For long the BJP was being dismissed as a political party of north India which had no relevance in other parts of the country. This myth was first broken in 2008 when the Party won the elections to the Karnataka Assembly on its own, thus capturing a major southern State. Eight years from then on, the Party has entered eastern India for the first time winning the Assam Assembly Elections in style. The BJP might still be an untouchable for the so called secular political parties, but no so for the people of India, the results of the recent round of elections have shown. Today there is a BJP presence from Jammu and Kashmir to Kerala and from Gujarat to Assam.
With gaining new grounds for nationalist forces on its soil, Assam is poised to have a constructive, developmental and futuristic Government against its dynastic, divisive and destructive past. Taking geographical and demographic factors into account, the surge of BJP in Assam, West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu has a strategic and ideological importance too. While Assam, as a pivotal state among Ashta Lakshmis, is strategically very important, the ideological ground gained in Kerala asserts that only a nationalist force like BJP can fight the menace of Communism and other divisive powers. Assam badly needed was a government imbued with nationalism as it had been turned into a playground by separatist forces. The Assam verdict is a vote against the Congress policy of being lukewarm towards illegal immigration of people from Bangladesh and the changes in the demography caused by Muslim infiltrators. It is not Assam alone which is faced with the problem of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Even distant Bangalore is faced with it, though to a smaller extent.
After the BJP’s defeat in the Delhi and Bihar Assembly elections last year, some analysts had said that it was the end of the Narendra Modi- Amit Shah magic. It had made the Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar imagine that he could become the prime minister in future. Today, it is the turn of both Mamata Banerjee and J Jayalalithaa to nurse such an ambition, buoyed by their victories.
The Congress has never been able to regain its position as the ruling party in Tamil Nadu since 1967 when the party led by M Bhaktavatsalam lost to the DMK. I can recall what that last Congress Chief Minister had bemoaned at that time “A cancer has spread in Tamil Nadu. God save the people”. Ironically it is that cancer, either the AIADMK or the DMK which has given life to the Congress in Tamil Nadu. The clear loser this time is the Congress which has lost two State governments led by two of its veterans, Tarun Gogoi in Assam and Oomen Chandy in Kerala.
Despite being poles apart ideologically, CPM didn’t shy away to ally with Congress to ensure the defeat of Mamata. But the politically enlightened people of Bengal jettisoned the unholy Congress-CPM alliance. The election result is a personal reverse for the Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi who was being projected as a prime ministerial candidate. I was a witness to a sorry spectacle on TV visuals. The former West Bengal chief minister and CPI-M veteran, Buddhadev Bhattacharya was deferential towards the Congress heir apparent, at an election meeting. No wonder the Congress has outdone the CPI-M by winning more number of seats.
No doubt the BJP could have done better in both West Bengal and Kerala. Technically, it is not for the first time the Party has entered the Bengal Assembly. In its earlier Avatar as the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, the BJP had won a seat in the Bengal Assembly through its candidate Haripada Bharati (a school teacher) in 1967. But it should not be forgotten that this time, the BJP fought the West Bengal Assembly election on its own. The BJP can build up on its entry into the Bengal legislature and capitalise on the fact that the Trinamool Congress is a one woman party heavily dependent on the image, caprices and tantrums of Mamata Banerjee. Both the Congress and the Left Front are clearly on the decline.
Similar is the case of both the Dravidian parties of Tamil Nadu which have nothing much to offer than the charisma, hauteur and corruption of Jayalalithaa and M Karunanidhi. The next AIADMK Government of Tamil Nadu is already being haunted by what the Supreme Court will decide on the disproportionate assets case against Jayalalithaa. The Karnataka Government has rightly gone on appeal against her acquittal by the High Court of Karnataka. It is unfortunate that corruption was not an issue in the Tamil Nadu elections and both the Dravidian parties are adept at it. Once again, the freebees and soaps seem to have dominated the electoral politics of Tamil Nadu.
Though the BJP will have only one member in the next Kerala Assembly, it should capitalise on the godsend to expose both the LDF and the Congress led alliance. The Kerala vote is a clear verdict against the corruption indulged in by the Congress Government. Kerala is a State where the RSS has grown but not the BJP. The Party will have to gain greater influence to be considered as an alternative to the two political fronts. The Hindus of Kerala have for long been taken for granted by the two Fronts which have compromised with communal parties representing the Muslims and the Christians. The RSS in the State might have to brace itself to face violence from the Marxist cadres who have a lost history of using muscle power.
Of course, as Amit Shah rightly observed, the categorical defeat of Congress in Assam and Kerala is two steps forward, giving impetus to the 'Congress-mukht Bharat' that will have a tremendous national impact as it is aimed at the total annihilation of corruption and dynasty politics in Bharat. This election results have also kept the congress at the bay in the other two states where the party forged alliance with CPM and DMK to defeat Mamata and Jayalalithaa respectively. As Congress has been cornering Jayalalithaa and Mamata by allying with their enemies, both the parties are likely to offer issue based support to BJP.
Though BJP has sizable seats in Assam, it may not immediately result in increasing its tally in Rajya Sabha as the party has to wait until 2019 to fill the vacancies from the state. Meanwhile, Jayalithaa’s AIADMK would be able to increase its number in the Upper House by next month. Similarly, the election results in West Bengal and Kerala are also not going to make an impact in the Rajya Sabha in the near future. With the recent election results, the BJP has emerged as the real national party with its presence even in the regions where so far it has been considered as a political pariah. The victory came as a major morale booster for the NDA as the only alliance with pan Indian support, and of course for the rank and file of BJP— the only national party in the country, that is gearing up for the forthcoming Punjab, UP and Uttarakhand elections and as a major setback for India’s grand old party which suffers a total extinction.
(The writer is a senior journalist)