Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The meanings of AAP’s victory? Death-knell to the politics of polarization; burial of 130 year old Congress!

The meanings of AAP’s victory?
Death-knell to the politics of polarization; burial of 130 year old Congress!!
Syyed Mansoor Agha
In recent elections of Delhi assembly, AAP’s victory (AAP-67, BJP-03, and INC-00) has raised several fundamental questions. Is it death-knell to the politics of polarization on the basis of cast, creed, religion and region? Is it grand burial of grand old party “Indian National Congress” of 130 years, with all its divisive political gimmicks? Is it heralding of new era of “people centric” politics and replacement “community centric” polity? Will it change the face of political scenario from rhetoric to realistic; from cruel to humane?
Delhi results are beyond all imaginations, beyond best expectations of the winners and the worst apprehensions of the looser. Assembly elections in Bihar, UP and West Bengal are due within next two years. How the trends emerged in Delhi will reflect upon ensuing elections? Will political weather of the country change like Delhi changed?
Minority vote
What is most spectacular is the shift in Minority vote. Sikhs are only 4% in Delhi. AAP succeeded to win over their 57% voters; a sharp gain of 30%; resulting in defeat of all four SAD-BJP combined candidates. All four Sikh candidates won out of 11 Sikhs belonged to AAP.  
This time 77% Muslims voted for AAP, a shift of 55%. It helped AAP to win 9 out of 10 seats where Muslim voters are above 30%. Only one Muslim dominated seat, AAP lost to BJP is Mustafabad, where Muslim votes divided between Congress stalwart Hasan Ahmad and AAP’s candidate Haji Yonus. All four Muslim members who entered new assembly are from AAP. However this representation is not satisfactory as Muslims population in the state is 12%, while Sikhs are only 4%.
In 2013 assembly elections, Muslim voters overwhelmingly voted for Congress resulting in four of eight winners from Muslim areas. In 2014 there was marginal shift in favor of AAP and Congress was defeated in all seven Lok Sbha seats from the state.  Customary consolidation of Muslims in favor of Congress was not out of love for the party but out of fear of Saffron Party. This time the community found better alternative in AAP with a non-communal, non-partisan humane face; resulting in complete rout of INC. In Lok Sabha elections INC share was over 16%, this assembly elections it dipped below 9%. 62 out of 70 candidates lost their deposits. The shameful drubbing in the National Capital suggests that grand old party has weaned out and now it is preparing for its grand burial.
The record of the party shows stark contrast in its practice and assurances. Party promised for “non-partisan polity”, but always played biased against one section and patronized the other. Let me be frank, fearful of politically and socially well placed minority community, party patriarchs shrewdly engineered diametrical division in their population. And in the process did not hesitate to divide the land of the country in to three. After J&K affiliated (not merged) with Union of India, they hastily forget the condition of the treaty for internal autonomy and treated the peoples as the alien subjects.
Reservation for only Hindu SC/ST is another example. Excuse forwarded for exclusion of non-Hindus is even worse than the sin. INC feared conversions of socially and economically marginalized sections to other religions, therefore sought to keep Hindu SC/ST in their hold and fold. This fear-phobia against 20% Minorities of leaders of 80% majority is funny. Re-construction of Somnath in Gujarat after removing centuries old Mosques, destroying Ayodhya Mosque illegally, denying Muslims proportionate representation in legislature, consistent efforts to dilute their personal laws, blocking their entry into Government services, destroying their properties and business by engineering anti-Muslim riots, denying them justice and thrusting upon them an atmosphere of despair and fear, is all evident. Despite this all Muslims voted for the party. But now they see batter alternative in AAP. In states like Bihar, U.P. West Bengal, where Muslims are in substantial numbers, have already shifted to other alternatives and dumped Congress. Next to the Congress, to be dumped, are those regional parties, who replicate Congress in their deeds and words, provided there emerges better alternative like AAP in Delhi.
Consolidation of 28%
In last Parliament elections we saw consolidation of 28% Hindu vote which catapulted Narendra Modi to the hot seat in Raisina Hill. In Delhi, in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, saffron party cornered 46.4% votes. But in recent assembly elections, BJP could secure only 32.2% votes. A decline of 14.2% against the gain of 21.4% in AAP vote share. AAP also chipped away 5.4% vote from Congress pocket and climbed to 54.3% from 32.9% in Lok Sabha polls. Swing in AAP vote share is not confined to particular class but seen among all economic, social and religious sections. It is not strange that in comparison to 2013 assembly polls, popularity of BJP marginally increased in Jaats (from 49 to 59%) and Vaishs (from 43 to 60%).
Elections 2013-2015
In previous assembly polls in 2013, Sheila Dekshit government was voted out. Undoubtedly her government did lot of development work and changed the face of Delhi. But people wanted change. In the process, AAP emerged second largest party with 28 members. BJP, which was considered natural alternate to Congress, got 31 seats, only 04 less than half way. Congress has 8 members. In recent elections congress lost all 8 seats and BJP lost 28 seats. In parliamentary elections BJP candidates have secured more votes than others in 60 assembly constituencies out of 70. Now it has reduced to 03. This is a big loss for the party and for Modi, who was presented as the face of the party and master campaigner.  We need to understand the factors which helped AAP to gain and caused shift in 21.4 % voters choice in between Lok Sabha polls (April 10, 2014) and Assembly polls (Feb 7, 2015). Also how Modi’s Charisma lost its sheen?
Some Factors
There are multiple reasons of this disillusionment. First Modi won the elections on the promise of good governance, economic growth and huge employment generation. He assured “achche din” (happy days), promised to bring illusive black money and benefit every citizen with Rs. 15 lac; fool proof security to every women; shelter to every family; drinking water to every village etc. The list is long and nothing has changed in last 8 months. People feel they have been distracted by false promises.
A reputed economist, political commentator and a well-wisher of Modi, Surjeet S. Bhalla, counted the reasons of this shift in his commentary: “Dilli ko Gussa kyon aaya” (IE 11 Feb, 2015). He writes:
“But where Modi has failed is in providing political governance. Ever since May 2014, India has been subjected to a barrage of actions oriented towards the encouragement of social disharmony.
a)     The list is long, but here are some examples. “Love jihad”, or attempts to interfere with the private lives of young Indians;
b)     the non-discouragement of honour killings in the name of caste;
c)      ghar wapsi, or attempts to go against the basic tenets of Hinduism in aggressively pursuing proselytisation;
d)      the initiative to make the learning of a dead language like Sanskrit compulsory, as one of three “compulsory” languages;
e)      the continuous attempts to make the lives of minorities even more insecure (burning of churches in Delhi, especially a city going to polls);
f)      the non-condemnation and non-removal of a minister stating that those who were not Hindus were “haramzade”;
g)     the tolerance of statements that Hindu women should have four/ eight kids in order to boost even more the 80 per cent-plus Hindu population;
h)     the continuous pursuit from high-level officials about India being a Hindu nation and the attempt to revive the building of a Ram temple in Ayodhya;
i)       and the wearing of an expensive Rs 10 lakh or whatever embroidered suit for the meeting with US President Barack Obama. For the quarter of Delhi’s households, which live on less than Rs 1.4 lakh a year, that is seven years of food, shelter and well-being.
These tendencies towards social disharmony have been condemned by many. This all adds to the anger of the middle class and the rich — in addition to the anger of the poor.”
We find some more factors which influenced fringe voters. 
j)       4 times BJP MP Sachidanand Sakshi’s comment equating Gandhi to Godse and calling Godse a patriot.
k)     Another BJP MP Adityanath told party men during campaigning in UP to forcibly convert and marry 100 Muslim Girls if a Hindu woman elopes to a Muslim,
l)       Communal violence in Delhi and elsewhere and involvement of BJP cadre,
m)   Personal attacks on Kejriwal; Modi called him ‘anarchist’ and ‘fraudster’. His Minister of State Nirmala Sitaraman called him a chor (thief).
n)     Kiran Bedi refused to debate on the issues of Delhites. AAP desisted from personal attack and spoke only on the problems of the people.
o)     AAP workers were dedicated to the sobriety and to non-partisan agenda. BJP workers were over confident and not so enthusiast as in last two elections.
p)     Kejriwal did not play cards of cast, creed, religion or region. His campaign was people centric.
These and some other factors turned fringe voters away from BJP. Congress was nowhere in the contest. The outcome is exemplary.  
Future Scenario?
In next few months, elections of Bihar State Assemblies are due. In next two years West Bengal an UP will also have Assembly Elections. There is time for Modi for course correction. Big question is ‘has Narendra Modi (a former full time Paracharak of RSS) will, vision and guts’ to pull his party away from aggressive agenda of Hindutva, the RSS lashed out after May 2014? Yes, he has guts and position from where he can dictate and pull the party and Parivar with him. But I doubt he will be able to do so. He cannot digest the idea of a tolerant India that India is. He has devoted best part of his life in promoting ideology of Hindu-Rashtra. He has proudly claimed to be a ‘Hindu Nationalist’ and thus subscribed to the ideology of ‘Hindustan for Hindus only’. However he may like to wrap the agenda in attractive envelope of economic development. Of course Modi in not fanatic by mind, but by heart, he is what is ‘RSS’. He may prefer, and make RSS agree to slow the pace without disturbing his economic agenda.
It can only be hoped that people centric politics will gain ground in other states also. Most likely politics of polarization will be defeated. And the scenario of politics will takes a turn like it took in Delhi. Are we ready for and jump in the fray as ‘khairul ummah’?
Writer is senior Urdu Journalist  
(syyedagha@hotmail.com)

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