Unofficial audit of BJP ruled states disappointing; heres more
Under the charismatic leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Bharatiya Janata Party has made spectacular political expansion since its victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections exercising power not only in New Delhi but also in 14 states directly and in five in alliance.
At the beginning of 2018, the BJP is confident of adding another few by the time the present year exits as there are going to be assembly elections in eight states in next 12 months. While the BJP may or may not to come to power in states where it is yet to open an account, it is time that an audit was done of the work and achievements and BJP ruled states.
Credibility in popular perception, governance, economic growth, development, social peace, communal harmony, values, principles and popularity of leaders of a political party are some of the relevant criterion for making assessing the performance of any government.
There are broadly four categories of the BJP ruled states. One where, the BJP has come to power on its own for the first time after Modi assumed charge at the Centre like Haryana, Maharashtra. Second category is of those states where the BJP has been in and out of power like in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, UP. In the third category, there are states where the BJP is enjoying power in alliance with other parties like Punjab, Bihar, Nagaland and others. Then in the last category, there are states where the party has not been successful like that of Kerala, Tamil Nadu,and West Bengal etc.
Broadly, audited on the defined and accepted parameters, the BJP-ruled states do not come out with flying colours with none of them evoking admiration or emerging as role model for others to follow.
The BJP came to power in Maharashtra and Haryana on its own accord within few months of the Modi’s triumph in the Lok Sabha elections raising popular expectations of a government that would be different to the previous Congress governments.
In Maharashtra where the saffron party had contested election in alliance with its traditional electoral partner- the Shiv Sena, the BJP emerged as the single largest party and Devendra Phadnavis became the chief minister on 31 October 2014. Performance of the state government in last three years does not evoke much confidence as the state has faced major social and agrarian unrest. Popular enthusiasm with which the BJP had come to power has considerably waned.
In Haryana,record of accomplishment of three years of power of the BJP government of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, who is the personal choice of the Prime Minister, has been disappointing as the state has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. The state is being dubbed as the rape capital of the country. The state has the highest rate of incidents ofgang rapes per lakh women in the country, as per the National Crime Record Bureau report.
In the very first year, the Khattar government miserably failed to handle a Jat agitation that was demanding reservations in government jobs. The state has been facing communal tensions as cow vigilante groups have been targeting Muslims. Social peace is also in jeopardy. Even growth in social as well as economic fields has slowed down.
Similarly, Chief Minister Raghubar Das’s government in Jharkhand that assumed power on 28 December 2014 has not evoked much appreciation from neutral observers. The state, having rich mineral wealth and a large tribal population, has not been able to catch the imagination of people.
Even in states, where the BJP has been in power for over a decade or more, challenges are emerging and the party has begun to raise Hinduatva issues like those that it was seen in the recently held Gujarat assembly election where it faced a tough battle and it barely scrapped through to remain in power.
The party is going to face serious electoral challenge this year in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan where anti-incumbency is gaining ground. Inability of the state governments to address serious agrarian crisis has eroded much of the people’s confidence in their respective governments.
The BJP has always been taking a moral high ground on issue of corruption in public life but the claim exposes itself in the face of cases of corruption in majority of state government where the party has been in power for over a decade like in MP, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Goa.
The first ever BJP government in a state came in Rajasthan on 9 March 1990 when Bhairon Singh Shekhawat became the chief minister of the state. In 1980 when the BJP was launched, there have been 41 BJP leaders who have held the chairs of chief minister that includes 14 incumbent ones.
The saffron party began its political journey with claims of being different from the others, standing on high moral ground and an alternative to the Congress and the other left of the center parties. Exposure to power in several states as well as at the Centre in the last 27 years has brought the BJP to the level of the rest of the parties.
Some of the prominent factors of the winning of state assembly elections are not the performance of state governments but its Hinduatva agenda primarily based on anti-Muslim component. Modi’s charisma, the BJP’s organizational strength, a well- oiled electoral machinery, vast financial resources and use of administrative machinery to pin down its rivals are some other reasons of the BJP success in state elections.
The BJP has been highly successful in keeping the index of the opposition unity weak. In a scenario whereopponents are dividedand fighting among them, the BJP with a committed vote bank gains an upper hand over its rivals in multi-cornered contests.
In the backdrop of growing people’s disillusionment with the tall promises made by the BJP leaders in general and the Prime Minister in particular, electoral battles in coming months are not going to be a cakewalk for the saffron forces. >
Dr. Satish Misra is a Veteran Journalist & Research Associate with Observer Research Foundation.