A large number of analysts blame anti-incumbency as the reason behind BJP losing three Hindi heartland states, but that is just an easy factor to blame.
By Dr Aruna Sharma
Analysis of election results from five states shows that the voters have their priorities right. A large number of analysts blame anti-incumbency as the reason behind BJP losing three Hindi heartland states, but that is just an easy factor to blame. When we search deeper, it becomes clear that ‘good governance’ was the issue that decided voter preferences. The voters have rejected the discourse of shaming individuals and divisive politics in the name of caste and religion.
Let us take the case of Telangana. TRS got a thumping majority because the KCR government has been focusing on putting systems in place to ensure that households benefited through ‘Kutumbh Samagra’ scheme, and on systematically working ‘towards a shift away from water intensive cropping patterns. The government has also initiated steps to bring back manufacturing industry to the state to generate employment. Because of the development agenda, caste and religious issues could not dominate election debates. The combining of opposition, making it a direct contest between the Congress and TRS, also did not influence the voters.
Madhya Pradesh results also throw up some interesting findings. The state is coming out the status of ‘Bimaru’ state due to the initiatives to implement direct benefit transfer and excellent infrastructure growth. This helped the government to put up a credible fight in the face of 15 years of anti-incumbency. But chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan failed to curb divisive propaganda, which took the focus away from his achievements.
In Rajasthan, Vasundhara Raje managed to come up with a credible performance due to her campaign around good governance. Here also the BJP fell victim to the dominant discourse revolving around caste and religion.
In Mizoram, the sitting government suffered a humiliating defeat because its focus shifted from development needs of the state.
The voting clearly reflects the aspirations of young Indians, who constitute 65% of the country’s population. For the youth, caste, religion and other divisive agenda definitely do not matter. They supported good work, but stopped short of giving majority where there is a faint fear of divisive politics. It is, therefore, important for the new governments in these five states to build upon the good work done by the earlier governments and focus on generating higher incomes.
(The author is former secretary, ministry of steel, government of India. The views are personal.)