The Congress appears all set to shatter BJP’s dream of retaining the power in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. India’s grand old party has taken a big lead in these states and is in a close contest with BJP in Madhya Pradesh. Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee (RPCC) chief Sachin Pilot said the people of Rajasthan have outright rejected the ‘arrogant’ BJP. He said the vote is against BJP’s politics and policies. In Rajasthan, the Congress is leading in 100 constituencies and BJP is ahead on 74 seats. In Chhattisgarh, the Congress was leading in 65 seats, while the ruling BJP was a distant second at 17.
In Telangana, the clear winner was K Chandrashekhar Rao-led TRS, with its candidates leading in 87 constituencies, leaving People’s Front led by the Congress (21) way behind. In Mizoram, the MNF had established the lead on 26 seats followed by Congress which was leading on 5 and the BJP on 1 seat.
By all standards, the Assembly Elections in five states was a high-stakes battle for both the Congress and the BJP. The results will be significant for the BJP with many terming them as a precursor for the upcoming 2019 general elections. According to Shiv Sena, the results of assembly elections in five states are indicating that there is a need for the ruling coalition to introspect.
While the Congress may be claiming that there was a wave in its favour, political pundits say the party gained heavily from the wave of parivartan (change). Here in this article, we are presenting some points that have caused BJP’s defeat in these states:
Farm distress has been cited as one of the biggest reason for BJP’s poll debacles in three major states. BJP’s grassroot workers and activists say the party “heavily” underestimated rural distress. In December, a massive protest was organised by farmers in Delhi to draw the attention of the entire country, but there was complete silence from PM Modi and his agriculture minister. Around 1,200 farmers from Tamil Nadu stripped themselves and covered their body parts with the skulls and bones of their fellow farmers who committed suicide in the past years. The pictures went viral on social media. In rural Chhattisgarh, such is the discontent among the farmers, that even Raman Singh (the incumbent chief minister) led Rajnandgaon with a very narrow margin. The agriculture growth rate which was 5.6 per cent in 2013-14, dipped to (-) 0.2 per cent in fiscal 2014-15. Escalating overall cost, declining agricultural commodity prices and weak incomes have led to thousands of farmers committing suicides in recent months.
The biggest issue in front of the Modi government is regarding unemployment. A report released by the Centre for Sustainable Employment of the Azim Premji University, the rate of unemployment is the highest seen in India in at least the last 20 years. The shortage of jobs sees 82 per cent of men and 92 per cent of women earning less than Rs 10,000 per month. PM Modi stormed into power by promising to create 1 crore jobs each year. However, there is no data to show that the government has created the requisite number. While programs like ‘Make in India’ helped the country to gain investment, there is no official data on job numbers.
According to a Reserve Bank of India (RBI) report, PM Modi’s demonetisation policy, wiped out at least 1 per cent from the country’s GDP and cost at least 1.5 million jobs. The demonetisation was carried out to check black money, terror funding and promotion of digital transactions, but not only had it caused hardships to millions of people, it failed to curb terror activities. The biggest sectors that got severely hit by this move were manufacturing, mining and quarrying and construction.
Caste, quota troubles
In Rajasthan, caste identities play a big role and affect voting behaviour. Four dominant castes in the state — Rajputs, Gujjars, Jats and Meenas — have traditionally supported either the BJP or the Congress. However, these communities are known to switch loyalties depending on pre-poll factors. Rajputs were clearly irked with BJP because of denial of a poll ticket to Jaswant Singh in 2014, and the screening of Padmaavat despite protests. A section of political pundits feel that strong anti-Dalit sentiments among upper castes might have taken votes away from ruling BJP.
The BJP made loads of promises in its manifesto for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The party mentioned that it would ensure shelters equipped with electricity, water, toilets to everyone, but it seems to be far from reality in most parts of the country. Another factor that seems to be irking many is the failure of the government to control the prices of petroleum products. For a very long period, the country has been reeling under highest ever petrol and diesel prices.