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Millennium Post

Bypolls signify India is bipolar

Politics of hysteria has a sell-by date. A silent prime minister focusing on development while a lunatic fringe escalating the rabid frenzy of memes like ‘love jihad’ cannot be deemed acceptable. If the by-poll results in 33 assembly seats and three Lok Sabha seats are any indication, India’s political bipolarity has been duly underscored.

Results of the by-elections in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Assam, among other states, are a resounding affirmation of India’s forgotten secularism and a firm rejection of any attempt to steer the nation towards a more virulent brand of religious fanaticism, of every hue and kind. So, if the BJP, the ruling party at the centre, has suffered grievous losses barely three months into their landslide victory in the national elections, something must have been misread by the top guns in the party and the government.

In UP, it has lost 8 out 11 assembly seats to Samajwadi Party, even after months of bitter campaign orchestrated by none other than the now BJP president, Amit Shah. But the inability to repeat the Lok Sabha performance, wherein 72 out of 80 seats went to BJP’s kitty, despite fanning the flames of communal hatred through ideologues like Adityanath, among others, or distributing pamphlets targeting Muslims, is a pointer that mainstream tolerance towards religious intolerance too has a threshold, and clearly it’s not as high as some in the saffron camp would want it to be.

Let’s just rewind what had been the fundamental premise of the Modi wave, so successful only 100 days back and certainly the crux of the national mood. It was a strong anti-incumbency mixed with a euphoric acceptance of Modi mantra – minimum government, maximum governance. There was emphasis on efficiency, alacrity and honesty as far as bureaucracy was concerned. It is true that the Prime Minister has delivered on a number of issues, chiefly foreign policy and investment ambience of the country.

There have been multibillion-dollar deals with Japan, Vietnam, exchanges with Nepal and Bhutan, while high-level talks with China and the US are in the pipeline. But can this centralist thrust offset how neglected the peripheries have been? In Modi’s determination to consolidate his space on the international dais, the hardworking PM has blindsided how disparaged state-level politics has become.

That he chose to leave the matters to his minions, who either misread his intention to extricate himself from the albatross that is political Hindutva, or chose to test his patience and gain brownie points through telegenic rabidity, says that even the PM is not infallible. The only message that the by-election results send out is that India is unpredictable. And the best way to win it over is still good and inclusive governance, with its fingers on the pulse of this many-hearted nation.         

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