The just concluded elections in Maharashtra and Haryana were a resounding support to the governance vision and action followed by the respective BJP governments in the last five years in these states. A strange narrative was floated within hours of the verdict and it was that national security and patriotism did not bother the people and that what the voter needed was opportunities, jobs and a government that was responsive to the people. Interestingly it is only BJP governments which score high on all these parameters. The Congress party continues to be clueless and in disarray, its policy and approach to alliances remains confused, it has been incapable of articulating a credible narrative or to place before the people an alternative political and governance programme.
The CPIM was nowhere to be seen in these elections and yet both parties claimed moral victory. They have not been able to explain as to why is it that they stand nowhere in the verdict, why is it that every verdict, since 2014, has further marginalised them. Their taking pot shots at PM Modi, all their attempts to fan the fires of societal conflict, their repeated attempts to generate a false narrative on the abrogation of Article 370 and to paint a false picture of the situation on the ground in Kashmir failed to gain traction. At least their moral victory should have got translated into votes for themselves or should have reflected in the percentage of vote they have received. The CPIM, for instance, had polled 5.76% in the 2014 assembly elections in Maharashtra, in 2019; it managed to hang on to one seat and saw its vote percentage plummet to a measly 0.37%. In Haryana, for example, the self-professed proletarian party, garnered a miniscule 0.07% of the vote share and no seats, it was less than even what it had garnered in 2014 which was 0.71%. Similarly, in 2019, in the Lok Sabha elections it had failed to open its account in West Bengal, a state it had ruled for nearly four decades. In the centenary year of their founding the electoral footprints of the communist parties in India are abysmally shrinking, but their grandstanding on national issues and false propaganda on policies and governance issues continues unabated.
The other election that has reinforced the positive development narrative and has demonstrated the triumph of democracy at the grassroots is the just concluded elections to the Block Development Councils (BDC) in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. This was first ever elections to the BDCs since 1947 and one saw a record of over 98% voting. Never had the region witnessed such a phenomenon. The Congress, PDP, NC and the communist parties boycotted the elections thus trying to delegitimize this democratic exercise. The CPIM, for example, has hardly any presence in the state, and yet these parties thought that they would be able to stall the process or exhibit to the world that the exercise was futile.
But they could not arrest the tide of enthusiasm in favour of the democratic process at the grassroots. There were 1065 candidates in the fray for 310 blocks; it means that each block was being contested by at least 3-4 candidates. It demonstrated the eagerness, the enthusiasm and the determination among the people to enlist and participate in the democratic process. Abrogation of 370 had unleashed their full democratic fervour and potential. In districts such as Pulwama and Shopian the turnout was recorded at 85.3% and 86.2% respectively, while Srinagar recorded a 100% turnout, this despite threats from terrorists who had vowed to disrupt the historic democratic exercise.
The BJP won 52 councils in Jammu, 18 in Kashmir and 11 in Ladakh. Significantly, BJP won eight seats in Rajouri district and seven in Kishtwar. In the militant hotbed of south Kashmir’s Shopian district the BJP won eight blocks. Independents won a total of 217 blocks. It has proved again the BJP’s determination to work to firmly root democracy in the region, to ensure that people at the grassroots have a say in their destiny and future. This was its commitment to the people of the region when Article 370 was abrogated and when PM Modi had enunciated his new vision for the region’s growth and prosperity. The communist parties, the Congress and the others have emerged as irrelevant in this round.
October 2019 has thus been an interesting month; it has been a month of the triumph of the narrative of positive governance and the narrative of nationalism and national unity against the false narrative of separatism and discord.