12:09 October 27, 2010
The voting dynamics of the country is slowly but surely set to change. The trend is evident from the recent civil election results in Gujarat where the BJP led by Narendra Modi emerged victorious. Historically, elections in India have been fought on vote bank and caste politics; developmental economics had a very limited role to play. This was primarily due to lack of awareness, relative backwardness as well as high decibel leaders harping upon issues that are closer to the heart but not necessarily to the wallet.
Development has been the hallmark of Narendra Modi’s victory. Besides, a massive shift in the mindset comes across from the fact that over 100 Muslim candidates contested on the BJP ticket at various levels. The BJP also managed to emerge victorious in places like Dang known for its sizeable tribal Christian population.
Outside Gujarat, Mr. Modi seems to be a rightist Hindu leader while within Gujarat even the Muslims seem to be siding with him and using his platform to win elections. He has positioned himself as an agent of change and betterment. Having travelled quite a bit in Gujarat, I can vouch for many of the claims made by the Narenda Modi government. The roads are good, infrastructure is good and industries are getting red carpet welcome instead of red tapism. Remember how the Nano moved from Singur in Bengal to Sanand in Gujarat.
The common person on the street acknowledges that development is happening and issues are being addressed thereby helping Modi gain further mileage. It will now be interesting to know what happens in Bihar elections under the leadership of Nitesh Kumar; keep in mind Bihar’s percentage growth of GDP is faster than even Gujarat.
Bihar has been logging in GDP of 10-14%; even civic life has changed dramatically. Elections this time will be fought on the development plank and results in the Bihar elections will be a precursor on people’s thought process in the time to come. It is very important for the government at the Centre to wake up; for a long time they have been basking in the glory of NREGA and I don’t think they can continue to do so for long.
Information Technology is also extremely important because thanks to the media, internet and well-connected cellphones, the common person has access to information which was earlier not easily accessible. Wherever you go in India, there is encouraging information flow; general awareness too has increased tremendously. Secondly as the economy develops, people’s aspirations also change. They are no longer happy with mere rice rationed at Rs2 kg. Apart from basic food, clothing and shelter, yeh dil maange more.
The current government has to wake up, stand up and take quick actions. Unless concrete action is taken, the government will lose credibility. In the case of the Common Wealth Games, a number of committees have been formed to investigate. Aam junta wants results of these investigations.
Back to Bihar, the elections there will also be fought on the developmental plank. To an extent, public opinion is that there is safety on the streets in Bihar now under Nitish Kumar as compared to the ‘jungle raj’ earlier. The little political brownie points will keep getting played in the media too like Nitish Kumar offering bicycles to girl students to go to school and Lalu Prasad promising motorbikes. The outcome of Bihar elections will have a bearing on the future Centre as this state accounts for 40 odd seats in Parliament and would be crucial if coalition politics comes into play.
Other CMs will also start waking up and using development as a theme. Mr. Modi is running one of the most clean elected governments in the country and two things which will matter most to the people are cleanliness as well as governance. It is pitiable that the Centre is lacking on both these accounts. Even now they talk about riots that took place in Gujarat around 10 years ago. The Congress at least should not forget that under their regime in 1984 the worst kind of genocide took place. It is a classic case of a ‘The pot calling the kettle black’. As if to justify the role of the Congress government in the riots, the honourable late Rajiv Gandhi then had said that when a giant tree falls then the earth shakes.
The other revolution that has taken place is the electronic voting machines (EVM) which has definitely improved the political process. It is common for a losing party to blame the electronic voting machines whether it was BJP which lost the Parliamentary elections or the Congress when it loses the state elections. With the Congress party crying foul in Gujarat, Modi manages to smile assuring them that the PM has said that the EVMs cannot be tampered with.
I will now wait for the election results in Bihar to see if my hypothesis is correct or remains confined to armchair thought process.