PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: Narendra Modi‘s victory has deep-frozen the political discourse. The pseudo-nationalists are acting as if the kingdom is already theirs—for keeps. And the pseudo-secularists are acting as if the world is about to come to an end for royalty of the Janpath variety.
Meanwhile, breathless TV anchors are looking forward to their annual holiday in Goa.
Make no mistake, Modi won and won big. He won on his own terms, bucking all the usual cliches like anti-incumbency, caste, dissidence. But, even five days after the verdict, we are still to receive the clear-eyed analysis that we used to in the past.
Result: one side is talking as if for the first time since the dawn of human civilisation, voters like progress and development. And the other side is acting as if they didn’t know this at all.
Since the pseudo-national camp is punch drunk to even bother with the details, it is left to the pseudo-secularists to attempt a dissection of what happened in Gujarat and what it means.
CNN-IBN editor-in-chief Rajdeep Sardesai has exploded some myths. He writes: The BJP actually did much better in the non-riot affected areas of Kutch, Saurashtra and South Gujarat than it did five years ago. The BJP won 12 of the 13 scheduled caste reserved seats. The party performed impressively in the tribal belt of South Gujarat, while its tally actually went down in Ahmedabad city, it performed strongly across rural Gujarat, including those districts which conventional wisdom suggests have been left out of the vibrant Gujarat platform.
“In each of the last four Assembly elections, the BJP’s support has kept increasing, from 42 per cent in 1995 to 50 per cent now, which in a two-party state ensures comfortable majorities. With the exception of the 2004 Lok Sabha election, the BJP has dominated every election in the state over the last 12 years, including at the panchayat level. This suggests the emergence of a saffron bastion, not too dissimilar to the Left Front in West Bengal,” writes Sardesai.
Vidya Subrahmaniam in today’s Hindu, has attempted a bit of number-crunching. And what she establishes is that the Gujarat election wasn’t the cakewalk it is made out to be for Modi (a point Mallika Sarabhai made on churumuri yesterday). But the Congress was lucky too.
The BJP won only one seat out of the 116 it secured for the first time. In all, writes Subrahmaniam, 48 seats were won with a margin of under 5,000 votes; 20 of them under 2,000 votes. But it is not as if only the BJP benefited from this, the Congress did too. While the BJP won 24 of these seats, the Congress won 23.
Shabnam Hashmi, the
wife sister of the slain activist Safdar Hashmi, has been circulating a note in the pseudo-secular camp. She writes:
“While the whole media except a handful of journalists is under the spell of Modi’s magic, it is important to register the fact that, for example, in Gandhinagar, though 81,864 people voted for the BJP, there were 78,116 people who voted against BJP and Modi.”
Indeed, if you look at the table below of 33 constituencies, being circulated by Hashmi, you can come away with three conclusions. One, the race was certainly closer than we have been told. Two, in many constituencies, a third candidate or an independent (or the two together) secured more votes than the difference between the BJP and Congress. And three, Mayawati‘s BSP is making far greater inroads than either camp, or the media, will acknowledge.
1. RAJPIPLA: BJP 37722, Congress 37091, Difference: 631, BSP 2807
2 . MANDAL: BJP 34843, Congress 34166, Difference: 677, Independent 3818
3. KHAMBHALIA: BJP 40358, Congress 39560, Difference: 798, Independent 4275
4. KANKREJ: BJP 37930, Congress 37090, Difference 840, BSP 28934
5. JAMNAGAR: BJP 33021, Congress 31941, Difference 1080, Independent 1098
6. KADI: BJP 65835, Congress 64508, Difference 1327, Independent 3848
7. GADHADA : BJP 50579, Congress 49152, Difference 1427, BSP1478
8. SURAT CITY: BJP 39607, Congress 37908, Difference 1699, RJD 2584
9. ANAND: BJP 63745, Congress 61975, Difference 1770, Independent 12134
10. KALOL: BJP 27565, Congress 25255, Difference 1884, Independents 1427 + 1016
11 . CHIKHLI: BJP 59471, Congress 57204, Difference 2267, BSP 2708
12 . SIDHPUR: BJP 52610, Congress 50181, Difference 2429, Independent 2694
13. MANGROL: BJP 48256, Congress 45625, Difference 2631, BSP 3389, Independent 2782
14. BOTAD: BJP 69662, Congress 66474, Difference 3188, BSP 2134, Independent 3188
15. VIRAMGAM: BJP 47643, Congess 44327, Difference 3316, BSP 3286, Independent 3364
16. MANSA: BJP 44381, Congress 41011, Difference 3370, BSP 10478
17. GANDHINAGAR: BJP 81864, Congress 78116, Difference 3748, BSP 1766, Independent 5128
18. RAKHIAL: BJP 53993, Congress 50048, Difference 3945, BSP 1395, Independent 1428
19. DASADA: BJP 38174, Congress 34108, Difference 4066, BSP 3898, Independent 2408
20. SIHAR: BJP 50756, Congress 46638, Difference 4118, BSP 3501, Independent 2973
21. AMRELI: BJP 48767, Congress 44578, Difference 4189, Independents 3143 + 1397
22. VISAVADAR: BJP 38179, Congress 33950, Difference 4229, BSP 3399, Independent 2074
23. UPLETA: BJP 36602, Congress 31917, Difference 4685, BSP 1946, SP 4141
24. SOMNATH: BJP 61233, Congress 56004, Difference 5229, BSP 7099
25. BAYAD: BJP 40395, Congress 34711, Difference 5684, BSP 3107, Independent 3569
26. CHHOTA UDAIPUR: BJP 44422, Congress 38304, Difference 6118, Independent 8056
27. KALAWAD: BJP 39497, Congress 33225, Difference 6272, BSP 3449, Independent 3693
28. WADHAWAN: BJP 47466, Congress 40564, Difference 6902, Independent 23261
29. DANGS: BJP 56860, Congress 48977, Difference 7883, Independents 5010 + 4446
30. KUTIYANA: BJP 37130, Congress 27980, Difference 9150, BSP 3064, Independent 8060
31. VADGAM: BJP 50481, Congress 40776, Difference 9705, Independent 16372
32. ABDASA: BJP 39004, Congress 28985, Difference 10019, BSP 12397
33. CAMBAY: BJP 50163, Congress 40086, Difference 10077, BSP 3081, Independent 8684
We cannot make a big deal of the margin of the BJP victory in these constituencies. In a first-past-the-post system, electoral fortunes have been decided by single-digit margins, and then tilted again by a recount. So, the lotus bloomed whichever way you look at it. Still, there is a case for a sober-eyed view of elections and results than the puerile propaganda we have been dished out so far by both sides.
There is nothing to suggest that if the BSP or the independent/s were not there, the Congress would have triumphed in these constituencies. And there is no reason why they should have paved the way for the Congress. Still, as an arithmetical exercise, the numbers are interesting because they point to something we are not being told by the mainstream media which seems so in love of its own creations: “Moditva”, a national role for Modi, and what happens to L.K. Advani.
James “Scotty” Preston, the former New Delhi correspondent of the New York Times who became the executive editor of the paper, writes in his memoirs that he always preferred not to predict which way an election would go. “An election is a secret communion between a voter and democracy.”
Both the pseudo-secularists and the pseudo-nationalists seem to be ignoring that cardinal piece of advice.
As Harish Khare wrote in The Hindu, “In a democracy an electoral defeat is always a sobering moment, but it would be doubly counter-productive for the Congress and the other secular forces to feel overawed by Narendra Modi’s victory… The Sunday win does not necessarily endow any kind of ideological legitimacy to Modi’s voice nor does it provide a licence to communal forces or even political respectability to his message outside of Gujarat.”