Election 2019: A dekho
By Dr. R.K.Nimai
The result of the 2019 Election was way off the forecast made by various pundits months in advance, but the exits poll fairly indicate the way the people had voted. Forecasting an election results is always difficult because of the very large variables and an incident may sway the voting pattern and even in the exit poll, the sample are way too small to have a reliable prediction.
In Manipur, almost all analysts predicted a BJP win in the Inner seat and NFP in the Outer seat. The result also confirms the prediction but the surprise package is the very strong competition from the INC in the Inner seat. Many felt that CPI will be the number two but it fell on the wayside and the INC gave a very strong challenge till the end, giving a victory margin of less than 18,000 to the BJP. This is as the statement of the CPI candidate the outcome of muscle and money power. INC could have won if they had done better in the home constituency of the candidate in particular and in Bishnupur district in general, the overall lead in the district was less than 5,000 votes. BJP did exceedingly well in Heingang, Andro and Thongju, while the INC did well in the three Assembly segment of Thoubal. The BJP led in 16 segments, INC in 13 and CPI in 3. The contesting of non serious candidates, who in their heart of hearts knew they can never win the election, makes the Indian election likening to a farce. There must be a law to debar those who fail to receive a certain percentage from contesting future elections. Or those who get less than NOTA!
In the Outer seat, the die is cast from the day the purported request from the BJP candidate for all Kuki to vote for him surfaced in the social media. Despite his denial, as there was no criminal case registered by him, none believed his denial. BJP’s nomination of a Kuki is a masterstroke in the sense that it made the INC with no alternative but to nominate a Naga. If BJP nominated a Naga, the INC would nominate a Kuki and then there will be a tough fight. BJP’s nomination ensured an NPF win.
In the National arena, the BJP due to its strong financial backing made the agenda for the election, with the other parties following. This time there is no mention about corruption, development, Ram mandir, etc but the emphasis is on national security. Despite spending a large proportion of its limited resources on NYAY, the INC failed to respond to the BJP publicity juggernaut. Even though, Rahul Gandhi after the election criticises some of his party’s senior leaders that they put their scions before the party; there is no denying the fact that his leadership will be questioned. The poor showing in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh where they did very well in 2018 indicate its inability to consolidate their votes. BJP on the other hand, put a good showing in the NE, Odisha and West Bengal. The only state they find it difficult to do well is Kerala and a study will be required to find out the reasons- is it due to high literacy rate, traditional secular fabric, etc. Poor showing of INC in Bihar, and UP is always predicted but they were supposed to do well in Maharashtra which was only a pipe dream.
INC is still not able to use the social media to its advantage during election while the BJP is past master in this area. And with a large percentage of the young electorate very savvy with this media, the reach is excellent leading to conversion to votes. The importance of social media needs no further emphasis. It stoked the flame during the Arab Spring uprising in 2011 and that is the reason why even in Manipur any problem lead to suspension of internet for some time. Not only the INC but all parties need to adopt this medium as a medium to propagate their idea if they desire to perform well. Failure to utilise this medium makes the party look like a dinosaur in the 21st Century.
Rahul Gandhi to be fair to him interacted with youth on quite a number of occasions while Narendra Modi refused to interact even with the media, except on a one to one basis with selected journalist. During his five years a PM he did not hold a single press conference. He only speaks but never listens; his Man ka Baat is purely a one way traffic and it is nothing but propaganda. He used teleprompter even in his election campaign leading many to believe that his knowledge and confidence in his knowledge is limited and that he is a media created demigod. The media despite his disastrous economic policies are soft towards him, leading to many questioning the role of the media, the fourth pillar of democracy. Besides, many believed that the ECI was partial to the PM and the President of the BJP regarding the penalty for violation of MCC. No action was taken for using the armed force and towards the announcement of the successful launch of missile targeting low orbit satellite, etc while canvassing. The biggest loser in this 2019 general election is not any party but the ECI. Their credibility which had taken a long time to build from the time of TN Seshan had gone for a spin.
Narendra Modi was in fact lucky that the Phulwama incident happened leading to the surgical strike at Balakot; thus he was made to come out as a leader who can take strong decision to defend the country. His claim that he advised the top brass of the IAF that since there is cloud cover the Pakistani radar will not see the IAF craft for bombing Balakot makes one wonder on his knowledge to lead the country. His temerity to say this to the nation also makes one wonder about his arrogance of his ignorance; sincerely believing what he says is right. This disease was also suffered by Indira Gandhi prior to the emergency. Be that it may be, he was returned with a thumping majority and will be ruling the country for the next five years. One concern is whether he will become more authoritarian due to the massive support this time.
For a country it is always good to have a strong government and with the numbers of MP he can provide a stable government. However, there is a niggling thought as to whether we will continue to get shocks like the demonetisation, etc from where the country took time to recover. CAB will put pressure in the NER, despite the fact that those who lead in opposing this Bill kept mum during the election; in an effort to show that they are politically neutral which helped the BJP. Now who will believe and follow them when the Bill is considered. Himanta Biswa Sarma openly says that since the people voted for the BJP they are agreeable to the CAB which will be passed. In the Outer seat, majority of the people did not support the Bill and did not vote for the BJP. NPF have opposed the Bill. Even in the Inner seat, only 35% support the ruling party indicating that 65% opposes the Bill as all other candidates opposes the Bill. The funny thing is that quite a few who opposes the Bill in the last agitation was working for the BJP; such contradictions! How the state government will face it, only time will tell.
The so called fissure between the BJP and NPF is likely to subside as all the posturing is for a better position. As BJP has the numbers its allies will not be able to arm-twist them. There is a belief that the posturing of NPF is to get a ministerial berth for their MP; which now is doubtful as the BJP alone has the absolute majority. The tussle between the BJP and the NPP however here may continue as the CM is under tremendous pressure from the BJP MLAs and from those who had left the INC to support them for ministerial berth. If the NPP is forced to withdraw from the government, there will be four ministerial berths which can be distributed to the INC rebels, BJP and NPF. This will be all well that ends well for the BJP. Even there is pressure for change in the leadership and this may stymie the functioning of the state government.
Many will expect that with a stable government in the centre, the state may be getting better support but there is always a doubt as the centre is also facing acute financial crunch and may not be in a position to provide support to the states. For the centre, there has to be certain amount of even handedness while dealing with the states; though states with more MPs have a better chance of getting the freebies. Another issue is the trust of the central leadership on the state leadership; which seem a bit lacking.
2019 may come out as an interesting year for Manipur, which may hit its people seriously with a less than normal monsoon and a series of agitations!
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