Our country is in a constant state of volatility. Socio-political and socio-economical entropy cannot be witnessed more accurately in any other nation in the world. Stagnancy and acceptance are demonstrated by the populace when a change is (urgently) required and much required change is shunned out rightly.
This year the Bharatiya Janata Party has been hailed, applauded and handed the reins of governance of the nation by a sweeping public consensus in what can be called a political renaissance. Less than three months later we see the magic begin to fade. The recent by-polls in the states of Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Karnataka and West Bengal proved to be a hurdle for the BJP juggernaut. The numbers are a sordid tale of what may seem to be dwindling faith in the saffron party. In Uttar Pradesh, where Amit Shah had toiled intensely to generate pro-BJP sentiments among the people for the Lok Sabha elections and one of the states that helped power it to the New Delhi office, the Bhartiya Janata Party stomached a bitter defeat as the the Samajwadi party won 8 of the 11 seats for which by-elections were held. The BJP lost 13 of the 24 seats it had in the state. The Samajwadi Party won eight of the 11 assembly seats; the BJP won the three remaining seats. Ten of those were held by the BJP, vacated by legislators who became MPs as the party virtually swept the state in national elections four months ago.
Another state that catapulted BJP’s success in both the national and state elections a few months back, narrated a similar tale where in the Congress has won three of the four assembly seats. In Rajasthan too the BJP had held all four seats that went up for by elections but has managed to defend only one.
Even on the home turf of Gujarat, Anandiben Patel and her MLAs were able to defend only 6 out of the 9 constituencies that went to polls. In Karnataka too the party managed to win only one of the three seats with B.Y. Raghavendra winning just over 6,000 votes in Shikaripur.
The only real victory can be said to have been achieved by the party in West Bengal where it won one of the two seats, giving Bengal its only BJP MLA.
The phenomenon may seem to be an anomaly in the general pattern, but the anomaly does not occur randomly. The Bharatiya Janata Party enjoyed a whopping majority in the Lok Sabha because the people chose a leader who stood apart from communal politics, had a clear agenda for the nation, and encouraged business and inclusive growth. They did not vote for BJP as much as they voted for a Modi government at the Centre. With Narendra Modi being secured for the Centre, the people are now discovering the cracks and weaknesses in the party structure that flows down to the States. People are also realizing that even if the Prime Minister is not, but the party was and remains to be primarily a political wing of the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh. The communal sentiments, anti-Muslim ideologies, wariness towards globalization are seething under the cool exterior.
The BJP in Gujarat thrived primarily on the personality cult of its ex-Chief Minister, and with him out of the picture, and with the groundwork left to Anandiben Patel, the weaknesses at the grass root level lay exposed.
The exit of Amit Shah from Uttar Pradesh has been most detrimental to the prospects of the party in the State. Shah nurtured the party in the State for over a year, he rooted out the radical and more Sangh influenced leaders from control and took charge of the political base. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections the BJP managed to bag only 10 out the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh, but in the 2014 elections the party had won 71 of the 80 seats in UP. With Shah becoming the President of the party and moving out of UP, the reins have traveled back to the leaders who are more influenced by the RSS ideologies rather than Modi’s mantra of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas.
The local BJP leaders and members of conservative Hindu groups campaigned to spread the word about what they called “love jihad,” which they alleged was a conspiracy by Muslims to marry Hindu girls as part of a plan to increase India’s Muslim population. The face and voice of this campaign was the infamous Yogi Adityanath and Laxmi Kant Bajpai. Adityanath was in charge of BJP’s Uttar Pradesh campaign, while Bajpai is the chief of the state unit there who asserted that all Indians are Hindus, fanned religious tensions by warning Hindu families about the so-called love jihad.
It does not take a wise man to see how far removed this campaign has been from what was witnessed prior to the Lok Sabha elections. It is painfully clear that there are two opposing forces working within the party and the Prime Minister is having a hard time appeasing both without letting internal party issues hamper good governance. The party workers are getting increasingly concerned about the objectives of Hindutva, Ram Temple in Ayodhya, the Kashmir issue and the Muslims of the country.  So, while our Prime Minister is working on international relations, global trading networks, education and industrialisation the party members are demanding a Hindu state, eradication of Islam, a Ram temple built in Ayodhya, and removal of Article 370.
The elections of 2014 were fought and won by Modi’s agenda and his principles, whereas these by elections have been a massacre of those principles and ugly display of the ideologies of that drive party cadre deeply indoctrinated by RSS values. The Prime Minister is certainly proving to be a man of his own mettle. His recent activities and statements, such as the appointment of former McKinsey India chairman, Adil Zainulbhai, a Bohra Muslim, to chair the Quality Council of India, and his keenness to appoint retired Lt-General Syed Ata Hasnain as the next governor of Jammu & Kashmir show that he is not toeing the lines set by the Sangh.
The party members have to realize that they cannot ride the Modi tide any longer. A single man may be the face of the party but that is not enough to retain the trust of the people. The people need to know that the ideals and principles showcased by the leader of the party are also incorporated in the other members of the party, at every level.
It has been more than two decades now that the country has witnessed leadership in its most unadulterated form. But the questions seem to be that who is Modi leading? Who are the people who constitute the party? Where do their loyalties lie? It is undeniable that the 2014 election would not have been what they were without the RSS campaigning extensively; it is also undeniable that the party is deeply and intricately intertwined with the Sangh and its ideologies. So what needs to be seen is how far against the party mandate is the Prime Minister ready to go to give to the nation what it has been promised.
About the Author
Sneha is an aspiring lawyer studying at Symbiosis Law School, Pune. She is a cinephile who also loves to read, even if it’s a manual of a device.