Resentment against ruling dispensation

Amulya Ganguli

Politics, like nature, abhors vacuum. Although the BJP may feel relieved because of the absence of a credible opposition, it is perhaps realizing that this vacant space is being filled by forces other than political parties.
These include, for one, the younger generation, represented in the main by students. For another, the ordinary people unhappy over the failure of focused governance resulting in the deaths of scores of children in hospitals and a series of railway accidents. For a third, not only is the economic downturn now an acknowledged fact, it is also clear that behind the slowdown is the prime minister’s much acclaimed demonetization gamble which has badly misfired.
Taken together, these factors have taken much of the sheen off the BJP’s famous victories at the national level in 2014 and in Uttar Pradesh this year. As a result, instead of being seen as being capable of easy success in the next general election, the possibility of the party struggling to get past the winning post can no longer be discounted.
An indication as to how the BJP will fare two years hence will be available in the forthcoming state assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat this year and in Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Tripura in 2018.
There will also be elections in Mizoram, Meghalaya and Nagaland, but their impact on the national scene will be less than the fallout of the results in the other states.
Given the economic slump, few will now predict a cakewalk for the BJP in the states where it is in power while its chances of success in Karnataka and Tripura can be considered minimal
But it isn’t only the condition of the economy which is likely to hurt the party. It may also be undone by the anti-incumbency factor in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
The BJP’s solace is that its opponent in these states, viz. the Congress, is relatively weak and disorganized, especially in Chhattisgarh. But the votes are sometimes cast against the ruling party even if it faces a feeble challenge. This is all the more so if there is a strong sentiment against the party in power.
Admittedly, this isn’t the case in the three BJP-ruled states. Even then, few of its supporters will claim that the party is on a strong wicket, especially in Rajasthan where neither women nor the Muslims appear to be safe, notwithstanding the 7 11 p.m. all-women police patrols in Jaipur focussing on 200 “harassment” sites.
The Pink City has been rated as one of the unsafest metropolises for women in the country, ranking third among those with registered rape cases.
Madhya Pradesh is worse, for the National Crime Records Bureau noted in its report of 2014 that the highest number of rapes – 5,076 –took place in the state. A survey on “women at workplace” conducted by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in 2016 placed Madhya Pradesh at the 12th place among the states and union territories where safety was concerned.
As for Muslims, the clean chit given to the killers of Pehlu Khan, who was transporting cattle through Alwar in Rajasthan, showed that the minorities cannot expect justice from a saffronized administration.
If Chhattisgarh is infamous for the Maoist insurgency, Madhya Pradesh is known for the so-called Vyapam scam, which led to the Supreme Court cancelling earlier this year the degrees of more than600 doctors on the grounds that their admissions to the MBBS courses were obtained through “mass fraud”.
There have also been about 50 mysterious deaths linked to Vyapam. The word is the Hindi acronym for Vyavsayik Pariksha Mandal or an “autonomous” professional examination board, which is responsible for recruitments and admissions in the state.
But even more than the questions of scams and women’s safety, what will probably worry the BJP the most is the outcome of some of the recent student union elections which have shown that the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the party’s student wing, has been losing ground.
Its defeat in the traditionally Leftist Jawaharlal Nehru University may have been expected and also in Hyderabad University in view of the suicide of the bright Dalit scholar, Rohith Vemula, in2016 following a clash between a Dalit students organization, with which the Vemula was associated, and the ABVP.
But what must have been unsettling for the ABVP is its loss of the top two posts to the National Students Union of India (NSUI), the Congress’s student wing, in Delhi University where it had held the upper hand in the last two years.
The ABVP also suffered setbacks in the Jaipur, Punjab and Guwahati student union elections with the loss in the north-eastern state being ascribed to the resentment caused among the local people by the BJP-led state government’s decision to name several new colleges after Deen Dayal Upadhyay, the party’s new icon.
Clearly, all is not well for the saffron brotherhood, which will face its moment of truth in the forthcoming state assembly elections. (IPA)

Saturday, 7 October, 2017