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Looking Ahead


Most experts are attributing the BJP’s victory in UP to, essentially, the impact of welfare schemes on the voters. This trumped the traditional caste and community politics of the challengers. Earlier politics that saw the rise of the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party led to the proliferation of small caste based outfits that seek to benefit from the swing of their marginal votes. The effect of this has been fragmentation of larger coalitions led by the SP or BSP. It has led to people focusing more on personal needs rather than on real or imagined communities. The increased preference of women for the BJP across communities, despite the inclinations of their men folk, has also been noticed.

This is a boost for politics based on good governance, rather than for divisive agendas. Caste and community politics will receive a big blow when the Muslims begin also to vote on lines other than merely an anti-BJP bias. Dominant castes, too, can no longer have their satraps negotiate on their behalf as the vote does not transfer. This was seen in areas where the farmers’ agitation was expected to have an impact. The Jats, too, did not conform to the idea that they resented the BJP.

Is this an indication that India is entering another stage in democratic functioning? Just as UP has its divisions, India too has numerous bastions of claimed distinctness, such as Tamil nationalism, which ensure more government focused ideologies are kept out. If the focus on a better quality of life for people begins to pay dividends, it is bound to affect voter behaviour. The many shortcomings in the system that deny good leaders the opportunity to contribute to governance will hopefully be removed. (An increase in the number of parliamentary and assembly constituencies through fresh delimitation would speed up the process through better representation.)

Political parties, too, should choose their leaders keeping this in mind – just continuing with the present feudal adherence to individuals and families is bound to consign them to the dustbin of history. There may, for instance, be hope for the Congress to become a functional party if the Gandhis are removed, but absolutely none if they remain. And, considering the fact that fate has entrusted the BJP to play a transformative role, it must continue its focus on the development agenda, with all the implications that may have on the Idea of India.