Post-2014 opinion-makers have often been over-rating the Bharatiya Janata Party’s vote-winning capability. Many of them attribute successive electoral victories to the big increase in attraction for Hindutva.
The truth, however, is something else. More than Hindutva it is the anti-incumbency factor which has facilitated its victories in the recent past.
As Indian democracy is somewhat maturing and heading towards two or multi-party system voters are changing governments more regularly than in the past.
And it is this anti-incumbency factor which may work against the BJP in the coming Assembly elections in states and of Lok Sabha in 2019.
Nothing exemplify this fact better than the sudden emergence of Arvind Kejriwal after 2011 Anna Hazare fast. Till 2010 even many media persons were not aware of Kejriwal.
By 2013 he defeated the very strong Sheila Dikshit government in Delhi. The verdict came as a surprise as the performance of her government till sometimes back was not bad.
As Aam Aadmi Party did not get majority another election was held in February 2015 and the party swept it by winning 67 out of 70 seats.
This was the result notwithstanding the fact that nine months before Narendra Modi had come to power in the Centre and the BJP had a very good organizational structure in Delhi. Besides, it projected Kiran Bedi, a very well-known face as the chief minister.
Ironically, the saffron party had won all the seven Lok Sabha seats in the May 2014 Lok Sabha poll yet in 2015 it was the Aam Aadmi Party which was better placed to cash in on the anti-incumbency sentiment in the state which otherwise is known for strong presence of the saffron party.
It is anti-incumbency factor and right alliances with small parties which helped saffron party form governments in the North East where Christians have palpable presence
The case of Bengal is not much different. Mamata Banerjee single-handedly overthrew the 34 years of the Left Front rule. The Left lost in 2011 though they had a very strong war-machine.
Though the Left parties’ workers were accused of strong arm tactic yet nobody ever accused the leaders of being corrupt. Their policy in Nandigram and Singur let them down.
It is anti-incumbency factor and right alliances with small parties which helped saffron party form governments in North East where Christians have palpable presence.
Though the BJP would give credit to Hindutva for all its poll victories the truth is that it almost lost the Assembly election in Gujarat last December. Both the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah had to toil very hard in Gujarat, which was not only their home state but also considered as the laboratory of Hindutva.
A close study of the saffron brigade would reveal that its core base has hardly expanded since the start of Ram Janambhoomi movement almost three decades back, which ultimately led to the demolition of Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992. It is only the number of voters which keeps fluctuating.
For example it rose in 1998 and 1999 Lok Sabha polls but plummeted in 2004 leading to defeat of till then popular Atal Bihari Vajpayee government at the hands of rank outsider Sonia Gandhi.
As a political alternative the BJP once again bounced to power in 2014.
So if Vajpayee, otherwise a relatively balance person, could not withstand the anti incumbency wave and that too when both Mamata Banerjee and Naveen Patnaik––along with several others––were in the NDA and Sharad Pawar had broken away in the name of Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin today Congress President Rahul Gandhi is in better position to challenge Modi.
Mind it almost all the media calculations went wrong in 2004.
The BJP is a poor learner from history. It should understand that not all of those who kept voting the Marxists in Bengal were Communists. They were only the average voters who see in them as a political alternative to the Congress. Once an alternative emerged they lost the poll.
Thus giving too much credit to the ideology of Hindutva is fraught with danger for the BJP. It was elected by the people to offer better government. If it fails it too can be voted out of power.