Elections 2013: Why misinterpret the message?
by Rohit Srivastava on 13 Dec 2013 9 Comments

The results of the four state elections are out. BJP’s comfortable victory in the three states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and its inability to cross the halfway mark in Delhi has given political analysts of all persuasions the opportunity to interpret the polls as per their pet peeves. The Indian intelligentsia has a special ability to ignore facts and cherry pick events to derive an analysis suited to their political benefactors.


The 2013 Assembly elections offer the first major public verdict in the era of social media. Several commentators have acknowledged this new reality, which was earlier brushed aside by the Congress and like-minded parties as politically insignificant. Yet something has changed in India and Lutyens Delhi has failed to read it. This is not the first time this has happened. The Lutyens zone always late to react to new situations; its disconnect with the rest of India is complete.


Within urban India, there has risen a new middle class which is completely urban, whose rural links are broken; this class now constitutes a significant population of India. Till recently, this class was a political orphan, often lacking a place in the voters list due to immigration. But now, urban migrants are settling down in the cities of their choice and are anxious to fulfill their dreams and aspirations, which have not figured in any political discourse. The increased efficiency of the Election Commission has given this class a vote and a voice.


This new voter has shown his political will in the Delhi election in a very significant way. An unknown youth from Bihar has won on the AAP ticket and the same migrants from Bihar have completely cold shouldered Nitish Kumar’s JD (U). This points to the emergence of complex narrative which needs serious study.


In Chhattisgarh, after many flip-flops, Raman Singh received a clear mandate for a third term. The whole anti-incumbency argument deliberated on television was proved wrong. It is true that the brutal assassinations of several Congress leaders in a Maoist attack in May created a sympathy wave in the Maoist belt, but it was heartening that in the last phase of the campaign, almost the whole Bihar BJP leadership joined the battle in Chhattisgarh in a tremendous show of solidarity.


The people put their faith in stability, continuity, and development. The BJP government in Chhattisgarh has literally transformed the state from a backward tribal land into an upcoming industrial power house. Congress’ former chief minister Ajit Jogi played the tribal card with the help of Maoists; apparently Maoist leaders even apologized for killing the party leaders and helped in bringing tribals to the booths. But tribals are proud people and want development, not doles, and the dignity and self-respect which comes from financial independence. The old politics of patronage has received a drubbing in these elections.


The villages are going through a major transformation; they have an urban awareness about the world and every migrant worker brings more and more awareness to his community. Much has changed and much is changing. The UPA has been implementing policies that had resonance two decades ago, but not anymore.

The Gandhi family has surrounded itself with stooges; they have no connect with the people and get no genuine feedback. The media sees the world through the same lenses, diminishing itself to drawing rooms and passing generic statements without substance.


The poor in India have learned, through decades of pro-poor policies, that self-empowerment has greater possibilities than government-sponsored programmes. The internet has reached villages and people in mofussil town and villages have a Facebook account and internet on their mobile phones. They are next to no one in plugging in to the information superhighway. They get information about India and the world in real time, at par with the great metropolitan cities. The spread of English has broken down the artificial barriers created by the Anglophile intelligentsia. This could be the beginning of the destruction of many of the ivory towers of the rootless Indian elite.


Narendra Modi’s development agenda has cut across class, caste and even the barriers of religion in a manner that few expected. His call for an end to the politics of identity in order to install a politics of achievement resonates with the common man. This can be seen in the victory of BJP candidates from Muslim-majority areas. The Muslim population is resisting being caged in a paradigm decided by Muslim elites; the common Muslim wants to join the political mainstream. Narendra Modi’s emergence at this crucial juncture has energized party workers and motivated the cadre. Much of his popularity across States is due to the manner in which he praises and supports the mass leaders in the respective States. This has contributed to the democratization of the party.

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