Bihar election results are long in and belligerent BJP is eating humble pie. Arrogance of RSS and other Hindu supremacists is replaced by tacit silence. Bihar is the last place in the country to learn a lesson on fair play but in this case many lessons can be learnt by every person.
Why BJP lost Bihar would be reinventing the wheel. Bihar was lost for the same reasons it was always lost. Caste polarisation. Real question to be answered is: Does the BJP understands as to how and why it won last General Election?
Another good question would be: Did BJP won last general election or was it Modi or both?
Caste polarisation politics:
It is said that in Bihar ‘MY’ was added with D and the resultant ‘MYD’ won. M stands for Muslim, Y stands for Yadav and D stands for Dalit or very backward caste.
If that be so, what is new in it. This is the story of India. People, for decades forced into caste politics as no politician delivers. Elector takes pride in the fact that his caste is in power and that the politician in power is approachable in personal distress even if s/he is useless as public servant.
In the face of this caste politics, BJP has been known as Brahmin/Bania Party which is supported by urban Middle Class. It fought this election with allies which is collectively called NDA. Last election of 2014 has seen an increase in vote share of BJP from 24% in 2009 to 31% in 2014 and that of NDA to 41%.
Caste politics in India:
Caste is like sanguine affinity in India which has parallel only with the selection of horses in Derby. 80% of voters in Bihar belong to backward caste. Caste system in India has a hideous past. For centuries the Upper caste people exploited lower castes. After independence the caste system rook a new turn. Upper caste (mostly but not always Brahmin/Priest) people started a new affinity. They would favour each other solely on the basis of caste. Brahmins were and are on top it. It worked this way. I am looking for a staff and two/three candidates apply. They are more or less similarly qualified and then as a brahmin I favour brahmin boy and appoint him.
This happens and is still happening. Now there is a reaction from the lower caste people who form 80% of population. They have come together to oust upper caste. The father of this caste politics are two Yadavs both now related to each other by marriage of their grandchildren. They openly and when inconvenient, tacitly demand votes on the basis of caste and win elections after election in U.P. and Bihar. For decades. They claim to be socialists but live an opulent life style which would blush Kings and Princes with envy.
Arrogance v. Arrogance
Arrogance can not be overcome by arrogance. Nitish Kumar (present Chief Minister) is known arrogant like an energetic adolescent. His break up with BJP was another reflection of it. Narendra Modi has his own reasons. He achieved what no one could do in last 30 years. But his combat with Nitish ended badly. It was the same David vs. Goliath syndrome that helped Nitish Kumar.
Amit Shah as star campaigner from another state is neither an orator nor has charisma for public speaking. It did not help that he is party president of BJP. Worse there was no projected state leader to make comparison with Nitish. People chose clarity or ambiguity.
Caste v. Change
Democracy works when population is educated.
Slogans and rhetoric attract illiterate or less informed voters. A rational and logical person looks at results. Unfortunately India still has largest no. of such illiterate voters. While BJP could not increase its voters other three parties selected seats on the basis of above MYD factor and transferred its vote share to the other at the place where it did not contest. BJP’s hope of young voters abandoning the MYD polarisation, did not materialise. It is to be noted that about 14 months back, during Parliament’s election this factor seemed to work to an extent. Hence Back to the two questions raised above:
Does the BJP understands as to how and why it won last General Election?
Not at all. It has little clue.
Did BJP won last general election or was it Modi or both?
Actually it was Congress which lost and it was Narendra Modi who won. Urban and Middle Class voters chose Modi because of his development work in Gujarat. Rest working class voter identified with him as an erstwhile tea vendor. Those who did not understand anything still identified him as OBC or a Backward caste (being Modh Teli caste or oil extractor).
True credit of Modi’s victory goes to Mani Shanker Aiyer, a congress politician who called Modi as a tea vendor (Chai wala) during election campaign and Modi seized it as election slogan. By one foot in mouth Mani Shanker gave Modi an election slogan which became so famous that 8 months later when USA President visited India, he reiterated that if tea vendor can be prime minister of India anything is possible. Again 14 months later British Prime Minister Cameron reiterated the slogan from Wembley a month back. Cameron said “They said “chaiwala” will never govern world’s largest democracy, but he proved them wrong.”
Now history is desperately waiting to happen. Would Modi be India’s third pan India mass scale leader? Nehru and India were such leaders. Because if Modi does not assert on fringe elements, he would appear weak and weak image does not help make a person pan India mass scale leader. His oratory skill though unparalleled in the world, alone would not suffice.
Another lesson is that to win major election right approach is to focus on issues not on caste, religion or such stupid notions . There are always local leaders who get elected on such non issues. BJP rather NDA if it aims to come back into power has to transform its image from a Hindu party to a Modern Pan India party for everyone. Unless it can do that, 2019 will see re-emergence of local parties with opportunistic coalitions which have eaten into resources of country for last three decades through termite of corruption. This is assuming that Modi will deliver substantially on his promises of development.
Meanwhile enjoy this is video of Lalu Prasad Yadav ridiculing and mimicking Modi: