FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
The message from the Indian voter
Updated:Mar 16, 2017
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
By Rashmi Saksena
 
 India has once again spoken emphatically. Hidden in the post state poll statistics and tabulations of percentages is a message from the aspirational voter. What is the new India seeking from its political leaders? Decoding the poll outcome gives a very clear indication of what today’s India is aspiring for.
 
It would do a world of good for the ascending Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its main political rival on the national scene, the grand old declining Indian National Congress, to heed the call from the people, read the changing mood and craft strategy as they move towards the national electoral battle in 2019. If heady success of the saffron sweep goes to the head of the BJP and it pushes an aggressive right-wing agenda it may well just axe its own feet. If the Congress refuses to take note of what the voter is telling it may ruin its own chances of revival and a comeback.
 
 It is easy to read the message from the voters. At a macro level the voter has said a big YES to development, a strong decisive leader and a big NO to caste and communal divisions. The voter of today has tried to erase the inherent fault lines of caste, sub castes and religion that have shackled him over decades. There is no political party, either at the national level or regional level, which has not exploited this to gain power. Vote bank politics has been a given at the cost of creating more fissures in society and tragically the voter in India has been easily manipulated election after election. If the just concluded poll results are any indication, the voter has had enough of it and will take no more of it. The BJP has for the first time seen the Muslim vote in its bag without which (Muslims constitute abut 18% of the 220 million population of Uttar Pradesh and their votes are crucial in some areas) it would not have able to sweep the politically influential state of Uttar Pradesh. The minorities too have given a thumbs up to development instead of being bogged down by its perception of the BJP being anti Muslims or Muslims being anti-BJP!
 
Another extremely significant take away from the polls is the high number of women who have come out to vote. According to the Election Commission, more women turned out to vote in UP, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa. Not only does this indicate the long awaited welcome development of an increased and growing participation of women in the electoral process but also that women can be game-changers.              
 
The political map of India is now heavily saffron (a colour that is perceived as sacred to the Hindu right-wing). About 63.6% of India’s territory is under BJP rule (in some cases with an ally). States of Jammu & Kashmir, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh . As much as 53.93% of India’s population is being governed by the BJP.
 
Why has the BJP swept the polls this time round? In UP, which has been the stage of high communal violence and tension over the years, the BJP handed out a heady mix of development and Hindu nationalism. This formula cut across caste barriers as well as religion. It is obvious that the BJP success has come because sections of the Dalits, the most backward in the caste pyramid, and the minorities have put their stamp on the lotus symbol of the saffron party. In an extremely significant shift the Muslims have gone with the BJP instead of their traditional favorites, the Congress and the Samajawadi Party or even their new benefactor the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) which gave 90+ tickets to Muslims over Dalits who are its core supporters. BSP leader and former UP Chief Minister Mayawati (she goes by one name) just cant imagine how it happened and accused the BJP and the Election Commission of India of tampering with the electronic voting machines which India now widely uses for its elections. The Muslims would rather now cheer for development instead of living in fear of the bogey of BJPs antagonism for them. 
 
Over 63% of women voters came out to vote in UP against 59.43% of male voters. It is obvious that they were rooting for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speedy implementation of the ujjwala (energy) scheme that has brought gas fuel to their kitchen and subsidy for building of toilets. The BJP firm stand on doing with the triple 'triple talaq (divorce) custom - much against the wishes of the conservative mullahs - is understood to have brought in the Muslim women vote.
 
Uttarakhand (won by BJP), Punjab (won by Congress), Manipur and Goa (both heading for BJP rule) have also displayed the voter’s preference for a strong leader who can deliver on the development agenda. That is why the Congress Chief Minister in Uttarakhand was voted out because he was shown up as one who was unable to provide stable governance. In Punjab the Akali and BJP alliance was discarded because the Chief Minister faced charges of nepotism and graft. Both in Goa and Manipur, the BJP is managing to cobble together a government with the help of smaller regional parties and on the promise of a decisive leadership.
 
Through the entire election campaign Modi was the face of the BJP campaign across the states. The BJP strategy was to cash in on the image of Modi as a strong leader who can take decisive action like demonetization and "surgical strikes" across the border with Pakistan. The bottom line is that the voter in India is now looking for strong leaders who can deliver on development. Everything else is secondary. As Modi himself as tweeted post results “a new India is emerging…mandate is in favour of performance and development”.     
 
(Rashmi Saksena is a veteran political analyst )
 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 

Disclaimer: South Asia Monitor does not accept responsibility for the views or ideology expressed in any article, signed or unsigned, which appears on its site. What it does accept is responsibility for giving it a chance to appear and enter the public discourse.
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
spotlight image Since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina assumed office again in Bangladesh in 2009, bilateral relations between New Delhi and Dhaka have been on a steady upward trajectory.
 
read-more
  Nearly 58 per cent of the about 600,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh are children who suffer from severe malnutrition, a UN report released said.
 
read-more
A unique and passionate gathering of acrophiles, or mountain lovers, took place in neat and picturesque Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram state in north-eastern India in September.
 
read-more
India’s foreign policy under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has attained a level of maturity which allows it to assert itself in an effective manner. This is aimed at protecting the country’s national interests in a sustained way.
 
read-more
With over 100 incidents of braid chopping reported in different parts of Kashmir, there is widespread fear and anger among the people.
 
read-more
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China's GDP expanded 6.9 percent year on year in the first three quarters of 2017, an increase of 0.2 percent above that of the corresponding period of last year.
 
read-more
As political roller coasters go, there is none as steep and unpredictable as the one shared by the United States and Iran.
 
read-more
In West Asia, the end of one war paves the way for the next. Raqqa, the Syrian capital of the self-styled Islamic State (IS), has fallen to a coalition of rebels, the Syrian Democratic Forces that is backed by the United States.
 
read-more
On “Defining Our Relationship with India for the Next Century”
 
read-more
Column-image

Title: The People Next Door -The Curious History of India-Pakistan Relations; Author: T.C.A. Raghavan; Publisher: HarperCollins ; Pages: 361; Price: Rs 699

 
Column-image

Could the North Korean nuclear issue which is giving the world an anxious time due to presence of hotheads on each side, the invasion of Iraq and its toxic fallout, and above all, the arms race in the teeming but impoverished South Asian subcon...

 
Column-image

Title: A Bonsai Tree; Author: Narendra Luther; Publisher: Niyogi Books; Pages: 227 Many books have been written on India's partition but here is a firsthand account of the horror by a migrant from what is now Pakistan, who ...

 
Column-image

As talk of war and violence -- all that Mahatma Gandhi stood against -- gains prominence across the world, a Gandhian scholar has urged that the teachings of the apostle of non-violence be taken to the classroom.

 
Column-image

Interview with Hudson Institute’s Aparna Pande, whose book From Chanakya to Modi: Evolution of India’s Foreign Policy, was released on June 17.

 
Subscribe to our newsletter
Archive