[《Rajasthan, the virtual laboratory of a virulent, hard Hindutva, which
witnessed the lynching of Pehlu Khan in April 2017 and the recent silent
strategic BJP support for its surrogate the Karni Sena, has exposed the
limitations of the BJP’s long polarisation drive. If assembly elections
were held in Rajasthan today, going by the vote share of yesterday’s
results, the Congress is likely to sweep the 200-seat Vidhan Sabha.
The diminishing returns from polarisation will worry Modi and Shah, who
have built their entire politics around it, covered with a thin veneer of
development meant to convince the fence- sitters.
While analysts remain in denial, the anointment of Adityanath as Uttar
Pradesh chief minister was a clear pointer to Modi and Shah upping the
polarisation policy. The issues that Adityanath, who has since his
appointment emerged as a pan-Indian Hindutva icon, has chosen are clearly
all about communalism. Consider “love jihad“, “anti-Romeo squads” or the
recent events in Kasganj where an ugly communal incident occurred and one
person died, and the picture takes on a sharp focus.》]


https://thewire.in/220242/modi-shah-bjp-by-poll-loss/

The Sheen Around Modi Is Quickly Fading

BY SWATI CHATURVEDI ON 02/02/2018

The BJP’s bypoll defeat in Rajasthan and West Bengal will likely be a big
cause of concern for the Modi-Shah duo.

Congress workers celebrate with colours in Bikaner after the party’s win in
the Mandalgarh assembly and Ajmer and Alwar parliamentary constituencies on
Thursday. Credit: PTI

In 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) under their declared prime
ministerial candidate Narendra Modi got 73 seats in Uttar Pradesh along
with ally Apna Dal, 25 out of 25 seats in Rajasthan and 26 out of 26 seats
in Gujarat. These sweeping wins added to Modi’s “56-inch” swagger and
enabled him and his shadow Amit Shah, whom he anointed BJP president, to
turn the BJP into a two-man party and his cabinet into virtual cardboard
cutouts.

The Rajasthan bypoll results, where the Congress managed to wrest two Lok
Sabha seats and an assembly seat from the BJP, has been a rude wake-up call
and reality check for the Modi-Shah duo. Sachin Pilot, Congress chief in
Rajasthan, who told me that “I will be bringing my two MPs for an
introduction to parliament today”, was thrilled, saying “these results are
a tectonic shift in North Indian politics”.

For once, the hyperbole was justified, as the Modi magic that had India in
its thrall appears to be waning. Currently, the hottest buzz in parliament
is early elections and the smart money is on the duo trying to defeat
anti-incumbency and take the divided opposition by shock by going in for
early general elections.

Rajasthan, the virtual laboratory of a virulent, hard Hindutva, which
witnessed the lynching of Pehlu Khan in April 2017 and the recent silent
strategic BJP support for its surrogate the Karni Sena, has exposed the
limitations of the BJP’s long polarisation drive. If assembly elections
were held in Rajasthan today, going by the vote share of yesterday’s
results, the Congress is likely to sweep the 200-seat Vidhan Sabha.

The diminishing returns from polarisation will worry Modi and Shah, who
have built their entire politics around it, covered with a thin veneer of
development meant to convince the fence- sitters.

While analysts remain in denial, the anointment of Adityanath as Uttar
Pradesh chief minister was a clear pointer to Modi and Shah upping the
polarisation policy. The issues that Adityanath, who has since his
appointment emerged as a pan-Indian Hindutva icon, has chosen are clearly
all about communalism. Consider “love jihad“, “anti-Romeo squads” or the
recent events in Kasganj where an ugly communal incident occurred and one
person died, and the picture takes on a sharp focus.

Also read: BJP Suffers a Big Jolt in Bypolls as Congress Wins in Rajasthan,
TMC in West Bengal
This also exposes the fundamental way that the BJP remains a party of the
Hindi heartland, despite the tall talk of expansion in the south and the
east. When Adityanath goes to campaign in Karnataka and cites the UP model
of development, it has a surreal feel to it.

Senior BJP leaders say that unless the BJP can repeat its stupendous
performance in north and central India – a very tall order, with broken
promises of “achhe din” (now a banned phrase in the party) – it has no hope
of even securing a simple majority.

Shah had made an art of getting defectors from every party and in Bengal
had challenged chief minister Mamta Banerjee by breaking away Mukul Roy,
who was facing allegations of corruption. The margin of 4.74 lakh votes
that the Trinamool Congress won in the Uluberia seat ought to make Shah
pause and reflect over the BJP’s expansion plan in Bengal. Similarly, in
Maharashtra, Shah forgot the BJP’s stated anti-corruption crusade and got
the Congress and Shiv Sena turncoat Narayan Rane, who is again accused of
serious corruption charges, over to the BJP. Now, Rane makes daily threats,
saying his patience is over, while there is huge resistance to such lateral
entrants from within the BJP.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Credit: PTI
As unkept promises pile up, the development and “good governance” claims of
Prime Minister Narendra Modi stand exposed. Credit: PTI

In Gujarat, where the BJP barely squeezed through with 99 seats after an
all-out campaign by Modi based on him symbolising “Gujarati asmita”
(Gujarat pride), helped along with with some intemperate statements by
expelled Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar which were twisted by Modi, the
defectors that Shah had got from the Congress all lost.

As the unkept promises pile up, the development and “good governance”
claims of Modi stand exposed as empty slogans. The other plank that brought
Modi to power – corruption – sees no action, and Shah’s description of
“jumla” seems to be apt. The collapse of the 2G scam case in court and zero
progress in any action against Robert Vadra, who was called “damaadji” by
Modi on the campaign trial with a promise to put him in jail within 100
days of assuming office, are cases in point. Four years have passed and
Vadra is still a free man. The assisted “escapes” of Vijay Mallya, Lalit
Modi and arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari have certainly dented the
anti-corruption crusader image projected by Modi. Says a senior BJP leader,
“The 2G case and its outcome will now be a campaign issue against the BJP
in the next elections.”

Also read: Is Modi’s New India Viable for the Real India?
The mystery around the Rafale deal and its offsets, the conflicts of
interests and allegations of crony corruption have seriously compromised
the government’s image. Despite all its attempts, the government is unable
to put a lid on the mysterious death of Judge B.H. Loya, who was hearing
the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case that had Shah as an accused.

The first ones to sense the change of mood are the allies of the NDA
government, who have been repeatedly humiliated and shown their place by
Shah. The Shiv Sena has already said it has broken its two-decade “yuti“
(alliance) with the BJP and will go it alone in the next elections in
Maharashtra and the Centre. Post the recent by-election results, Andhra
Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu of the Telugu Desam Party has
also expressed his disappointment with the Budget and said he wanted to say
“namaskar” (farewell) to the BJP.

In Odisha, Shah’s aggressive moves and attempts to break the Biju Janata
Dal with the help of a networked billionaire MP, now suspended, has not
come to any fruition and has ensured that Navin Patnaik, the chief
minister, is now looking at the opposition as an ally.

Sources say even Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who is subjected to
daily pin-pricks by Shah and Modi and who nearly had a billion-dollar
General Motors project cancelled in Bihar by the Centre, is now regretting
that he jumped ship. One of his MPs says, “Nitishji was treated as a Bihari
dulah (bridegroom) by the UPA, he could always count on Sonia Gandhi
controlling Lalu Prasad Yadav and his sons; now Shah does not even treat
him as a baarati (guest) and with Lalu going to jail, he is really
regretting jumping ship.”

So, what does this all add up to? Early elections and more polarisation, as
even the pretence of development is given up, and more opposition from
within the Sangh to Modi and Shah.

If the opposition can script an alternative India story for the voter, it
is certainly game on for the general elections, which are now wide open.

Swati Chaturvedi is a Delhi-based journalist.

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Peace Is Doable

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