Major losses for BJP, coalitions re-emerge

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Major losses for BJP, coalitions re-emerge

Monday, 10 June 2024 | Shivaji Sarkar

Major losses for BJP, coalitions re-emerge

The recent elections in India show the BJP's struggle due to divisive talk and policies, highlighting the importance of diverse coalitions

Coalitions naturally suit this diverse country, allowing all voices to be heard and leaving no room for hatred. The BJP’s overemphasis on religion, anti-Muslim rhetoric and offensive language has backfired. The Lok Sabha’s composition has shifted significantly for three States of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Maharashtra. In Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, where the BJP excelled in 2019, it now faces significant setbacks. In West Bengal, it sank to 11 seats enduring conflicts with TMC workers even on polling day, the BJP’s position has weakened. Democracy survives in this country because of the innate wisdom of the ordinary common people.

The Samajwadi Party with 37 seats have emerged as the largest party. Along with six by its Congress ally, total UP tally is 43 for INDIA. The BJP which aimed at winning 80, is satisfied with a mere 34 with many of its central and State ministers losing. Voters in areas around Ayodhya have done the unthinkable. They voted against excesses for Ram temple construction by acquiring 64-acre extra land for the temple, demolishing thousands of houses, shops, temples and structures with impunity. Many homes and shops were demolished for the Ram Path in Ayodhya, leaving people questioning why the BJP Government chose to do so. Some wonder why the Government is involved in temple construction. Similar concerns arose in Varanasi, where PM Modi faced a close contest despite winning decisively in 2019.

Even Sitapur connected to Sita, not far off Ayodhya, elected an unknown Congressman Rakesh Rathor.

All these places had voted with vengeance against the highhandedness they suffered. Ganga remains as dirty as it was ten years before in Banaras. But the temple town which had varied temples of Shiv, Ganesh and other mandirs of several deities was razed for a beautification corridor that the locals never wanted. Even the main Vishwanath temple was not spared. It had images of other deities; they were all demolished to give it a new look. These 5000 temples and shops were the family livelihoods. They never expected to suffer from a Hindu party. Even a Muslim ruler did not do it.

Asked if they were acting like Aurangjeb, some senior BJP leaders replied

“he was the ruler then, now we are and would do whatever we can”. The electorate did what they could. Chitrakoot and Vindhyachal repeated it vengefully for similar “beautifying corridors”.

The Ram mandir had limited influence. Allahabad, the city named after Vaivaswat Manu’s daughter Eela, from where Ram walked to Chitrakoot today is in a sorry State. For no rhyme or reason Eelahbad name was changed. Over 100-year-old houses were razed or partially demolished to create roads for toll or Kumbh Mela. Arbitrary actions have given the city a devaStated look. The BJP leaders told citizens, “Modiji ne kaha hai to hoga hi” - that was the guarantee.

Most demolition agents were related to one or the other BJP leaders or their friends in a distant western State.

The issue of Ram historically had never helped the BJP. In 1989, when BJP was agitating for shilanyas, it lost the UP State assembly elections. In 1992, when they demolished the temple structure as Hindus called it since 1949, which the BJP called a disputed structure, the BJP lost power for the next six years. As of now through a judgment based on continued occupation of a premises, the temple is coming up, the Pran Pratistha of not bal (infant) Ram but a balak (child) Ram is not taken kindly by Ayodhya residents.

Residents in Ayodhya face confinement during celebrations, worrying about the missing infant Ram image. Locals resent security measures affecting their livelihoods. Temple visits are like airport security, requiring a long walk and Aadhaar. Footfall dwindles; people yearn for the original idol. Will the new one satisfy them?

Kalighat takeover

Even before the polls began, observers assessed severe losses for the BJP in West Bengal for unemployment, rapid price rises, agniveer and other issues. This was added by the frictions within the BJP fold. The BJP leaders were fighting more against themselves than with Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool. It was not an easy challenge for Mamata Banerjee, to protect Bengali pride. She effectively did it launching her campaign for BJP-humiliated Mohua Maitra from Krishnanagar. The BJP tried to turn it into a VIP constituency by pitting an unknown Rajmata of Krishnanagar royal family of Maharaja Krishnachandra Roy. The Krishsnanagar ploy not only did not work, it also became Waterloo for BJP. Its tally came down from18 to 11. Many ministers like Subhash Sarkar, former State party chief Dilip Ghosh, Sandeshkhali supposed rape victim Rekha Patr lost at the hustings.

Sandeshkhali was hyped up. It was busted by Mamata as fake and people believed her.

The famous Kalighat temple, supposedly one of the 51 shakti peethas also became a poll issue. A business house from Ahmedabad has reportedly illegally taken it over. It hurts the Bengali psyche.

Maharashtra was another waterloo where the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Thakre) emerged as the real Sena. Along with Uddhav, Sharad Pawar and the Congress, the opposition won 30 of the 48 seats. While BJP had to cut a sorry figure. Maharashtrians have proved that Uddhav Thakre’s is the real party. Even Muslims in large numbers did not mind voting Uddhav and Shiv Sena (UT) voted for the Congress. Their vote was against betrayal by the elected leaders Eknath Shinde, Ajit Pawar and BJP which rocked the BJP-Sena alliance.

The recent polls prove that hatred, name calling and below the belt Statements by the mighty have no place in electoral fray. Nobody is an enemy. They are just rivals. In a democracy there is no authoritarian leader. All are equal. It also proves that coalition is more natural in this country than a one-party rule.

(The author is a senior journalist; views are personal)

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