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Loser’s Takeaway

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Even as the Congress is facing problems in selecting the Chief Minister to lead its government in Karnataka, the BJP needs to examine the reasons why it lost in its sole South Indian bastion. Analysts have already underlined the party’s failure to garner votes outside of its traditional votebank, and counter the new freebie extravagance made popular by the Aam Aadmi Party. It is alleged that the BJP cadres have become lazy because of overdependence on PM Modi’s charisma. The party has adopted the centralised functioning that has been the bane of the Congress and other dynastic parties. They have advocated promotion of state and local level leaders like Yogi Adityanath to provide governance specific to their respective states. And so on.

There is, however, a deeper malaise. The BJP came to power on the basis of its fundamental ideology, generally described as ‘Hindutva’, as also the economic and governance structure of the ‘Gujarat model’. While the latter has been established at multiple levels by the government under Modi, with its success reflecting in India’s overall rise vis-à-vis the rest of the world, the ideological moorings, politically, which ought to have been nourished by the party have been allowed to scatter. While the traditional ‘secular’ parties were accused of ‘appeasement’ and policy correctives were promised, the party’s supporters have taken it further to Muslim baiting, particularly on social media. This has considerably undermined the ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vishwas’ outreach. Social reform, which was once a primary agenda of the RSS and other affiliated organisations, has been reduced to a conservative approach that ignores the actual conditions of various sections on the ground. So, while the SC and ST communities have been empowered in some parts of the country, they are being neglected in others. This should set off the alarm signals within the BJP and RSS ranks. The visuals of chief ministers making the rounds of the temples should not overwhelm the perception of the general public regarding law and order, dispensation of justice (through effective investigation of crimes), actual implementation of the promise on ‘zero tolerance’ towards corruption, and a genuine understanding of the fundamentals of business and economics. No government that ignores the hooliganism of a cabinet minister can claim it is enforcing the law when it deprives dozens of street vendors of their livelihood by confiscating their carts. If they swear by Ram Rajya, they should live up to its standards or be ready to face Karnataka like consequences.