Himachal Pradesh has seen a healthy turnout of around 75 percent for the assembly polls. This can be interpreted in more ways than one, but the voters’ interest in the process indicates the mandate will be truly representative. The people of the state are clearly aware of the issues and overcame tough weather conditions to exercise their franchise. Although, traditionally, Himachal has been a steadily prosperous state, the choice that will be made is crucial for its future. The wrong decision can prove a considerable setback, particularly in terms of the economy.
Along with the MCD elections in Delhi and the Gujarat Assembly contest, the results will also have an impact on the BJP Government’s mandate at the Centre for the rest of its term. Losses will fire up the Opposition, which presently is at its nadir owing to a number of reasons, not least cases of corruption against its leaders. It has been seen thus far that voters do distinguish between their vote for the Lok Sabha and their local assemblies and civic bodies. Even so, considering the fact that even local elections are being fought with politicians either targeting Narendra Modi or using him to bolster their chances, the distinctions are becoming less clear.
If the BJP wins in these three contests, it will be yet another lesson for the opposition to contest on the basis of its strengths rather than by targeting Modi. There is undoubtedly a constituency that opposes him very strongly but it is not large enough to risk alienating the rest of the population. There has never been greater need for balanced and mature politics than today. The people are aware of this and regardless of caste, communal and regional interests, they realise that their future depends on the overall national well-being.
Local and regional leaders of the presently dominant BJP, too, need to realise that they have to acquire the smarts of their charismatic leader. They have to make efforts of their own rather than look to him to bail them out of every situation. This requires a clear understanding of the development goals and policies that are seeking to change the largely failed model of the past. India is changing and its leaders too much transform.