJP. Another Rashtra Manch member Shatrughan Sinha is in the BJP. The people are aware of this strange political scenario, and perhaps that is why they did not support independents this time. If the independents win, then the same old Aaya Ram Gaya Ram (one fall after another) scenario will start. The irony is that the people have no alternative except the Congress and the BJP. The only hope of the third front was Nitish Kumar who chose to join the bandwagon of the ruling party.

Rajasthan elections give message to all. To the BJP: they should concentrate on implementing whatever announcements they made are workable, should not ignore the farmers and unlike flop Fasal Bima Yojna, take some concrete steps to bring positive change their lives. The Congress will remain in its happy delirium. Opposition people will keep knocking the doors of the BJP or the Congress, taking their grievances. The idleness of opposition leaders is fast propelling the country into a two-party democratic system. This two-party system may at any time bring a President’s rule like situation in the country. And this is a major concern of the people. The Rajasthan government, the opposition in Rajasthan and the people of Rajasthan have all given enough signals to the country. They need to be understood.

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