The initial years of Modi government had been tough for it on one important count. It had come to power at the Centre with massive majority but it couldn’t get many bills, which it considered reformist or progressive, passed in the Rajya Sabha.
Congress and its friendly parties were in majority in the Rajya Sabha and would simply not allow the government's several key legislations to pass through it. The then finance minister and Leader of House, Late Arun Jaitley had famously remarked that it was the “tyranny of unelected”.
However, with Narendra Modi as Prime Minister and Amit Shah as the BJP president, the party was in process of acquiring an entirely different colour and was getting poised to change the game. It was not resting easy after having come to the power.
“We have to pledge that the BJP should be there from the panchayats to Parliament. Every state should see this, we have to take the BJP to power” said Amit Shah in the National Council meeting held in New Delhi to ratify his presidency, in August 2014. Shah meant every word he said.
The party was to redefine boundaries.
By the beginning of Modi government 2.0, BJP’s floor management in Upper House ensured that that the “tyranny of the unelected” in Rajya Sabha was a thing of past – passage of CAA and 'abrogation' of Article 370, 35A and creating two UTs out of state of Jammu and Kashmir were the biggest manifestations of this change. Interestingly, both these contentious legislations were moved in the Rajya Sabha first and only then in the Lok Sabha.
On the night 31 March 2022, the BJP reached yet another significant landmark – crossing the '100 MPs' mark in Rajya Sabha. It now has 101 members there. For the first time since 1988, a party has that kind of figures in the Upper House. Since it is a Council of States—where MPs are elected by the MLAs of the states concerned to represent the state—the BJP’s 100 plus number is indicative of not just of its geographical expanse but also of the numbers it has in different assemblies.
Thursday evening's results had another significance – the BJP-led NDA now has 13 out of 14 MPs from the north-eastern region. The Congress and the Left for the first time will have no representation from the north-east. Note that it was not long ago that Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister represented Assam in the Upper House.
The Congress' dwindled numbers pose another threat of ignominy to it – after getting wiped out from state after state, it is on brink of losing the Leader of Opposition (LoP) status in Rajya Sabha. As it is, since 2014, in last Lok Sabha and current, it couldn’t get LoP status.
The changed numbers in Parliament have established BJP’s total supremacy in both Houses of the Parliament.
This newly achieved milestone is even sweeter for the party as it comes in the wake of returning to power in four states: UP, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur. The party is making winning a habit and losing only an aberration.
The question is how the party has made it possible.
Led by PM Modi, the BJP has obviously created huge number of pro-incumbency votes for itself both for the parliament and for different state assembly elections; the latter defied even the impact of two years of pandemic.
The biggest contributor to that is surely the credibility and goodwill of Modi across the regions in the country, in households cutting across economic and social strata; more so in poorer sections of society in hinterlands.
With Modi at the helm, with transparent and fair last-mile delivery of social welfare schemes, with speed and scale being the USP for its flagship infrastructure projects, the BJP central leadership invested in its younger leaders in different states, made them chief ministers and gave them space them to grow. Leaders in their 40s and early 50s were picked up to lead the party's government in the states and to try and broad-base party’s social support through issues related to governance.
The BJP also seems to have learnt its lessons from the debacles in Rajasthan and Jharkhand: change the incumbent if there was popular angst against him/her, and if need be, not once but twice – as it happened in Uttarakhand. Performance, not individual whims or lobbying, became the key to success.
The party may have welcomed outsiders, as also turncoats on the basis of winnability during elections, but its government in states, besides delivering popular goods has deviated from the party’s basic ideological moorings– Hindutava and cultural nationalism.
The Modi government had done its part to achieve what it called its “articles of faith” – construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya and 'abrogation' of Article 370. There may not be overt frenzy among people over these issues today, and rightly so. But there is great deal of satisfaction that the Modi-led current dispensation of BJP had done what it said.
In popular perception, Yogi Adityanath in UP and Himanta Biswa Sarma in Assam are the rock star chief ministers in BJP ranks.
The youngest in the BJP CMs lot, Pushkar Singh Dhami (party leadership made an unprecedented move, making him CM even after losing his own election) in Uttarakhand seems to be a fast learner. One of his decisions in his first Cabinet meeting after resuming office has been to propose a committee of former judges, acclaimed jurists and others to draft a 'common civil code' for the state.
This was a significant move. First, it is a pre-poll promise. Second, so far it was perceived that the issue was in central government's domain. But Dhami took legal advice and came to the conclusion (in consultation with senior leaders) that the issue pertained to the Concurrent List -- the state could legislate on it and seek Presidential assent. If President gives his assent, it becomes a law.
If it goes that way in times to come, it could become a template, a model law for other states to follow. By doing that, the BJP would also have checkmated its critics and rivals through its innovative politics.
Sanjay Singh is a seasoned journalist who has worked in all formats of media: print, tv, digital. He is known for his field reporting and political analysis and commentary, particularly those relating to UP elections, assembly or parliamentary.
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