As Prime Minister Modi and the BJP reflect on their worst electoral disaster ever since the glory of the Lok Sabha elections of 2014 followed with a string of superb electoral victories in five states across India, it is indeed time for stock taking. The magnitude of the BJP’s defeat in Delhi can be estimated from the fact that from a seemingly unassailable 60:10 lead in assembly segments during the Lok Sabha elections merely 9 months back, it has now been reduced to 3 seats.
The humiliation was complete with the loss of Kiran Bedi in Krishna Nagar, one of the safest seats for the BJP which Dr. Harshvardhan, the former CM candidate and current MP from Chandi Chowk had won last time with a huge margin of 33,000 votes. Although the BJP retained its traditional 33% vote, the absolute meltdown of the Congress and smaller players meant the AAP leapfrogged ahead with a 21% lead in voteshare.
Despite an avalanche of op-eds in the coming days which will pontificate on the same, objective analysis of the reasons for BJP’s Delhi debacle will be largely unmet since political commentators suffer from their own political and personal inclinations apart from their ideological biases and this trend runs across the political spectrum. So while blaming the Hindutva fringe for politics of Ghar Wapsi and Love Jihad and the BJP’s loss will be the most fashionable byline of ‘secular’ op-eds, one will find sections of BJP’s economic right subscribe to the same.
Similarly, a segment of the BJP’s support base will blame the acerbic and allegedly mendacious reporting of the mainstream media which has historically no love lost for it. The economic right will further blame the slow pace of reforms. The economic left represented by communists, socialists and the BJP’s own Swadeshi unions will blame the pro reform anti socialist orientation of the government. A minor Hindu cultural right will allude to continued Hindu victimhood across India and the lack of any coherent nationalist strategy in eliminating anti Hindu biases in the establishment, educational curriculum and law. Some analysts might blame the inimitable palette of freebies which Kejriwal had to offer, Kiran Bedi’s induction as chief ministerial candidate at the late hour, MCD’s poor performance and the infighting and nepotism within the BJP state unit.
However, I contend that all such factors were minor, inadequate or even inconsequential in BJP’s defeat. A constellation of such factors did not ultimately lead to this defeat although they could possibly have contributed to its sheer scale and magnitude. There are just two prime reasons for Delhi becoming BJP mukta; BJP’s juvenile electoral strategy for a peculiar state like Delhi and the ability of the AAP to perfectly bond with the poor and lower middle classes that could identify with them while succeeding in portraying the BJP as a party representing the interests of the industrialists and the privileged economically affluent classes.
Not the right reasons: BJP’s Delhi disaster
A popular conspiracy theory which is doing the rounds in social media (SM) among BJP supporters is that the mainstream media (MSM) through its allegedly mendacious reporting successfully created the conditions which led to the BJP’s downfall. It is obvious that there was no love lost between Modi and the media since 2002. Moreover, it is impossible for contemporary English language MSM bred within a nourishing Congress style ecosystem to have convergence with a party which is broadly viewed as Hindu leaning, nationalistic or anti-socialist.
Similarly, BJP social media supporters may justly feel aggrieved when high ranking ministers of the Modi cabinet exclusively patronize elements of the MSM which face alleged money laundering charges while sharing a long history of spewing venom against Modi and his politics. A leading newspaper also created a misleading ‘simmering fire’ of inflation. Nevertheless, the MSM must be credited for picking up the first signals of reversal of pro BJP electoral trends and the rise of Kejriwal from the Delhi electoral cauldron. Much to the chagrin of BJP SM supporters most of whom believed that such opinion polls were being manufactured to favour the AAP, the electoral results prove the MSM in this case was right on the money.
Moreover, the influence of the English language MSM is limited to the upper middle class and elite whose traditional vote for the BJP is presumably intact. In contrast, among the Hindi language TV channels and vernacular papers, abundant and sometimes biased pro BJP views were dominant which refutes the “media” hypothesis. The anti BJP media may be overzealous in propping and identifying with the vanquishers of Modi-Shah but they deserve minimal credit for AAP’s unprecedented success this time round.
The second explanation is synonymous with Hindutva bashing. Hindu fringe groups campaigning on issues relating to Ghar Wapsi, Love Jihad, anti PK protests have allegedly caused disillusionment amongst liberal Hindus who voted for BJP & Modi on grounds of development alone while a sense of impending fear has compelled minorities to consolidate against the BJP. Outrageously ill conceived and irresponsible statements of BJP MPs like Sakshi Maharaj have also been factored within the same rhetoric. Interestingly, the same logic was evoked during the string of by-poll losses suffered by the BJP in UP and Bihar but they quietly disappeared from circulation during the series of impressive state electoral victories engineered soon after.
This indicates the opportunistic nature of such arguments where one’s own anti Hindutva agenda is superimposed over electoral analyses. Moreover, in Delhi, minority voter consolidation against the BJP has a long history and a similar trend was observed during the LS 2014 elections except that the Congress had managed to retain a significantly higher fraction of its vote than now.
Moreover, the potential legitimacy of Hindutva concerns has never been addressed satisfactorily since India’s left leaning elite have historically been known for their own anti Hindu doctrinal axes to grind. Demolishing strawman arguments by presenting them as coterminous with the Hindutva doctrine will not legitimize MSM’s prejudices. However, the inept BJP and Sangh parivar spokesmen have contributed in no small measure towards the MSM’s dominance in the anti-Hindutva debates. For instance, the natural legitimacy of Ghar Wapsi program which seeks to restore willing participants into the Hindu fold was not articulately defended even as thousands of crores of money is pumped into India for Christian evangelization missions. Similarly, the hullabaloo over the four child norm for Hindus became source of embarrassment for the BJP, even as PM Modi optimistically echoes the ‘power’ and the ‘glory’ of India’s unskilled “demographic dividend”. The fact remains that poor underprivileged people irrespective of religion dependent upon the state for their upbringing and education should ideally pursue small family norms. Nevertheless, in the name of ‘secularism’ such suggestions have remained taboo for those minority religious groups which hitherto continue to record the highest TFR.
The third explanation suggests that the freebies in terms of water, electricity and WiFi offered by AAP proved to be irresistible for Delhi’s voters. In 2013 during the Rajasthan state elections, the poverty stricken people of the state rejected what the columnist, Swapan Dasgupta had described as the swansong of ‘Sonianomics’. So this is an easy and attractive argument but doesn’t explain how Rajasthan’s economically underprivileged voters could resist such temptations and instead heed Modi’s advice of empowerment over entitlement.
Kiran Bedi often did manifest her political naivety. By not extending an invitation to Kejriwal for the republic day parade and instead inviting Bedi for the same, Modi reflected perhaps the most parochial moment in his political career. Bedi’s immature words that it was her karma which had got her to that ‘exalted’ position in life must have come to haunt her now. The state BJP leaders who felt politically emasculated by her presence rather gave the impression of a house divided. Yet, it cannot be denied that Bedi represented a powerful figure of female empowerment with nearly impeccable credentials.
It is probably her strict taskmaster image which did not go down well with sections of the electorate. For instance, residents of Delhi who encroach on public spaces either for residence or livelihood were obviously unnerved by her presence and such misgivings were exploited to the hilt by her opponents. We may recall that the incorruptible, visionary and urban crusader Jagmohan tasted defeat in 2004 against Ajay Maken from the New Delhi constituency when he uprooted illegal settlements neighbouring the Yamuna banks whose residents enacted revenge by voting him out. Ironically, the elite and middle class who benefited most from his anti-encroachment drives remained conspicuous by their absence in the poll booths.
As for the issue of MCD, this was not a referendum on its (lack of) performance. The BJP could secure 46% of the popular vote nine months back in spite of the same unpopular MCD.
The abandonment of the party by sections of its key middle class allies in the trading and bureaucratic class has been suggested to be another factor featuring in the defeat but its magnitude remains debatable in the absence of hard post poll data.
Finally, all opinions are unanimous in their verdict that until December’ 2014 BJP was the frontrunner by a significant margin. Therefore, the timing of the polls and other extraneous factors should be discounted. The electoral strategy of the BJP vis-à-vis AAP remains the key differentiating factor which possibly explains the adverse electoral outcomes for the BJP.
BJP’s electoral strategy: From Lok Sabha to Vidhan Sabha
There is remarkable consensus among electoral pundits that Modi’s innovative, comprehensive and highly affirmative developmental agenda in presence of an abysmal Congress track record in terms of corruption and dubious leadership of Rahul Gandhi were largely responsible for catapulting the BJP into the position of single party majority for the first in 30 years. What remains debatable is the degree of the Hindutva undercurrent which propelled Modi to power especially in the Hindi heartland? We shall avoid digression by dwelling into that aspect but regardless it is impossible to deny Modi’s status and perception of being the ‘Hindu hriday samrat’ elevated his stature at-least among those sympathetic to the soft Hindutva worldview and inexorably facilitated Hindu consolidation.
Modi is the tallest politician of our time who exposed the Congress and its ideological brotherhood for taking refuge within the “burqah of secularism” when confronted with hard facts relating to corruption, lack of development and regressive social agendas. After ascendancy and taking oath as PM, Modi initiated certain ambitious and path-breaking schemes like the Swatch Bharat Abhiyan for universal sanitation, the Jan Dhan Yojna for financial inclusion, the clean Ganga campaign, Skill development & Make in India campaign apart from several ambitious forays into infrastructure development. Unfortunately, the sheer magnitude and ambition of these projects apart from inheriting an old school bureaucracy with a moribund economy has meant that project fulfillment with associated benefits like large scale employment generation and ultimate reaping of ponteital electoral dividend will require a long intervening period stretching into years with the obviously imminent danger of not having adequate tangible deliverables to showcase during assembly polls.
Modi in deference to his optimistic slogan of ‘acche din’ avoided public reference to the economic doldrums he encountered on attaining office. Nevertheless, Modi through the sheer goodwill and trust he enjoyed among the masses easily overthrew incumbent and discredited Congress governments in four states despite the opposition and sections of the MSM resorting to an intense negative campaign against him. Meanwhile, Modi’s foreign policy initiatives had been largely successful and Modi consciously chose to exploit their success as part of his electoral strategy. Modi and Amit Shah, the BJP president, led centralized campaigns in all states and avoided projecting any CM candidate to prevent intra party infighting.
Why Delhi is different
Modi and Shah believed in pursuing a similar strategy for the Delhi polls with the incorporation of Kiran Bedi as CM candidate being possibly the only exception in its strategy. Modi and especially Amit Shah however overlooked Delhi’s politico-cultural orientation. Delhi enjoys a unique dynamics which renders it very different from the rest of India; its alluring contradictions can bedazzle and create a web of deceit for the untrained viewer. The sense of corruption and idealized justice can often become intertwined in the city rendering it difficult to differentiate one from the other. For instance, several Delhi traders assembled in 2006 against a Supreme Court order relating to sealing of shops and created sufficient political pressure across the spectrum which compelled the government to practically defy the court order.
Changing land deeds for transforming agricultural into valuable residential real estate, regularization of unauthorized colonies and freebies for illegal slums remain key battleground electoral issues. We observe paradoxical demand for free water while simultaneously expressing alarm over depleting water tables, or cheaper electricity despite enjoying relatively cheaper rates, and questionable allegations relating to ‘speeding’ electricity meters when the old time ‘sarkari’ DESU meters were often crippled to a fault. And this is the same city which gave rise to the Anna movement, where people were made to believe that the ombudsman would be the omnipotent authority to root out the evil of corruption from the state, if not our hearts.
The sanctimony of Delhi extends into its debate on women’s security where heinous patriarchal mindsets receive little attention or the often observed heartless nonchalance of its residents towards victims of violence or accidents. This city’s beautiful media people were boisterously indignant against a pub assault by a fringe group in Bangalore while maintaining their peace when thousands of women and children protesting against black money with Baba Ramdev were thrown to the streets to fend for themselves well past midnight by the city’s police under the UPA government’s noses.
The political situation in Delhi was also fluid compared to the other states reeling with incumbent and unpopular governments. AAP and Kejriwal with the ample help of a sympathetic media built a brilliantly crafted narrative of a supremely successful 49 day government which fulfilled aspirations of the ordinary people and made meaningfully persistent changes in their lives by “eliminating corruption” through helplines, providing people ‘the right to sting operations’ against police and bureaucracy and ensuring “hitherto unknown” electricity and water subsidies as a matter of people’s right. The empirical evidence that such initiatives actually attained their stated objectives remains missing.
Even Kejriwal’s decision to quit government, a shameful moment reflecting the paramountcy of personal aspiration hoping to emerge as a compromise prime minister was transformed into a virtuous act of a sentimental revolutionary whose only concern was the betterment of the common man. By mass contact, sheer persistence and apologies painting a virtue out of a necessity, the AAP succeeded in imprinting this narrative into the collective consciousness of the masses greatly aided by the half hearted and woefully inadequate contestation by the BJP who lazily believed that the tag of ‘bhagoda’ (deserter) remained a dominant public concern.
BJP’s blundering electoral strategy
A series of electoral blunders, rare for any ruling political party paved the way for what transpired as the Delhi debacle. While some of these monumental errors were apparently spur of the moment and baffling, the others were rooted in decisions undertaken at varying moments in the past. Ultimately, the roots of the debacle rest squarely with Modi and Shah who did not have an ear to the ground and missed those early warning signals as they had long burnt bridges with their social media supporters as some relic of the distant past and what remained were memories of another day.
Did Modi really believe that his morphing from the strongman rustic chaiwala with a 56 inch chest into the global Nehru style Gandhian statesman would mesmerize domestic audiences as well as abroad? Initially, Modi was circumspect like at Jharkhand where he turned the tables on the incumbent who had charged Modi of neglecting his domestic constituencies during his globetrotting. Modi deftly responded that he spent time abroad not for any personal gain but to bring investments, research and development for his toiling and underprivileged countrymen. Unfortunately in Delhi, Modi dropped his guard and eschewed from such righteous rhetoric and instead believed his aura rendered him immune from such negativism although the impatience with respect to tangible deliverables was growing on the ground, thanks to a relentless campaign by AAP and to an extent the Congress.
Modi’s efforts in projecting his personal bonding and friendship with president Obama through efforts like the special maudlin episode of ‘Mann ki Baat’ radioshow also backfired. Modi’s excessive bonhomie and palliness appeared cosmetic especially coming from the man who in in his pre-PM avatar believed India’s rightful place in the world demanded speaking to all while meeting eye to eye without fear or favour. The dominant Indian mind prefers friendship with the US but maintains concerns for its military and economic patronage of Pakistan. Obama’s sermons on religious tolerance were also an ungratefully rude gesture towards the Indian people considering his hypocritical silence on the same in certain Islamic countries with documented record of minority religious persecution.
Finally, Modi’s tangible achievement in securing a nuclear deal for supply of uranium and nuclear reactors was unlikely to impress the electoral masses who remained nonchalant to such concerns. Segments of the media projected the exercise as another of BJP’s U turns since in 2008, the party had opposed the nuclear deal. A minority including this author is averse to the risks posed by nuclear energy. The technology has been largely abandoned worldwide including Europe and America except France, while the terror threats faced by such assets also compounds the risk.
The disconnect of Modi with the electorate was never as sharp as witnessed in this election. We may illustrate the hypothesis with three examples from the election campaign. First, with low rates of inflation, absence of news worthy corruption, cheaper petrol-diesel and an economy riding a wave of new optimism, this was a Delhi election which did not have any electoral issues as such, indeed, given a choice, it was an election which Delhi could very well have done without. The BJP fell into the AAP trap by exponentially raising the stakes of this election and turning it into a referendum on Kejriwal.
It forgot that the AAP even while forfeiting its deposits in hundreds of constituencies across the country had secured 36% of the Delhi popular vote against Modi in the LS elections which hinted then at the enduring relevance of the idea of someone like Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi. The identification of Delhi’s economically backward classes with Kejriwal for taking up for what they perceived as the issues of the common man while promising acute and simple solutions proved to be of greater appeal than Modi’s promise of big ticket reforms and economic restructuring.
Also, in the company of Lutyens elite and most of his ministers bred in TV studios and lacking mass appeal, Modi’s charisma among the poor and lower middle classes through guilt of association dimmed although his goodwill largely remained intact at-least for those who had voted for him previously. The one trump card which Modi held was that the resources required to fulfill Kejriwal’s promises were impossible to generate. Surprisingly, Modi chose not to actively contest and condemn this economically ruinous political subsidy although he gave veiled hints by releasing a long term vision document against a manifesto. Modi could have rejected the politics of economically ruinous and irrational subsidies by publically refusing to commit into the sin of rendering promises which would be impossible to keep. Instead, Modi and Shah chose to enter into a game of competitive subsidies against the AAP. BJP’s populist ‘masterstrokes’ included the political decision to regularize all unauthorized colonies in Delhi, creating permits for thousands of erickshaws by amending transport laws and even promising permanent housing to residents of all slums, most of which had historically, illegally encroached on government land.
When feedback from the party on the ground suggested that the slum dwellers were unwilling to be transported away from their present location, Modi in his desperation for the jhuggi voters went overboard and promised high-rise houses in-situ. How such dreams could materialize from the taxpayer’s budget is a different proposition, Modi should have explained how he planned to build high rises for slums located in VIP areas like the Race course (high rises are incidentally banned in Lutyens zone). The larger question that the BJP economic right must answer is that how was Modi’s promises in Delhi any different from that of Sonia Gandhi’s proposed economic model in Rajasthan of 2013? The urban poor in Delhi’s slums proved their sagacity by opting for Kejriwal’s free water and electricity now and shall claim their permanent housing from Modi in 2022.
Second, ever since the Nirbhaya case, women’s security has emerged as a key electoral issue in Delhi as suggested in almost all opinion polls. Harshvardhan in the VS 2013 had proposed improving street lighting to reduce crime against women. Kejriwal has promised installing no less than 15 lac CCTVs for monitoring the city, a feat which the Stasi would have been proud of. Modi astonishingly, in contrast, did not broach the issue of women’s security even once in his four Delhi rallies. Kiran Bedi’s credentials were perfectly attuned towards disciplining Delhi into becoming respectful towards its women, but Modi and the BJP missed the perfect opportunity to project Bedi as the messiah who would rid the national capital of its dubious standards of women safety.
Third, in absence of erosion of Modi’s personal credibility, the AAP could not dream of sweeping the elections and registering its historic victory. Finding it impossible to contaminate Modi with the taint of corruption or personal gain, the opposition confronted Modi on the issue of black money and charged Modi of having breached people’s faith by not bringing back black money into the country time within 100 days. They further alleged that Modi had deceived the electorate by making false promises assuring 15 Lac of black money in individual accounts of the poor.
This nasty allegation went uncontested both by Modi and BJP spokespersons while facing the media and has now acquired the status of a hallowed truth. To my knowledge, Modi had never suggested any arbitrary time frame for bringing back black money. Moreover, in his chai pe charcha conversation as PM candidate, Modi categorically promised only the salaried honest taxpaying citizen a tiny rebate as a gift if and when black money was repatriated.
The idea that it was Modi who promised lacs of money from the black money loot to private citizen accounts is a malicious untruth. Yet, Modi and the BJP allowed this severely damaging myth to crystallize into an apparent truth in public discourse. In fact, none other than Amit Shah, in a television interview days before the Delhi poll instead of rejecting the myth with the contempt it deserved, ironically admitted to the black money charge as a ‘Chunawi Jumla’ (election idiom) which rendered the party to further ridicule and travesty.
Similarly, a suit worm by Modi with his microscopically embroidered name on the occasion of Republic day was alleged by a media report to be worth 10 lac INR, although other reports suggested that the cloth used in its making was a gift and its stitching cost merely being a few thousand rupees. In a subsequent rally, Rahul Gandhi launched a blistering attack on Modi as the one who proved his distance from the poor by wearing such ostentatious clothing. Throughout the LS campaign Modi ridiculed Rahul Gandhi’s caustic personal attacks against him. Yet, now, very bafflingly, Modi and his party’s spokesperson maintained a deafening silence on this unjust accusation.
Rahul’s utterances had provided Modi with the perfectly opportune moment to definitively alter the direction of discourse this election was taking. Modi could have played the card of righteous indignation for is not Modi the man who donated 21 lacs of his personal savings as CM for girl’s education when he became PM; is not Modi the man who unlike Manmohan Singh auctioned all gifts received by his CM office and donated the money raised to charity? Instead, Modi allowed the moment to elude him and with it his party’s chances of electoral victory. The myth of the 10 lac Modi suit spread like wildfire across Delhi especially among the low income groups who believed in the tale since their beloved Modiji himself didn’t refute the allegation leveled against him.
Modi’s lack of confidence during his later electoral speeches was confounding even for his ardent supporters. In one such speech, he grumbled about those elite who have not been able to digest his elevation to the post of prime minister as he was not a blue eyed Nehruvian. The sense of victimhood which Modi portrayed could have generated sympathy for him as long as he was PM candidate but now being the PM himself who enjoyed a complete majority he was expected to attend to such matters himself instead of pleading helplessness. Moreover, the Modi government’s spectacular inability to bring to justice those accused of massive corruption in the previous government has been a source of consternation for the countrymen who believe the guilty must be brought to book.
Lastly, Modi had ample opportunities to counter Kejriwal’s perverse rhetoric like when the latter accused Modi of giving the people a lac of rupees only in their death, a reference to the Jan Dhan yojna’s provision for life insurance. He let those slip.
The Exile of Hindutva and the return of ‘secular’ dreams
Although, as previously argued, Hindutva had little to do with the Delhi election, the Modi’s government resistance in initiating a cultural agenda consistent with the dharmic viewpoint is wholly unwarranted. Despite nine months in office, the reprehensibly anti Hindu bias in existing NCERT social science textbooks has neither been weeded out, nor has found replacement with competent texts reflective of an ideologically neutral position. The NDA under Vajpayee did initiate steps albeit not entirely satisfactorily to replace NCERT texts despite the gargantuan opposition by the left liberal and communist cabal.
The importance which the UPA government under Sonia Gandhi and then HRD minister, the late Arjun Singh assigned to textbook control can be ascertained from the fact that one of the first decisions of the UPA-1 was replacement of the NCERT texts introduced by the BJP with their own and all this occurred in the name of detoxification and anti-saffronization. With each passing academic year the existing NCERT social science texts with their leftist and communist distortions of Hindu civilization which are allowed to persist, a generation of young Indians graduate with internalized ideas suggestive of a shameful Hindu past, a pretentious ‘secularist’ idea of India held hostage by lumpen elements of reactionary Hindutva fringes who represent the gravest threat facing India!
Similarly, Modi had promised repeal of outdated laws from the IPC. Yet, practically blasphemous laws like section 295-C enacted by the British to predominantly censor criticism of Islamic and Christian worldviews continue to prevail. The conflict with freedom of expression and scholarship apart, the law in application has duplicitous standards and hurting sentiments of Hindus rarely attracts the attention of the police and courts since the onus of tolerance rests with the Hindu majority.
Further, the decision not to declassify records relating to Subhash Chandra Bose’s mysterious “death” or the Henderson Brookes report are U-turns from BJP’s electoral commitments.
Emerging concerns relate to the right to education act and its consequences for small private educational institutions run by Hindus have been stonewalled.
The government’s defensive approaches relating to issues relating to freedom of speech, evangelization and ghar wapsi, continued persecution of Hindus in South Asia, illegal immigration and religious demographic concerns suggest Modi’s persistent unease with addressing issues which are not directly relating to material development and poverty alleviation and which may not carry significant electoral dividend. Yet, the resolution of such issues requires belief and courage of conviction for their persistence will definitely undermine all developmental agendas in he long run. As Swami Vivekananda said, “Truth does not pay homage to society; society has to pay homage to truth or die”
Consequences of the Delhi Debacle: the road ahead
Delhi as a state has limited political currency with merely 7 LS seats and 3 RS positions to offer. However, being the national capital, news emerging from Delhi can generate ripples across the nation. We find that the responsibility for BJP’s Delhi debacle rests with Modi and Shah who were hitherto architects of all its previous victories since the LS polls. The slogan “Delhi chale Modi ke saath” and Modi’s images dwarfing Bedi’s in party posters proves that Modi was the torchbearer of this election like all others and assigning blame to others will be unfair considering that Modi himself chose to stake a considerable part of his political reputation on this election.
Kejriwal is an astute politician and his sights will be set on the big prize on offer in 2019 especially with the doorway to the Punjab lying wide open. It would be a mistake to overlook the potential repercussions of this massive electorate mandate for the AAP. Even if Kejriwal is unable to fulfill his electoral promises, he can resort to means which portray the centre with all its riches being the unsympathetic agent of the rich who doesn’t care for its poor. He will also have sections of sympathetic media on his side who would give their all to elevate his stature to rival that of Modi. AAP can easily earn some ‘secular’ merit by clamping down on the fringe Hindutva groups who threaten to disrupt Valentine’s day celebrations.
If all else fails, AAP can potentially unleash regressive social and communal agendas like elevating the quantum of caste based reservation in jobs and educational institutions apart from providing for exclusive minority entitlement schemes. The BJP has never shown any vision to challenge the dominant narrative of caste based reservation and little can be expected even from Modi whose ideas on higher education remain concealed.
The BJP will also need to refashion its electoral strategy, going into polls in states against a rejuvenated opposition who having vicariously tasted success in Delhi have broken free from the spell of Amit Shah’s electoral invincibility and recognized the sole mantra for victory being the need to consolidate their index of unity. Yet, most of all, PM Modi must regain that which made him great, that which made people believe he would repatriate India’s black money loot, that which made people he would cleanse Indian politics of its corruption, that which made people he would spell the death knell of communalism and casteism and that which made him emerge as the icon of hope and development for its 125 crore citizens.