Even though the results had not been declared comprehensively enough on Tuesday to know which alliance would form the government in Bihar, the trend consistently favoured the NDA. This went in the face of exit polls that had declared an emphatic win for the Mahaghatbandhan. The trends in bypolls all over the country, at the same time, communicated a comprehensive message – people continue to strongly support the BJP. One reason for this is definitely the decisive manner in which the Modi Government combated the Covid-19 pandemic. And in contrast to President Trump’s showing in the US election, which was most affected adversely by his actions regarding the pandemic.
To the little extent that Rahul Gandhi campaigned in Bihar, his continuing argument was that Modi’s decisions on demonetisation, GST, Covid, farm laws, etc., were anti-people. The people, themselves, across the states, have emphatically rejected this. There is a serious lesson in this for the Congress. The BJP’s rootedness in the Indian ethos cannot be countered by superficial cleverness and the ‘garibi hatao’ kind of sloganeering. The ground reality of political activism cannot be substituted by the alternative reality of social media. The ordinary folk are fully aware of the real issues and take decisions in this regard. The voters in Bihar, for instance, have shown that they have the political wisdom to distinguish between sincerity and posturing. The exit polls had presented an incorrect picture that electoral promises such as ten lakh government jobs could sway the voter. It is true that the natural anti-incumbency of fifteen years of rule has impacted on Nitish Kumar’s popularity, but the BJP continues on the rise and has possibly picked up the slack. This is not a good augury for Mamta Banerjee in West Bengal, where elections are to be held soon.
There have been voices raised within the Congress and by impartial observers that the party needs a total overhaul of the leadership and re-examination of its ideology. Its obsession with the Nehru-Gandhi family has to be jettisoned. Being in the opposition, it cannot afford to adopt practices normal for it when in power. It may take some years to re-invent itself but there is no alternative. The belief that it is India’s default option cannot be relied upon. Unfortunately, good leadership cannot be ordered from Amazon or Flipkart – a favourable environment needs to be created. The first requirement is that any aspiring leader be confident that he or she can rise to the top jobs and these would not be reserved for the dynasts. Without that, the Congress will constitute the tail wherever it contests.