Though we still have to wait for Jharkhand and J&K in 2014, Bihar in 2015 and finally, Uttar Pradesh in 2017 but Maharashtra and Haryana left no suspense over the fact that BJP by occupying the centre is uprooting the Congress system. The two state election results, one is near to Capital and other is far west, show not only the defeat of Congress but the end of Congress politics. In both these states, BJP has been a minor political player and now jumped, some say suddenly, to form the government. But sudden incidents also have some basis and background.
Both these results throw light on four major facts: Congress dominance aligned with Maratha dominance in Maharashtra and with Jat dominance in Haryana is failed, BJP is no longer confined to urban pockets and upper castes, BJP entered into lower social strata like OBC in Maharashtra and Dalits in Haryana and, by making caste coalition of OBC, Dalits and Upper castes, it is very fast replacing Congress, not of 2014 but of 1980’s. These all four factors clearly vindicate the tectonic shift taking place in Indian politics.
In Maharashtra, Congress faced difficulty in 1967, 1977 and 1989 but still remained the dominant force with tight control over the political economy. In the post-congress periods, it lost once in 1995 and bounced back in 1999. Even the split of Sharad Pawar in 1978 and 1999 did not uproot it in Maratha politics. It was possible not because of Congress grass-root base but the Congress politics which is famously known for holding the support of caste or community elites. Since 1995, Maratha community had started deserting from Congress but with the hold over Maratha elites, Congress-NCP ruled three times thereafter.
In 2014, when common voters of all castes or communities’ started asserting themselves for politics of aspirations under the leadership of Narendra Modi, the beginning of the end of Congress politics also started. In 2014, BJP has replaced both Congress (INC and NCP) not through bringing a new social equation but it has successfully forged a nearly impossible alliance of Maratha-Kunbi, Brahmin, OBC, SC, Buddhist and ST communities. It is generally referred or will be referred that BJP has defeated both Congress by new caste coalition by non-Maratha and non-Brahmin leaders like N S Farande, Anna Dange, Pandurang Fundkar, Gopinath Munde, Eknath Khadse, Sudhir Mungantiwar, and Vinod Tawde but if it is true, it has happened only because of two facts, end of Congress politics as its time expires and new hope which is sweeping all over the country.
In Haryana, BJP went from 4 to 47 and formed the government with the comfortable majority under a non-Jat leader which is historic not in the sense of only marginalising Jat dominance but bringing together all castes including Dalits first time under one banner against corruption, land mafia, atrocities against women and spreading drugs or smuggling. If this new historic leap of BJP will be read only in terms of aligning Dalits and non-Jat voters, it will be injustice to those who came to polling booths based on issues which were burning under Congress under Hooda was ruling here again under the same Congress politics formula to cater the needs of caste elites, at Panchayat or Khap or at Municipal Corporation level, allegedly through corporate houses and business patrons or land mafia. If it was non-Jat politics then question arises that in adjoining western Uttar Pradesh, how BJP has swept against all just before four months. BJP did not project the CM candidate of any caste and a Jat leader like Captain Abhimanyu Singh was a frontrunner in the public eyes. So, it is a misnomer that BJP played strategically a non-Jat politics to win Haryana. Yes, it has gone beyond Jat politics in Haryana. So, it has ruined the Congress politics which was synonym of Jat dominance. On the social equation line, it was completely all inclusive politics because all major caste leaders are given importance. A Jat leader like Captain Abhimanyu Singh and Chaudhary Virendra Singh, Gujjar leader like Krishan Pal Gujjar, an Ahir leader like Rao Inderjit Singh, Punjabi leader like Manohar Lal Khattar, Brahmin leader like Ram Bilas Sharma and Anil Vij. Further, BJP has landed all Dalit leaders in all SC areas months before the election. Out of all 90 constituencies, 17 are reserved for SC out of which BJP won 9 seats.
Under vote bank politics, Congress promised Jat to give them reservation which has worked neither in Lok Sabha nor in the Assembly election. So, people have not rejected only the Congress but the Congress politics which has been only attempting to assuage caste elites. In Haryana, BJP has consolidated Jat, Dalits, Ahirs, Brahmins and Gujjars on the issue of development and corruption free governance. It is proved by the maiden electoral victory of Manoharlal Khattar in Karnal, by more than 63,000 votes. This is the same constituency where party's workers and supporters launched a signature campaign, asking the party leadership to field a local candidate instead of him.
The choice of Khattar and Fadnavis has a clear message, organisational commitment and performance oriented approach is more important than a primordial identity of a leader. Not only in social equations but even in geographical spread, the BJP has defied conventional equations. Both in Maharashtra and Haryana, BJP still has a good hold over urban pockets but going beyond that, it is now a ‘national’ party in real sense of the term by register presence in every nook and corner of the states. Similarly, by doing away with politics of dominant castes, it has gone deeper into all complex caste ridden society and brought a new social equation. This political equation of acceptance, by taking all inclusive support, was the basis of existence of Congress before 1989, now BJP is occupying that space.
–Naveen Kumar (The writer is a senior political analyst and VP of Viplav Communications Pvt Ltd)