Delhi, and Why Deb Is Off the Mark

Nupur J Sharma

Feb 14, 2015, 09:33 PM | Updated Feb 18, 2016, 12:30 PM IST

Your writer’s psephology is wrong in a ridiculously casteist article

Since Narendra Modi came to power as arguably the first democratically elected Prime Minister of India (where people voted for the PM and not necessarily the political party), I have had the misfortune of reading a plethora of biased propaganda-driven articles. Some were ridden with liberal propaganda. Some with pure venom. The one in question here however, is neither. It does not reek of hatred or propaganda. What it does reek of is unbridled misinformation and sarcasm gone horribly wrong.

Sadipan Deb, in this ill-researched article riddled with terrible retort, has made some swooping assumption, baseless allegation, and downright ridiculous analysis that I wish to refute.

The two sides of BJP. Versions or sides of the same coin? 

“In the Delhi assembly elections, the two sides of the BJP met head-on, and the better side lost.” 

Here, Deb, like many others, has drawn an eloquent contrast between the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) “development” and “Hindutva” agendas. The question it pegs is, of course, whether they are mutually exclusive. Or, are they just different sides of the same coin? To understand this, we will have to go back about a year in time.

During the campaign for Lok Sabha 2014, the appeal of Modi was a conundrum to many. He ignited a fresh ray of hope of a different developed India. But is that all he offered? His appeal was not merely of a forward looking development-oriented leader, but that of a development oriented Hindu leader.

That Modi focussed on the development plank for the greater part of his campaign is a given. But, if we look at BJP’s Lok Sabha manifesto closely, the issues of Ram temple at Ayodhya and the implementation of a uniform civil code are etched as the two blaring pending Hindutva issues [Though calling UCC a Hindutva issue is erroneous, since all personal laws would be abolished, it has been one of the greatest demands of the right wing]. During his campaigning, he vehemently attacked the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime over its meat export policies, especially in relation to cow slaughter.

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) got 159 seats in the 2009 Lok Sabha and 336 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha. Assuming that the entire swing in seats was solely owing to either the development plank or the Hindutva plank is a huge error. An unprecedented majority, with the largest seat wing in history, has to be a culmination of the two-pronged road map that BJP offered.

Now, in 2015, if anyone is assuming that elections are going to be won only based on development is either fooling himself, or is undeniably someone who wants to see the BJP lose, and lose miserably (as in Delhi). Compromising any of the core agendas — be it development, Ram Mandir, UCC, or cow slaughter — is like signing a death warrant for the party. These two planks are not mutually exclusive, but mutually indifferent agendas that have to be met in parallel.

Other than the electoral aspect, I have a bone to pick with the author as he implies that focussing on the Hindu agenda means writing off the development plank. I would love Deb (or anyone else who holds the same view) to explain to me how demanding a ban on cow slaughter, or asking for a UCC or the Ram temple would affect the development of the nation. How would it affect police reforms, agriculture revolution, infrastructure etc?

Deb also talks of all the Hindutva-driven controversies that the BJP seems to be getting into since coming to power. I am assuming he is referring to

– Religious conversions;

– Have a certain number of children.

The BJP has made its stand extremely clear. That it respects and honours every religion in the country. And to protect the religious rights of every individual, an anti-conversion law is an imperative. What astounds me is that all opposition parties and our ‘liberal’ media, wants the BJP to stop ‘ghar wapsi’ (re-converting the people believed to have converted out of Hindusim at some point in history). But at the same time, they are conveniently mum on issues of conversion to Islam and Christianity. Surprisingly, it took ghar wapsi (later found false) to get the entire liberal mechanism to start talking about the troubles of forced conversions and conversions due to incentives, intimidation etc. This can be attributed either to hatred for Hindus, or minority appeasement. But basically it just has “the stench of a rancour that can only come from a deep-seated inferiority complex masquerading as swinging dicks”. To assume that the average BJP voter that gave it a thumping majority is not aware of this shameless pandering is underestimating the voter.

I think asking for a certain number of children per Hindu family ridiculous. I as a Hindu woman would never fall for that nonsense. But the current TFR of Hindus being substantially lower than Muslims is something that can’t really be ignored in the larger interest. Is this the solution that elected representatives should talk about? Absolutely not. Also, let me be a liberal for a moment. If all the imams and other religious leaders have freedom of expression, why doesn’t a Hindu sadhvi? I thought we were a nation that values equality. In all this talk of equality, I wonder the quantum of protest from the liberal community when Manmohan Singh said, “We will have to devise innovative plans to ensure that minorities, particularly the Muslim minority, are empowered to share equitably the fruits of development. These must have the first claim on resources”. I wonder if that statement was less damaging to the nation and its secular fabric than the Sandhvi’s comments.

One of the things that cost the BJP some votes in Delhi 2015 Vidhan Sabha elections is that the party became all about innocuous statements on Hinduism and delivered nothing as far as Hindutva was concerned. That is what is costing the BJP more than these statements.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee had unfortunately traded cultural nationalism for liberal appreciation, and paid the price for it in 2004. Anyone offering the same suggestion is repeating a Sudheendra Kulkarni on the Modi Government.

Vote shift from BJP to AAP owing to Hindutva swinging dicks.

Now, If we were to take this allegation seriously, the underlying assumption would be that staunch voters of the BJP who voted for them in hopes of development deserted the party and voted for the AAP because of, as Deb eloquently puts it, swinging dicks. Before I comment, I will present some numbers.

INC Stronghold constituencies

Number of votes in 2013

CHANDNI CHOWK180922633515312

Number of votes in 2015

CHANDNI CHOWK184691793036756

BJP Stronghold constituencies 

Number of votes in 2013

KRISHNA NAGAR692222607217498

Number of votes in 2015

KRISHNA NAGAR63642618965919

Now, a simple glance through the number of votes cast for the BJP in INC- and BJP strongholds itself refutes Deb’s premise. Except Najafgarh, in all strongholds the BJP has managed to either increase its voters, or get away with an exceptionally minor drop. So the premise that the BJP voters have shifted en masse to AAP, is a fallacy.

What is remarkable, however, that even in INC strongholds, the Congress voters have shifted en masse to the AAP. In Okhla, a traditional ideological stronghold of Congress and the JD(U,) they have magically managed to decimate themselves. Specifically in Okhla. Here’s the catch. Shoaib Iqbal who fought from the JD(U) in 2013 fought from the Congress this time and managed to marginally increase Congress’s vote share. The JD(U), however, in its stronghold did not field a candidate. no candidate in a constituency they used to win! This shifted its entire vote to the AAP. Whether this is a coincidence or a grand plan is irrelevant. But that the AAP is the ideological mirror of the Congress by design or purpose is certain. That makes the AAP victory a huge national event that can potentially affect politics on a national level, not just in Delhi.

Having said that, to imply that the BJP vote bank shifted en masse to the AAP is a fallacy of elephantine proportions. The AAP is the Congress mirror sans the dynasty. And to understand its victory, we need to understand how the Congress shifted its votes to the AAP and how the latter wooed the young, new voter. Not the ideological base of the BJP, which is by all means intact.

BJP, a Baniya party, lost its staunch Baniya voters to AAP

I’ll come to the ridiculous Baniya bashing in a moment. Before that, let me talk facts.

PREDOMINANT BANIYA CONSTITUENCIES (Number of Votes in 2013) Delhi Vidhan Sabha
Constituency       BJP      Congress     AAP                     BSP      JDU
ADARSH NAGAR3676525467268425640
SADAR BAZAR332833109434079
CHANDNI CHOWK1809226335153127032
MOTI NAGAR425992539326578
GANDHI NAGAR319364889716546

Number of votes in 2015 Delhi Vidhan Sabha

ConstituencyBJPCongress AAP BSPJDU
ADARSH NAGAR332851534154026679
SADAR BAZAR331921633167507
CHANDNI CHOWK1846917930367560
MOTI NAGAR45002611160223
GANDHI NAGAR434641622850946

The fact remains that the BJP has managed to increase the number of votes in its favour in all the Baniya-dominant constituencies. The vote swing in these constituencies has mainly happened from the Congress to AAP and perhaps of the new voter (aged 18 to 22) that accounts for the deficiency after voters migrated to the AAP.

Delhi saw many new voters in 2015 Vidhan Sabha elections. Now, let’s assume a new Baniya voter goes and casts her vote for AAP. Would we attribute that vote swing to the “disgruntled Baniya community” or the appeal that AAP has to the new voter?

Going by the numbers, it seems like the loyal voter base of BJP in Assembly is intact. The only logical explanation can be a swing of the neo voter that BJP failed to tap.

Ah! The draconian Baniya and how he was bashed.

Other than the electoral aspects, Deb has audaciously made certain distasteful and downright wrong allegations on the Baniya community. As a Baniya myself, I’m enraged enough to write a long winded article defending my community against this colossal stupidity.

These are people with narrow interests and a conflicted ethical construct and we hate paying taxes.

Other than reeking of the typical 1970s left-liberal nonsense, this statement is downright insulting. If we talk about the ethical construct, Baniyas have traditionally been traders with a strong code of traders conduct. We generally sell goods and services, not our souls. Maharaja Agrasen did penance so his entire community would prosper. He was known to stand up against animal slaughter which the community (and the BJP) opposes unequivocally. We are the main employment generators in the country and we treat our employees well. We value our families and our society. Our ethical construct Deb, is fine. I question yours for your questionable casteist comments.

As far as narrow interests are concerned, we are nationalists. We have our “tentacles” in every conceivable industry that runs the world. Not just the country. From production, to manufacturing to packaging to service industries. Not just business, we do exceedingly well in the professional streams as well. Ever wonder why so many Baniyas are Chartered Accountants and lawyers?

As far as limited interests and not paying taxes are concerned. Here’s an interesting list of the top 100 Marwari owned companies features in Forbes

Why don’t you, sir, calculate the quantum of taxes paid by these companies?

Consider this too, there are about 4.2 Million Baniyas in Uttar Pradesh and that Income Tax collected from UP averages Rs. 2964 Billion. You think if 4.2 million Baniyas refused to pay their taxes, the state would clock that average? No? I thought so.

They are all also devout Hindus, keeping utterly blameless people awake all night with their Vishal Bhagwati Jagrans (all-night musical devotional gatherings equipped with very powerful amplifiers; no one—and I mean no one—can sleep that night in that neighbourhood, unless you are stone deaf).

Yes. Our Jagrans can be a pain in the neck for our neighbours. But unless you are surrounded by only Baniyas who take turns every day 365 days a year doing jagrans and keeping you awake every single day, I think you should cut down on your complaining. When you complain about our Jagrans, you will be expected to complain about how loud certain other communities are multiple times a day and I don’t think you can do that. It’s our faith. We do it once in a while. Deal with it!

Their weddings are a huge urban traffic issue (I suffered through it night before last, travelling through Ghaziabad, a city right next to Delhi, and part of the National Capital Region), because the groom, on a horse or in a horse carriage, is accompanied by a band, and scores of relatives, friends, well-wishers and unconnected drunks, who dance the last mile, taking up half the road—even if it is part of the Golden Quadrilateral of highways—and then they are met by the bride’s party who dance with them, taking up the other half of the road, thus bringing the GDP to a halt (trucks carrying stuff have to wait for hours), seriously subverting citizen rights (I want to get home to my family, but I can’t because Mahesh is marrying Pinky), and possibly causing many deaths (why should ambulances have a privileged status?).

Yes. We love our weddings. We love our grooms on the horse. The band wallas love it (and get paid handsomely), our relatives love dancing like boneless amoebas, we welcome the unconnected drunks to dance with us because we aren’t arrogant morons and the brides party dances with us because they know their daughter will be treated well. You are entitled to crib about it. But make sure you crib about Ganesh Chaturthi, Eid, Namaaz on the roads, Durga Puja et all. If you can’t, leave us be. We contribute to the GDP heftily, and if it stops because of us for a few minutes, so be it.

Also sir, causing many deaths? The death rate per 100000 populations for road traffic accident has increased from 16.8 in 2009 to 18.9 in 2013. India accounts for about 10% road crash fatalities worldwide. That’s 10 per cent worldwide. I couldn’t really find any statistics titled “deaths due to Baniya baraats”. I would be incredibly obliged if you could send me a link.

Of course, Kejriwal hasn’t talked about the traders paying taxes, or about VAT. That would have scared the owners of Harbanslal Bangali Sweets, or Assured Male Child: Meet Dr Agarwal.

There are two issues that I have with this preposterous statement.

1. Deb just said that Kejriwal hasn’t spoken about traders paying taxes or VAT. If that’s the case, why did the BJP loyalist Baniyas vote for AAP? Considering we were only interested in evading taxes by not voting for the task master Kiran Bedi. (A premise I have proved incorrect of course)

 2. How in Satan’s name is taxes related to “Assured Male Child: Meet Dr. Agarwal”? If it isn’t related, was it only your casteist Baniya hate that compelled you to write this nonsense? Considering that the highest Baniya population of 4.5 Million is found in Rajasthan and the sex ratio there is 928 with an abysmal literacy rate of only 66.11% in contrast to a place like Chandigarh where the Baniya population is substantially low with a high literacy rate of 86.05% and a sex ratio of 818? Female Foeticide is a widespread social evil. It is a crying shame that you used it to spew venom against one particular community (without merit I might add).

The Kiran Bedi Factor 

Debs first mention of Kiran Bedi is when he says the following:

The car crash happened on one of Delhi’s broad avenues, when Kiran Bedi was selected as the Chief Minister designate. 2015 clashed with  1001, when Mahmud of Ghazni made his first successful foray into Hindustan. Did Kiran Bedi represent the 22nd century? Not really. If she represented anything, it would be efficiency, competence, a no-nonsense approach to administration. Which has been pretty much Narendra Modi’s theme as Prime Minister.

And then when he said:

The Baniyas don’t want a Kiran Bedi. She would crack down tight on Inspector Raj corruption, but she would also be in hot pursuit of sales tax. They don’t trust a sardarni who went to the extent of giving a parking ticket to India’s Prime Minister (Indira Gandhi) and lathi charging lawyers. In Delhi, lawyers are also traders, they just dress differently.

Now, what he has said is so riddled with contradictions that I don’t even know where to begin. Firstly, I don’t even know who he is referring to as Ghazni. Because if it’s Bedi, he wouldn’t later say that she represents efficiency, competence and a no nonsense approach. And if he in fact is, I wouldn’t be too surprised since generally people have a ridiculous habit of being in awe of the Muslim invaders.

Having said that, was Bedi a right choice for BJP? Perhaps not. She might have been had the elections not been delayed so much and Bedi had got more time to connect with the neo voters and BJP loyalists alike. She was perhaps bought in too late in the game. And her elevation as the CM Designate might have disgruntled some senior members in waiting. It was a calculated risk that clearly didn’t pay off as expected.

Disgruntled Central Government staffers

Now this is one point that I don’t totally disagree with. Yes, many staffers were use to lolling around in parks, harassing citizens for trivial jobs, passing the grief around and yes, accepting bribes too. Sri. Narendra Modi has changed that. He indeed has deprived many government employees of their “lolling on grass in winter sunshine”.

My only concern is, in a place like Delhi with over 1.2 crore voters, how much of an electoral impact would the staffers voting for the AAP really have? Considering that they aren’t first time voters and the BJP vote share stands intact, I can only assume that these staffers were either earlier voting for Congress and have now shifted to the AAP, or, voted for the AAP in 2013 in any way. Hence, this point in my very honest opinion doesn’t exactly provide a plausible explanation to the BJP loss.

Having said all of this, I’m dismayed to say that this article hasn’t managed to provide even one plausible reason for the poll debauchery that the BJP experienced in Delhi.

As an amateur and a staunch the BJP supporter, here are my pointers as to what could have gone wrong in Delhi for the BJP:

1. The delay in polling cost BJP dearly. It gave AAP ample time to campaign. Also gave the people enough time to forget the “Bhagauda Kejriwal” theatre.

2. Kiran Bedi was perhaps brought into the game a bit too late. She needed more time to connect with the BJP fence sitters and the neo voters. Also convince those who vote for Lok Sabha differently than they vote for Vidhan Sabha. Convince them that BJP would do as much good at the state level as at the national level.

3.  The MCD corruption and slow progress costed BJP dearly.

4. The development work that’s being done at the centre level is perhaps not being communicated to the nation appropriately. The opposition narrative is winning in this regard. The fact that inflation and food inflation is at an all time low. India is now officially the fastest growing economy etc is not reaching the last man on the ground.

5. The Hindutva plank is as important as the development plank. But BJP needs to control its motor mouths from making loud unnecessary statements and start the process on delivery of poll promises such as Ram Mandir, UCC etc. At least the discourse needs to start.

6. Imports from other parties costs the BJP. The average voter expected a “Party with a difference” and perhaps imports who are not ideologically rooted in the party hurt the party image.

7. Boots on the ground. BJP needs to mobilize its cadres to connect with the last Middle class and Low income group voter. Mann Ki Baat et all is great, but nothing replaces on ground contact with core voters.

8. The Main Stream Media is NEVER going to forward the BJP narrative. For example, BJP won a thumping majority in the Assam Civic Polls today. NOT A PEEP. BJP needs to stop falling for the MSM narrative and use alternate media more efficiently like it use to pre lok sabha.

9. Get out of the opposition mode. BJP needs to deliver on a few radical changes that it had promised its voters in essence. Perception matters. While working in silence for the country is excellent, the good needs to be communicated and few radical thoughts implemented to maintain perception.

10. Lastly, the BJP needs to deal with the fact that minorities are seldom going to vote for BJP. In its quest to get the minority vote, BJP shouldn’t alienate its Hindu vote bank. Remember, Lok Sabha 2014 was won based on Hindu consolidation of votes.

My final word to Mr. Deb. Sarcasm and retort is all well and good, but it has to be backed by facts to make an impact. Empty hate driven retort is baseless.

P.S. I will admit I am no psephologist. I’m only an average voter and a right wing nationalist.

Vande Mataram!

(Bias Declaration: Staunch BJP supporter and member. Unwavering loyalty to Sri. Narendra Modi. Nationalist)

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