Saffron Sunday all over again
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s gamble in Maharashtra and Haryana has paid off. It has emerged as the single largest party in the land of Marathi manoos, still under the sociocultural sway of late Bal Thackeray, whose Shiv Sena has come second. In Haryana, the Jat heartland, it has achieved simple majority, upstaging ruling Congress and INLD. Effectively, BJP, the rank outsider in both these states, has managed to so completely change the political fabric of the regions, so absolutely outplay the primary contenders, that this feels like a rerun of the Lok Sabha election results once again. There were no regional faces to pull crowds here, just that very potent potion of Modi-Shah combine, the faces that launch a thousand hashtags these days, and command votes and sentiments like no other. Modi-fied BJP has won 122 seats in Maharashtra (out of 288 total), while in Haryana, it has bagged 47 seats (out of 90) – a result that has systematically overturned last decade of Congress-alliance rule in both states. Given this was a contest between brand Modi and brand Gandhi, the outcome is a clear pointer towards the years to come in national politics. Beyond numbers and the mass organisational base that have worked in BJP’s favour this time, there is also that volatile thing called national mood, which is overwhelmingly in Modi’s court now.
It is obvious: beyond the anti-incumbency and the anti-corruption planks, BJP has been ferried over by the singlemost decisive factor in the elections: Narendra Modi. His relentless campaigning worked like a charm again. The Congress, all too symbolically bankrupt, made little effort in countering it. The NCP in Maharashtra, all too bogged down by the weight of its own scams and scandals, quietly tided over the period, having severed its 15-year-old link with Congress, and is now waiting in the wings, hoping to be called in by the victorious BJP. The CM candidature is almost an afterthought: there’s the dependable Devendra Fadnavis in Maharashtra, even though Haryana swims in a pool of happy uncertainty, drawing out the suspense for longer. This is the politics of post-politics. It’s number crunching. And the best arithmetician has won.