Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are realising how bitter sweets can be.
They would accept now what someone said long ago – those who take a ‘Delhi ka Laddoo’ (Delhi’s favourite sweetmeat) and those who don’t, both live to regret it.
Delhi as the microcosm of India has taught Modi-Shah combine and the BJP as a whole, a lesson they should never forget. It will be smart of them to treat it as a wake-up call.
After Delhi, the BJP and RSS should stop talking of ‘Hindu Rastra’ (Hindu state) and avoid raising the bogey of infiltration from Bangladesh, because that just does not work anywhere in the country.
As my good friend Sekhar Gupta said on NDTV just now, in 2014 the Indian voter did not vote for BJP’s ‘core ideology’ of Hindutva. That was a vote for development, a reflection of aspirations. Modi himself kept the Ram Mandir at the fag end of the BJP election manifesto.
When RSS raises the bogey of infiltration or Hindu Rastra, it invariably provokes a furious reaction, that harms the BJP. The party may retain its core voters when it talks of Hindutva, but it fails to draw those who would vote for good governance, as happened for Modi.
Tens of thousands of poor Delhiites (please note mostly Hindus) did that on February 7th. They rejected the bogey of Bangladesh infiltration as nonsense and voted with their feet against the BJP, bringing its tally to single digits. They voted against demonstrative Hindutva. They did not approve of the ‘Ghar Wapsi’ (mass conversions) or of the attacks on Churches.
If there are poor migrants from Bangladesh working as wage labourers in India (as is most often the case), it is because the local economy and the people need them. They are not seen as a threat but as a people who help India’s prosperity. As a Hindu-CSDS survey revealed some time ago, Indians no longer treat Bangladeshis as they would treat Pakistanis – 48 percent of those covered by the survey said Bangladesh was the country they trusted most, 2 percentage points ahead of traditional friend Russia.
Only in Assam, perhaps, would the infiltration rhetoric get the BJP votes, because that is one state where the migrant is shamelessly used for much needed labour and then subjected to hypocritical upper caste derision.
In Delhi, the BJP raked up the infiltration bogey, but failed to cash in on it. They also failed to get any mileage from its campaign around a higher Muslim population growth rate revealed by recent Census data.
Aam Admi Party (AAP)’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal ridiculed the BJP and the Hindutva votaries who were suggesting Hindu families must have four to five children to match the Muslim growth.
“These fools ask you to have four children, have five children, will they feed them when you have them,” is the simple and very effective question Kejriwal raised to explode the Hindutva propoganda balloon.
The AAP’s 53 percent share of popular votes against BJP’s 33 percent also indicates that the saffrons have lost the faith of the middle-class as much as the poor under-class, who come to Delhi from all over India. It is a true microcosm of India and the BJP is aware of the impact of this defeat on a few state polls in the near future – Bihar being the most important of them all. So all that BJP leaders are now doing is promising all cooperation to Kejriwal in building a world class city in Delhi.
The message is loud and clear – Modi should not misread the 2014 Lok sabha verdict, because it was one of inclusive development and not for a Hindutva agenda.
The poor of Delhi, mostly Hindus, have reminded Modi and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat that India will not accept their divisive politics of splitting men and women on the basis of religion. They are only interested in inclusive development and not in big posturing.
India has no patience for the Hindutva medievalism that sections of the BJP have sought to promote in the stupid belief that India finally has a Hindu government and is ready to become a Hindu Rastra as Bhagwat said a day before the Delhi poll results.
Within 8 months of a sweeping poll victory in the national elections, the BJP and RSS looked hopelessly out of sync with voters in Delhi, where the national government is based.
BJP “karyakartas” (functionaries) used everything in Delhi – money, liquor, promises, leaders (120 MPs were mobilised) – but the people went with Kejriwal, who had asked the poor to take money from whoever offered them but vote only for the AAP.
The BJP also got thrashed because it is being increasingly seen as the party of the rich and the big corporates who paid for their huge election expenses – a party of the Adanis and the Ambanis, and not of the under-class.
The success of Kejriwal is a slap on the face of not only Modi and Rahul Gandhi, but also the Prakash Karats and Sitaram Yechurys of CPI(M) and the worthless Left of this sub-continent, not merely India.
Kejriwal is clearly an under-class and middle-class messiah, who demonstrates “people’s power” as none else has in India.
It shows that under-class politics is still a winning proposition, but it needs charismatic, well-meaning personalities to ensure mobilisation and electoral victory, not phoney JNU Marxists who are as much out of sync with the poor and marginalised in India, as the bourgeoisie politicians like Modi, who love their 10 lakh rupee suits and those who present it to them.
Alexander had told his general Selecus about what a mystery India was.
Indians themselves get to discover that so often. The Kejriwal landslide was one such occasion that not only proved the tremendous institutional strength of Indian democracy, but also the belief of its people in their own destiny as a plural nation held together by a civilisation, and not by divisive forces of religion or caste.
Delhi voters have given BJP a wake up call. Indian voters will admire Modi if he takes on Pakistan strongly on all issues like terrorism, but they will not tolerate him if he tries to convert India into another Pakistan.
Syed Bashir is a bdnews24.com columnist.