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Divided Mandate

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There has been a serious setback for the BJP in the Haryana Assembly election, even though the major aspiring opposition party, the Congress, has failed to benefit from it. The failure of the BJP to get even a simple majority – requiring 46 seats in the 90 member assembly -when it was aiming for 75, indicates several things went wrong. That the ‘others’ such as Dushyant Chautala’s ‘Jannayak Janta Party’ and independents will likely have the seats necessary to help form the government has given the entire tale a Karnataka like twist that will ensure instability remains in the state for some time to come. Most exit polls had predicted an easy victory for the BJP. The reason for this may have been the fact that the Congress, seen as the main opposition, was not seen receiving the anti- incumbency votes. It is always hard to read a divided mandate of the sort that has emerged. While the JJP leader, Dushyant Chautala, has reportedly demanded the Chief Minister’s chair for extending support to the Congress, the BJP might be able to mop up the independents to stake a claim for government formation. There is a lesson in this outcome for all parties concerned. It remains to be seen if these are learned. In the case of the Congress, if post result statements are anything to go by, it still remains in a make-believe world, unable to understand the mandate and just happy in its anti-Modi stance! Analysts believe that, by and large, the Jats were unhappy with the Khattar Government, which led to the debacle. The Congress is unable to explain why it could not tap this discontent in its favour. Quite obviously, the ‘first preference’ of many voters was the JJP, and others. Despite voting against Khattar, they still did not opt for the Congress, which is in itself a sorry tale. The BJP must seriously understand that there is a limit to how much Prime Minister Modi’s charisma can do for it in state level contests. Instead of its state governments functioning as add-ons to the larger mandate, they are actually dragging the party down. This is simply because its local leaders don’t have a clue about the ideological line to follow, or the ways to provide good governance. This is clearly being seen in the complacency and arrogance of the party leadership in Uttarakhand, where future state elections could also spring a nasty surprise. Elections aren’t won by last-minute recruitment of Tik-Tok stars – the people aren’t that silly.