he results of the elections to four states and one Union Territory on May 2, as the seat figures demonstrate, are a resounding rejection of the BJP’s brand of politics so aggressively championed by its sole leader and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. The biggest takeaway of the polls is the spectacular victory of Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress which has restricted the BJP’s score to a double digit figure. The lead secured by the Trinamool indicates it is a victor on its own right.
Unfortunately for the BJP, the Trinamool reached the mark Amit Shah had bragged during electioneering his party would confidently achieve. Opposition politicians across the country have hailed Mamata Banerjee for inflicting a crushing defeat on the BJP thereby breaking the wheels of the party’s juggernaut. Bengal has rejected the politics of communal polarization so aggressively marketed by the Modi-Shah duo throughout the eight-phase polling. The BJP leadership sought to divide the people by repeatedly threatening that if voted to power it would implement NRC and CAA directed against the Moslem population. The results indicate the attempted polarization has not only led to a consolidation of minority votes for the ruling Trinamool, but the majority Hindoos seem to have smelt danger in the BJP’s pitch for dividing them into lower and upper castes. Bengal results also proved that Hindoos across the country did not feel threatened about their existence and therefore did not require shelter under the Hindootva umbrella opened by the BJP. Although Modi and Shah put their complete armoury to use in Bengal, yet they came a cropper, a poor one at that.
The only glitch was the personal defeat of Mamata from Nandigram constituency against Suvendu Adhikari. While her former constituency, Bhawanipore, has elected a lesser known Trinamool candidate, the discredit of losing her own election should go to Mamata alone. She being the sole leader and campaigner for her party, should not have fallen into the trap of a challenge. Instead of leaving her safe seat and obviously getting trapped, she should have retained her old seat and sent some other TMC heavyweight to battle against Suvendu. An old saying that goes, ‘choose your battles (in politics) carefully’ seems absolutely befitting for her in this event.
The narrative that only Modi could lead India has now fallen by the roadside not only in Bengal but also in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The mauling of the leadership of the BJP in these three states opens a whole new chapter of Indian political narrative. When observed in the context of the BJP’s weak victories in Assam and Pondicherry, it is clear Modi is appreciated in only those places where the doddering Indian National Congress (INC) is the sole contender. Both these places, one a state and the other an Union Territory, have had no alternatives. Pondicherry had a breakaway faction of the INC as a regional outfit, All India NR Congress, with which the BJP was forced to tie the knot. Assam on the other hand, has no regional party worth the name while the INC, after the death of its former CM Tarun Gogoi due to Covid, was faceless.
The Dravida politics of Tamil Nadu is far beyond the realms of Modi-Shah duo to comprehend and master. BJP tying up with a dying horse, the AIADMK, sunk their boat in deep water.
Similarly, the Left Democratic Front (LDF) under Pinarayi Vijayan’s leadership in Kerala did what none of his predecessors had achieved. Kerala is historically known as a see saw state, changing between the LDF and the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) every five years. This is the first time the LDF has won a second consecutive term and has added 8 more seats to its kitty. Here too, the BJP has become irrelevant without being able to win even a single seat. The INC has survived as only a cliff hanger.
The results of these state elections make it amply evident that there is a regional resurgence in India once again. The BJP is capable to handle only the INC. Both these national parties can be observed as losing their relevance very gradually but definitely.