Saturday, March 11, 2017

State assembly election results: Is it Modi wave or anti-incumbency wave?

The huge victory of BJP in the Uttar Pradesh assembly election indicates a massive affirmation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's policy of having development as the central agenda of governance.

This is a state that is very polarized in terms of religion and caste. But the results show that BJP has had an overarching influence on people across region and caste. So it would be difficult to say that polarization has had an effect.

My guess is that people were tired of Mulayam Singh and the infighting in Samajwadi Party. Mayawati and her BSP didn't have much to offer. People chose change. BJP agenda looked good enough with less talk of religion and more emphasis on welfare of people. Modi government's performance also served as a good indication of that.

Crucial numbers in Rajya Sabha for BJP

The huge win will also mean that Modi will have enough numbers in the Rajya Sabha and his government will be able to push through crucial legislations pertaining to reforms.

BJP has done well in Uttarakhand overthrowing Congress. Manipur too is a big consolation for BJP. Obviously they were not hoping to overthrow Okram Ibobi Singh, who has been the chief minister since 2002. But BJP's success is in making a mark in a state where it had virtually negligible presence.

Gandhi family hold slipping?

The pathetic show of Congress in UP and Uttarakhand clearly indicates that India's first political family has lost its touch and hold over the masses. Rahul's Lok Sabha constituency of Amethi has gone the BJP way. He fiercely but poorly campaigned in UP. He lacked ideas, and merely made fun of what Modi was saying. He didn't have anything original and substantial to offer.

The one state where Congress has put up a good show, Punjab, it has been a victory of Amarinder Singh. And not of Sonia or Rahul. So it's a clear cue that Sonia and Rahul should give way to a non-family leadership of the party. Hopefully the party will learn the lesson at least now and make amends before the next round of state elections.

Impact of local issues

The Modi magic, if at all there is one like that, hasn't worked in two out of five states. In Punjab and Goa, BJP lost power.

While we speak of the effect of Modi, we must bear in mind that these are state assembly elections, where many local issues matter a lot. Remember, ruling parties have lost in UP, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Goa. Only in Manipur the incumbent party has retained power.

So, while we are tempted by sheer numbers, and we speak of today's big story as affirmation of Modi mantra and rejection of Gandhi family, isn't it more of an anti-incumbency wave than Modi wave?