Verdict 2019: How Modi wave and BJP’s efficient election machinery combined to eclipse opposition in Maharashtra

Mumbai | Updated: May 24, 2019 10:44:45 AM

The infight within the state Congress is an additional factor that played out in the election.And also note that opposition leader Vikhe Patil was working for his son who has joined the BJP before elections.

lok sabha 2019, Verdict, narendra Modi wave, BJP, election machinery, eclipse opposition, Maharashtra, Maharashtra lok sabha elections(PTI photo)

By Mundachalil Padmakshan

In the run-up to the national polls, a dominant theme especially in Maharashtra, which has the second highest number of seats to the Lok Sabha – 48, was the agrarian crisis and the response of the incumbent government to the challenge which it posed.

By many metrics, this would have severely tested any government –also in the backdrop of agitation by the influential Marathas, another dominant community in the state. Coupled with that was the frayed ties of the alliance partner-the Shiv Sena in the run-up to the election. All these would have tested any incumbent government. But the final verdict on the lines of the 2014 victory overshadowed everyone and other political parties in many parts of the country.

The Modi charisma has blunted all other challenges. The wave has run its full course in Maharashtra, the second largest state after Uttar Pradesh, winning for the BJP-Sena combine 41 seats out of the 48 seats the state. BJP-Sena combine has contested 25 and 23 seats respectively while Congress and Nationalist Congress Party(NCP) contested 26 and 22 respectively, in the state. It is certainly a repeat of 2014
elections.

Pulwama and Balakot have provided the ecosystem to create a wave on which rode the election machinery of BJP , that has been active  24 hours/ 365 days for the last several years. The synergy of both, the wave and the efficient running of the election machinery, has undermined the otherwise sensitive issues known for impacting elections.The local issues of drought,( the state has been reeling under the severest drought seen since 1971, with no prospect of arresting its annual recurrence in the near future), farmer distress, unemployment, farmer suicides, Dalit discontent, all  have been relegated to the background in this election. The wave rode supreme.

NYAY, Rahul Gandhi’s pet scheme that guarantees a minimum income to the poor has not broken any new ground.

The BJP  volunteers, propped up and guided by Amit Shah have been in touch with the beneficiaries of various schemes the Prime Minister has announced,  much before the Election commission has announced the date of the election. BJP’s and Sena’s workers have been active at the booth level months in advance and have built the infrastructure necessary for electioneering,  while Congress was pathetically lackadaisical and disunited. It also failed to manage the fissures that surfaced within the party.

Replacing the Mumbai Regional Congress Chief Sanjay Nirupam with Milind Deora just two months before the elections is just an example of Congress’ unpreparedness.

The infight within the state Congress is an additional factor that played out in the election.And also note that opposition leader Vikhe Patil was working for his son who has joined the BJP before elections.

The BJP Sena combine has been sqauabbling over several issues for a major part of the period post-2014 election and there were occasions when Sena had even threatened to abandon the ship. Both have
been worried over each other breaching their respective  bastions. However, as most political experts have anticipated, the combine became a formidable  force in time to fight the election together effectively and decisively.

Another factor that may have gone in favour of BJP Sena combine is the entry of  Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi(VBA) an alliance of Dalits, Muslims and other marginalised groups which has contested all the  48 seats in Maharshtra. The alliance is a  brainchild of  Dr B R Ambedkar’s grandson  Prakash Ambedkar, the president of the Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh. He  is joined by Asaduddin Owaisi, the leader of the Hyderabad-based All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen( AIMIM).

The  alliance has drawn huge crowds at its campaign rallies. Dalits and Muslims account for about 25 % of the state’s population.

 

(Author is senior journalist based in Mumbai. Views expressed are personal.)

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