The BJP suffered a massive setback in the recently concluded assembly elections to the five states. The saffron party was routed in Chhattisgarh while in Rajasthan as well, the party has been defeated by the Congress. The saffron party has also lost Madhya Pradesh to the Congress after ruling the state for three consecutive terms.
The defeat of BJP in the Hindi heartland, which is traditional stronghold of BJP and RSS, has changed the political equation of the country and raised the pertinent question whether it would change the political scenario of the country in the forthcoming general election. The most significant outcome of the results of Assembly election of these states is that it has restored normalcy in the political environment of the country.
India was going through an abnormal phase since BJP came to power in 2014. By pushing the BJP out of power in the five states, the electorates have made it clear that they are not ready to accept the poisonous atmosphere orchestrated by the saffron party. The results of the Assembly elations— particularly in the key states of Chhattisgarh, MP and Rajasthan — have altered the BJP’s political narrative.
BJP came to power with the promise of ending the ‘misrule’ of Congress and with the promise of “sabka saath savka vikas”. But immediately after coming power, the party has gone all out to push its Hindutva agenda. There have been continuous attempts by the BJP to saffronise every institution and root out liberal values. Even those institutions which withstand during the emergency were not spared. From 1947 to 2014 it was accepted that India is the epitome of the idea of unity in diversity. BJP rejected the idea of unity in diversity after it came to power in 2014. They wanted a unitary India, a Hindu majoritarian India where Hindus will rule the roost.
They wanted to change the basic structure of the constitution and turn India into a Hindu state. BJP has changed the entire political discourse and hence changed the established narrative of acceptance of the diversity and plurality. The political scenario of the country changed dramatically.
It is imperative to point out that the notion of Hindutva is a political one and it is distinctly different from the age-old Hinduism practiced by the Hindus. If BJP can garner support from the Hindu majority for their Hindutva agenda then the majority Hindu of India will turn to a vote bank of the party and in a country where more that 80% of the people are Hindu it would ensure almost a perpetual rule for BJP. Hindutva is the shortest and most convenient road to power for BJP. The change of political discourses and narratives by the ruling party has inevitably changed the mood of the country.
People who were opposed to the idea of Hindutva and the majoritarianism of BJP are targeted in a planned manner and they have been labeled anti-national. Words like ‘libterd’, ‘prestitute’ and ‘urban Naxal’ are coined to ridicule anyone who is opposed to the ideas of BJP. An atmosphere of fear is prevailing in the country. BJP with the help of state power silenced most of the so called “national media”. There have been constant attempts to gag and silence dissenting voices. The critics of BJP government’s policies have been systematically trolled on social media.
In 1975 Indira Gandhi declared emergency and suspended the fundamental rights including the freedom of expression, BJP has almost managed to do the same without declaring emergency. Power has made BJP arrogant and authoritarian day by day. Party president Amit Shah like a dynast announced that it would prevent Congress from coming to power and vowed to rule India for next 50 years.
BJP came to power in Assam in 2016 but Assam remained free from the hatred and the environment of fear that was prevalent in the Hindi heartland after 2014. Assam’s media too refrained from becoming the official mouthpiece of the ruling party. The population pattern of India is such that it is possible to grab the power in Delhi without the support of the South India, Northeast India, West Bengal, Orissa and Kashmir.
Therefore, a perception prevailed that BJP will remain in power indefinitely if only it can muster the support of the majority Hindu in the Hindi heartland. Despite its miserable performance in the economic front, with its politics of Hindutva and majoritarianism it will cling to power. Apparently, the prospect of Opposition is gloomy.
In this backdrop, the assembly elections in the five states were held. In this election, the majority Hindu voters have ousted BJP from power in the three Hindi heartland states. It dramatically altered the prevailing political scenario of India. Suddenly the invincible BJP looked vincible in its stronghold. The majority Hindu in the Hindi heartland has rejected BJP’s Hindutva and majoritarian politics. Can BJP term the people who removed them from power as anti-national ‘libterds’?
The people of India have shown tremendous political maturity time and again. This time too they have shown BJP that no one can take their support for granted. They know exactly when to show the door to the rulers and ask them to get out.
Brajen Deka is a political analyst.