Indians, like citizens of many countries, are excited about the ‘Jasmine Revolution’ which has erupted in the Arab countries and countries in North Africa. The people in countries like Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Baharin, Yemen etc. have come to the street to protest against the autocratic regime in their countries which have set examples of poor governance. People here have started questions like, “Doesn’t India need a Jasmine revolution? After all these scams, inflation, price rise, goof ups in external affairs etc. we badly need a change. We must have our own Jasmine Revolution against this governance deficit”.
While thousands of people hitting the street protesting against the government sounds exciting, but to be honest, India doesn’t need it. It is simply because there is no autocratic system ruling us. Whichever party (coalition to be exact as much has been blamed upon coalitions and its dharma these days) assumes power in India is chosen through a definite democratic process. There are enough checks available in Indian system to regulate the government’s activity. Independent bodies audits government’s conduct. Judiciary raps a government for its misdeeds. Opposition parties try to formulate the public opinion against the misdeeds of the party in power (may be for their own political gain). Media (with question marks over its neutrality) in many cases keeps up the public pressure on the governments. If the government still remain involved in anti-people activities, the people use their ‘Ramvaan‘ and vote out them in the next election. This wasn’t the case in the countries where Jasmine Revolution erupted. As we have these systems in place in our country, we don’t need any Jasmine revolution.
What we can consider is having a ‘Lotus Revolution’. The current regime at the center under the leadership of the Congress party doesn’t instill the confidence that it can rule the country anymore. The regulatory authorities mentioned above applied their muscles to force the UPA to change its road that is taking the country and the Aam Admy to Ravan Rajya. Days after days, we are angered with news of scams and how the powerful people inside the government guided the scamsters with their leadership. The blood boils when some other friends of the scamsters support the activity in full public view. As the year of scams 2010 ended, everyone in this country had hoped that the new year would be a different one. Highly wished wish remained a wish and the new year was no better. With ministers reportedly involved in series of scams, one would expect the top leaders take action against them and show the sign of confidence to the people. But neither the PM nor the UPA chief Sonia Gandhi seemed to be taking any action against the culprits. The PM looked hapless as ever; difference this time was that his pathetic condition was screaming more loudly than ever. Madamji either didn’t or couldn’t want to control her children. The country wanted to see her as a ‘Tiger Mom’ but she couldn’t get into that role nor the ‘charming prince’ could be the ‘tiger cub’.
If scams weren’t enough, the pathetic leadership got us into a serious inflationary condition in which price rise and inflation is justified saying these conditions will stay along with India’s growth. What a handicapped ‘Bharat Nirman’ is being done! The economist PM, the planning commission chief Montek Singh’s deadlines for reducing inflations passed silently as the prices remained high. So what’s the way to rein this unruly government?
After all the regulations imposed by the externally regulatory forces, the only option left is the flexing muscles by the people i.e. to vote the government out of the power. But there is one major problem in pursuing this option. Voting out Congress means choosing BJP and its coalition. That is what I call the ‘Lotus Revolution’. For people join this Lotus Revolution, the BJP has to be strong enough. People must believe that BJP is THE alternative to the current government which can give the country the good governance.
Road to 2014 for BJP/ The Lotus Revolution:
The BJP must brand itself as the alternative to the Congress in the next 3 years. It must get out of its nonsensical approach to issues. It must understand how people vote. Many political analysts and BJP leaders say that BJP lost elections in 2004 and 2009 because of India Shining slogan and attacking manmohan Singh personally respectively. Does the result of a national election depend on such small events during election campaigns?
People judge parties on their performances in the past five years. Their is a certain trend to explain how the people decide whom they vote. There can be a theory that precisely explains how a certain party is chosen and the others are not. When people feel extremely for or against a particular party, they vote in a definite way. If the governance is bad, then the govt. turns demon in the eyes of the common men and they vote with a national agenda in mind. When people faced Indira Gandhi’s emergency, whole India voted against her and her party lost even in traditional congress bastions. People chose the alternative which was the Janata Party then. When Janata Party couldn’t fare well as per people’s expectations and equaled their previous regimes in the level of misrule, people voted them out too and the alternative, Congress, was chosen. It was not the case of that period only. Later in nineties when doubts raised in minds of Indians about Rajiv Gandhi thanks to his flip flops in Shah Bano case and later opening Ayodhya locks, people perceived himself as a politician who can play with religious sentiments as per his requirement of votes. He was voted out and Congress was made week by the people. As there was no clear alternative, it only made BJP slightly stronger. He was the same Rajiv who rode the sympathy to the PM’s kursi few years earlier. People felt strongly sympathetic about him after Indira Gandhi’s assassination and voted according to the theory. On the other hand, when a government gives satisfactory governance, people vote differently without any national agenda. They vote according to their local needs and demands. In LokSabha elections, the voter thinks about the party’s promises for his state/area and vote accordingly. In such cases, lack of alternatives means people choose to continue with the same regime. Immediately after the Independence, due to lack of alternatives and people’s low aspirations from the govt.s, Congress continued to rule the country.
BJP needs to understand its failures and this theory explains it all. In 2004, the governance was satisfactory. If closely checked, govt. was perceived to be pro-urban if not anti-rural. With India entering the high tech age (more due to demand of the world), an imaginary divide grew between the rural and urban areas. BJP buoyed by its popularity among the middle class urban voters couldn’t see it. In the mean time Congress under Sonia Gandhi’s leadership strengthened its rural base. Sonia was smart as she was aware that the largest voter base still lives in the rural Bharat. That is why Rahul Gandhi often try to invoke that Bharat-India divide even now. As the voters could have gone any way in 2004, they chose congress as they felt it to be nearer to them. In 2009, again the governance was satisfactory. The voter could have tilted any way but Congress ensured the rural voters stays with it thanks to schemes like NREGS and farmers’ loan waiver. While BJP, still unable to see its deficiencies, kept on making its urban class image stronger. It’s extreme Hindutva had made it unpopular among many sections in the society.
For this ‘Lotus Revolution’ to take place, BJP needs to project itself as a national alternative of the Congress. It should be near to the rural voters as nearer as it aspires to be to the urban voters. This rural+urban vote base is a sure win strategy. BJP can find the examples in its own ranks. Narendra Modi, arguably BJP’s most popular icon, is often branded as pro-industry CM something the urban voters like. That doesn’t make him alienated to his rural voters. In fact, he has been successful in developing infrastructure in the rural areas of his state, Gujarat. He has made the Public Distribution System of the system fault free. Broadband connectivity of villages, electrification of almost all villages in the state, improving the agricultural infrastructures are some of the very popular and positive steps that Modi’s govt. has taken to win the hearts of the rural mass. People feel connected with the administration as their CM hears public grievances directly. No wonder, Modi is in his 10th year of power in the state.
BJP’s other successful CMs’ case is more or less the same. Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Madhya Pradesh has more or less adopted the Modi model and elections after elections his govt. continues to be in power. Raman Singh too has re-written the growth story of Chattishgarh and also remains connected to the poor rural class. I have heard that Raman Singh, a doctor, continues to run his clinic to see patients on his free days for free of cost.
BJP must take note of these examples and plan its strategy accordingly. The only way to the power in New Delhi is by winning the Indian Vote bank (and not any specific religion, caste, region or income group’s votes) which is quite easy considering the anger among the general public. Presently, the ammunitions in the hand of BJP is more due to the Govt.’s inactivity than the opposition’s activity. It must get its acts together and start its preparations for the ‘Lotus Revolution’ in the 2014 from NOW.
Can BJP make Vajpeyee’s lines “Andhera Hatega. Suraj Nikalega. Kamal Khilega” true?