Maj. Gen. S. C. N. Jatar, Retd
Once you hear the details of victory, it is hard to distinguish it from defeat – Jean-Paul Sartre
I ventured to
predict on May 15 to a few close friends that the UPA
or the NDA would form the government on their own without going down on their
knees before either the Left,
I based my assessment on the credo of divisive politics, which has now become the strategy for most political parties. What the Moguls practiced and the English perfected; ‘divide & rule’, is the slogan of the politicians. Thus originates divisive politics, transforming into vote-bank ‘isms’ – secularism and communalism (includes casteism). This situation has created a crisis of identity in the Indian voter. It is difficult to say whether vote-bank politics resulted in the fragmentation of Indian polity based on religion and caste or it was the cause of it.
‘Youthful image’, ‘admiration for Rahul Gandhi’, ‘hate speech of Varun Gandhi’, ‘Advani a bad choice’, ‘personalised & negative campaign by Modi’, ‘development plank” etc are nebulous, ill-defined and mostly personality based assessments. Both UPA & NDA played divisive politics nurturing vote-bank secularism & vote-bank communalism. The NDA, especially BJP, did it most brazenly and audaciously, and lost. The UPA, especially the Congress, did it subtly and won!
I must sound a note of caution that the conclusions of my analysis destroy two long-standing myths i.e. (1) Wisdom and the propensity of the Indian voter to know what is good for the country and (2) the Indian politician has national interest at heart. To put it bluntly, Indian democracy will mature only if the gullible Indian public becomes aware of the games that our politicians play.
There was a decrease in BJP vote share of 3.32 percent to about 18. It lost only 22 seats from 2004. The Congress vote share was 30 %, an increase of only 1.99 percent over 2004. The combined vote share of the two main national parties was 48.69 %, which decreased by only 1.33 percent. Equations, therefore, have remained largely the same; small loss for the BJP in the vote-share and seats and disproportionate gains to the Congress vis-ŕ-vis its vote share. There is no revolutionary change.
The Raison d’ętre of Political Parties
Our political parties have always used devious ‘means’ to acquire power under the guise of doing good to the nation. They have no regrets if it divides the country in the bargain. If the parties have to field criminals to access their vote banks, then too there are no regrets.
Publicly candidates stress on ‘development’ but one-on-one, they acknowledge that their survival depends primarily on ‘caste equations’, secondarily on ‘religious inclinations’ and lastly on party politics. As for ‘development’, Daily ‘Sakal’ from Pune reported unusual similarities between the 2004 & 2009 manifestos of the winning candidate!
parties take advantage of lack of political awareness of the common voter, and
correctly assess where the weakness of the Indian voter lies. Generally, Indians are unaware of the nuances
of politics and games that the politicians play. Even educated Indians are not aware of
Chinese manipulations to isolate
The UPA directed its energies to woo the minority communities (especially the Muslims and the Christians) and its allies exploited caste loyalties. Both the UPA, led by the Congress, and the BJP-led NDA had precipitated a situation where the Congress mainly projected itself as looking after the interests of the minority communities against the ‘atrocities’ committed by the BJP.
galvanising this crisis of identity, the UPA established Sachar Commission,
gave state-level scholarships to minorities identified at the national-level
(for Muslims, Christians, Parsis and Sikhs excluding Hindus and Jains even when
in minority in certain states), extended reservations to Muslims, increased the
Hajj subsidy, granted subsidy to Christians visiting Bethlehem, etc. During 2005-06,
political ploy was to encourage Maharashtra Navnirman Sena to divide Shiv Sena
vote bank, because of which the Congress literally wiped out Shiv Sena and BJP
from Mumbai, Nashik and Pune, in spite of losing 4 % of its vote share. The nation had to pay heavily in terms of
destroying the inclusive Indian culture and unity. Congress ‘high command’, which watched
merrily when the
propensity to ignore illegal migration from
The BJP continued its strategy of minority bashing through its proxies, particularly in Orissa and Karnataka. It appears that the BJP needs a ‘trigger’ e.g. Godhra train burning by Muslims or the killing of a Swami in Orissa, to run amok against the minorities. BJP unduly converted the Ram Setu and Amarnath shrine issues into religious ones. The affidavit of the UPA government denying the existence of Lord Ram helped both the UPA and NDA. The DMK patriarch even said, “Who is this Ram? Which engineering college did he graduate from?” UPA constituents did not denounce the crude and unsavoury remarks of Karunanidhi.
What were the Voters looking for & what was Irrelevant?
The common voter faced an acute crisis of identity and was eagerly looking for a party that would provide him or her, an identity while fulfilling fundamental necessities of life (called ‘development’ by most analysts!), which do not exist even after 62 years of independence. The voter was NOT looking for corruption, security or foreign relations. Consider a few events on the eve of polling: Letting off Quatrochhi, siphoning of US $ 120 million in the Indo-Israeli missile deal, bare minimum cooperation from Pakistan on 26/11 investigation, and the Satyam scandal (largest since independence with involvement of politicians & bureaucrats).
Religion and caste were uppermost in the voters’ minds followed by ‘development’, that is, the fundamental necessities for sustenance; e.g. drinking water, electricity, sanitation and mobility (public transport).
What was Media or Opinion Makers saying Before the Results?
The media reflected the editorial policy. The media based its assessments not only on the prejudices that they have carried all along but also on 2004 results. For instance, everyone took it for granted that the Left would again be the fulcrum on which the next government would revolve.
Every one criticised Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, National Old Age Pension Scheme, National Maternity Benefit Scheme, Mid-Day Meal and Integrated Children Development Scheme, etc. The ire was that not even 10 paisa out of the Rupee reached the target group.
Surprisingly, none saw Mamata Bannerjee’s ‘strike’ at ‘development’ (read Nano) overtaking the Left vote-bank of Bangladeshi illegal migrants. The voters did not take kindly to Karat’s “pursuit of the Third Front chimera, whose defining feature was that all its non-Left constituents had once been the BJP’s allies …” Vote-bank secularism did matter after all but none saw it!
Nitish won the
mandate quietly, diligently and systematically.
Traditionally, the post-Mandal politics of
The media had gone agog criticising everyone including the Indian Navy for failing not only to prevent the 26/11 attack but also disapproving of the response. There was an outcry against the National Security Advisor Narayanan for his lacklustre response (he did not abandon his dinner appointment even after hearing of the attack), there were TV flashes of Maharashtra Chief Minister Deshmukh visiting the Taj Hotel with his actor-son and a film director. Crisis Management Group was not in continuous session once there was confirmation about the terrorist attack.
played up Modi’s achievement in the ‘development’ of
media played down the rank communal statement of Omar Abdullah
in Parliament at the time of the vote on the Nuclear Deal with the
What are the Media or Opinion Makers saying now?
the election results, the media is highlighting the fact that Modi has actually
lost the vote share by 3.5 % in
The print media now say, “Left-goaded policies paid UPA rich dividends”, meaning the very schemes criticised earlier actually contributed to Congress’ success.
Everyone now seems to have forgotten Nitish Kumar’s ‘lower backward’ policy!
take on terrorism now is, “Pranab hard line on
the Congress-NCP government had not mollycoddled the
Pune, the main candidates were from the Congress (Brahmin), BJP (Maratha),
Commissioner SY Quraishi told Karan Thapar on
 'A K Antony most likely to be the next PM',
 Vernier, Gilles, “Vote share of national parties actually slipping”, jansamachar.net IANS
 The Telegraph,
 Website of Union Ministry of Home Affairs
 Singh, K. C. “Candle Burning at Three
 Ganguli, Amulya, “Driven by Dogma”, Times
 (Congress) owes its resurgence to Slew of
Social Programmes Taken”, Times of
 “Pranab hard line
 “Opinion and Exit Polls Manipulated – EC”,