Bhartiya Janta Party: Successful at Election, Failure at Governance
The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has yet again proved its prowess by winning the Bihar Elections in what was largely being seen as a Mahagathbandhan victory this time. It is even more an occasion for celebration because BJP is now the party with more bargaining strength in Bihar’s NDA Alliance. But the question that concerns us the most is- Does BJP excel in governance the same way as they win elections, or is it the other way round?
Performance in the last one year:
For that, we need to have a relook over how the BJP has performed in the last one year. Mishandling of the pandemic, migrant distress, economic collapse, tensions on the China Border and what not, the year has been the worst for Modi led government with countless failures. A U.S. based global agency remarked that India’s economic condition is worse than it has ever been before and it is mainly because of the government’s failure in imposing a planned nationwide lockdown. Even though Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a relief package promising free food for 800 million migrant workers, one out of five workers, allegedly, did not receive any sort of assistance. To talk specifically about the state of Bihar where BJP has been in the coalition with Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United (JDU), the situation of migrant workers has been one of the worst in the country. So many of such workers had to come back on foot to their home state-Bihar when the sudden lockdown was announced and they got no help from the governments. Ever since they returned, they have been jobless and have in a way, added to the already high unemployment rates in the state of Bihar.
BJP- the only ray of hope:
Despite all of these failures, and a visible anti-incumbency against Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, the NDA alliance managed to win the elections, all thanks to the ‘Modi Magic’. The general public, even though seemed very much angry with Nitish Kumar, their love for Modi and the BJP looked endless. Despite years of false promises, massively high unemployment rates and lack of development in Bihar, there is still a ray of hope left among the voters of Bihar. Yes, that is from the BJP, they still believe in that cliched phrase called- Modi hain toh mumkim hain. To talk about the global sphere, when NDA came into power in 2014, Modi was the world’s second-most popular leader, according to Facebook, and recently, he also emerged as the most-followed head of a state in the world on Instagram, reaching more than 30 million followers. Thus, there is not even an iota of doubt over Modi Ji’s popularity, nationally as well as internationally. The more than ever weakened opposition has also been adding up to Modi’s stature. The high levels of trust in Modi and the limited trust in Gandhi seems to be working in the BJP’s favour. Modi’s image as a clean risk-taking leader and the lack of a credible national alternative seems to have ensured that the BJP’s appeal remains intact, even in adverse circumstances.
Success in the elections:
The Prime Minister finds popularity in the weakest and the strongest sections of the society alike. Owing to such unconditional support, in most of the state elections, the BJP has emerged as the real winner. The largest political party in the world, it seems, has found out the easy solution to win the elections. The way they use the social media for campaigning, the way they utilise their influential leaders in rallies, and even the way they bring up national issues like abrogation of Article 370 in state elections, everything adds up to their final tally on the day of counting. Be it the Lok Sabha elections, Vidhan Sabha elections or even a municipal election, the BJP uses all the stature of Prime Minister Modi. With campaigns, slogans, advertisements against oppositions, and establishing friendly relations with swing and regional parties, the process starts well in advance. Further on, the consolidation of upper caste Hindu votes help BJP wherever they fight the elections while the opposition parties have largely been unsuccessful in capitalising on their specific vote banks. Even the Bihar elections saw parties like AIMIM damaging the vote bank of Congress which implies that the Muslim vote bank of Congress is not as strong as it used to have been earlier. Even Chirag Paswan’s LJP fought hard against the Nitish led JDU and played the role of a vote-katwa as it is colloquially said. The BJP, on the other hand, came out to be a strong party undeterred by the opposition and, that obviously is not a new phenomenon. Over the past few years, we have actually gotten used to such victories. All this has come as a reward for running a party open to dynamic reforms and one that knows the pulse of the masses. It has been six years since the rise of the BJP, and they have won the Lok Sabha elections twice in 2014 and 2019, and also formed governments in major states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh.
Failed Governance Model:
The BJP’s ability to win the elections cannot be questioned anymore, because it has been tested time and again. However, what can be questioned is their governance. Has it been that good to win them elections even in the time of a pandemic? Certainly not. To summarise last 6 years of the Modi government, we have had a failed demonetisation, ill-planned introduction of GST, rising tensions on the borders with China and Pakistan, poor economy and increased poverty. This government has actually been good at everything but governance. Even the BJP ruled states have done so miserably that we see them hiding coronavirus cases in these unprecedented times. The Yogi led Uttar Pradesh government’s handling of the Hathras Horror is the most recent instance of its failed governance. The withdrawal of general consent to C.B.I. by the opposition ruled states point to the lack of trust states possess in the central government.
Moreover, the usage of communal forces by the BJP has resulted in a lot of mob lynchings, and a steady rise in polarising posts on social media. The party has been instrumental in devising a kind of populist politics which allows for hate speech to thrive and even get endorsed in public places. A new dimension has been added to the politics which is based upon religion rather than development. The BJP’s greed of capturing power has become so evident with time that they have brought their petty politics even in the local municipal polls of Hyderabad. Irrelevant issues, not centric to the city of Hyderabad are being take up by the BJP leaders and leaders like Yogi and Nadda have been called to deliver communal speeches in order to further the majoritarian agenda.
Furthermore, almost all the major policies of the national government have been carried out under full secrecy. There is literally no transparency over the policies, no room for consensus and debate, and barely any accountability over ill actions. These are all indicators of a haphazard democratic nation even more so in an age-old democracy like ours. Arguments, discussions, criticism, and debates are to be given the most superior place in a democratic nation, and they must precede any proposed law or policy. Yes, it is true that some of the actions having strategic importance require maintaining secrecy like when the government decides for strikes against the terrorism. However, abrogation of a provision as important as Article 370 must have been done only after healthy discussions and debates in the Parliament. The people of Kashmir valley itself were not considered by the government before taking such harsh step in fulfilment of its ludicrous manifesto. Governance in actual terms should be strenuous and not just commanding of petty orders. The reason why democracy is considered better than other forms of government is because it allows for the say of each and every individual in decision making process.
The schemes of national interest, as they so claim, have been seen as possessing more of the anti-national elements in them. The Citizenship Amendment Act, the draconian amendments in Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, the farm bills, all of them have been viewed as hurting the interests of the nation. Our secular constitution has been overlooked, healthy dissent has been criminalised and farmers have been exposed. Is it what a mature government with focus on good governance does? The answer is a big NO. Most importantly, as I am writing this Article on November 26- The Constitution Day, the BJP government in the state of Haryana is snatching away the farmers’ constitutional right of doing peaceful protests against the farm bills. It has been constantly ignoring the concerns of the farmers and is using violent means to suppress their voices. What remains to be seen is whether the government will actually give up on its ego and finally listen to the farmers’ demands. My intuition says NO!
2nd Year, B.A. LLB. (Hons.)
The W.B. National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata