The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lost power in three key states of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday, dealing Prime Minister Narendra Modi his biggest defeat since he took office in 2014 and boosting the opposition ahead of national polls next year.
The results in the heartland rural states could force the central government run by Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP to raise spending in the countryside, where more than two-thirds of India’s 1.3 billion people live.
3. Reasons for BJP Losing Ground In Madhy pradesh
In the previous election, the BJP won 165 seats and Congress 58 out of 230 constituency but this time the saffron party has failed to touch the magical mark of 116, because of massive anti-incumbency after 15 years of its rule and the undercurrent was seen in favour of Congress in every region, including Malwa, a BJP’s bastion.
Congress didn’t have this undercurrent in its favour in 2008 and 2013 Assembly elections. Rather there was an undercurrent in favour of Modi-Shivraj particularly in 2013, said senior journalist SA Pateriya.
The second and most important reason is Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s announcement of farm loan waiver within the 10 days of forming government. Since Madhya Pradesh is a farming-dominated state with 40-50% of the population dependent on farming. But, getting accurate minimum support price and heavy farm debt are still issues that matter, said senior journalist Ashutosh Shukla.
Congress’ farm loan wavier announcement, the BJP continuously rubbishing this scheme and adding in its manifesto, and later realising its mistake after cadre feedback did a lot of damage to the ruling party.
Chouhan’s remark on SC/ST Atrocities Act ‘koi Mai ka lal aarkshan nahi chheen sakta’ antagonised a section of upper caste BJP voters. To make matters worse, the central government got the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Bill passed in Parliament. This further antagonised upper, said veteran journalist LS Hardenia.
“Later, Chouhan tweeted that no arrest will be made before enquiry in the cases registered under Atrocities Act. This tweet added fuel to the fire and irked the Dalit community of the state which comprises 21% of the total population of the state,” said Hardenia.
Counting was still underway till the time of writing, with Congress and BJP going neck and neck, even as the Samajwadi Party, which was leading on two seats, announcing its support to the Congress and Bahujan Samaj Party, leading on three seats, denying any coalition with the BJP. In this situation, Congress stands a better chance of forming the government.
It has been a massive mandate in favour of the Congress in Chhattisgarh, more than it had ever achieved in any of the previous elections, including under the united Madhya Pradesh. Thus Congress may reasonably claim that there was a wave in its favour, while it may be closer to the truth that it benefitted the most from a ‘parivartan‘ (change) wave. After 15 years, it is equally reasonable to believe that the BJP suffered from voter fatigue rather than a clear anti-incumbency factor.
But if any two reasons can be pinpointed for the BJP’s defeat, they are: poor grassroots administration and poor MSP rates.
Because of poor grassroots administration, lower level revenue officials have run amok with land records. Forest officials have destroyed forests and every other person in charge of loan, rice, mandi schemes has only looted the treasury. The BJP’s tendency to capture every ration shop, rice milling scheme and government contract for roads, canals, bridges to supply in tandem with government officials also caused the parivartan lehar.
The common complaint against the CM was that she was the most “inaccessible”, “insensitive” and “non-performing” chief minister who was allegedly least bothered about what is happing in the state.
One of the biggest factors that has influenced the election outcomes in Rajasthan is the farm distress. The biggest problem CM Raje faced in this election was the vicious cycle the farmers of the state have got caught in. It does not help that the state is a desert and a water-starved state. The biggest problem the Raje government faced this time was garlic glut in the market when the crop was harvested in March. It had led to farmers’ suicides in Haroti region – Raje’s stronghold, as she hails from the region. Raje government announced a compensation package, which was not exactly a compensation, but a farm loan waiver that waived farm loan up to Rs 50,000, taken from any ‘sahkari’ (cooperative) bank.
According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, the unemployment figure in the state stood at 13.7 per cent in October, over twice the national figure of 6.6 per cent.
Raje came to power promising 15 lakh jobs. She later replaced the word “job” with “employment” and “employment” with “employment opportunities”. She proudly claimed that instead of 15 lakh jobs, her government had provided 44 lakh jobs. However, Rajasthan government’s minister of labour and employment said in December last year that the total number of jobs provided by her government stood at 2.17 lakh.
Chief Minister Vasundhra Raje and Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah did not appear to be on the same page. There was apparently a rift between them over the selection of candidates. Therefore, the saffron party could not change a number of candidates as its central leadership would have wanted. Shah reportedly wanted to change at least 100 sitting MLAs given the huge anti-incumbency against them, but Raje allowed only 45 changes. Her argument was that the party cannot ignore its “committed” workers who have given time to the organisation.
The common complaint against the CM was that she was the most “inaccessible”, “insensitive” and “non-performing” chief minister who was allegedly least bothered about what is happing in the state. She was even inaccessible to her Cabinet collegues.
Cow vigilantism and hate crimes
Rajasthan has been in news for cow vigilantism. The state – according to data with the state police – witnessed at least 23 incidents of cow-related violence in 2017. The data indicates that from January till the end of November, 23 cases of cow-related violence were lodged at police stations in various districts of the state.