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Shock Awaited


One advantage of India being almost always in election mode is that political parties, particularly the ones in power, cannot afford to relax. One way adopted to escape the effort required in permanently contesting is the raising of individuals to iconic status so that votes can be sought in their name, instead of individual candidates’ track records. This was done by the Congress in the names of Pt Nehru and Indira Gandhi, and the BJP now has PM Narendra Modi as its mascot. What this results in, inevitably, is the breakdown of the party work culture. It is only a matter of time before the public mandate is lost and an ugly shock delivered at the hustings. As one can witness in the present day condition of the Congress, it becomes very difficult to rebuild. With the election process underway in Haryana and Maharashtra for the assemblies, and in Uttarakhand for the panchayats, the complacency of the ruling BJP is quite evident. It expects to sweep the elections based on the mandate received for the Lok Sabha. PM Modi’s performance and the nationalistic fervour among the voters are considered the winning mantras. However, the voters cannot be expected to overlook the performance of the state governments in these states. Thanks to the culture left behind by the Congress, those in power begin to think the perks of office as their birthright. Even the much vaunted discipline of the BJP begins to erode in the face of this. Individuals who have risen to power on the basis of the rising tide succumb to self-interest, greed and a delusional belief in their personal power. In Uttarakhand, for instance, these contradictions are already becoming visible as the panchayat elections enter the second phase. A video of Raipur MLA Umesh Sharma ‘Kau’ apparently seeking votes for someone other than the official BJP candidate has become viral. This is only the tip of a growing iceberg. The indifferent performance of the state government is encouraging those with ‘independent’ support bases to work against the party’s interest. In other words, to reap the discontent while remaining an incumbent! It is true that the support for Modi remains intact, but its transference in panchayat elections will be limited. While the Congress may benefit from this disenchantment, independents, too, will reap a rich harvest. The willful and complacent exercise of power by the present dispensation in the state is likely to receive a considerable jolt.