The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), under the leadership of Amit Shah-Narendra Modi combine, seems to have squandered the massive mandate that NDA got in the 2014 general elections. The Uttar Pradesh by-poll results ring an alarm for the BJP as political landscape in the crucial state has seen a dramatic change just within a year after the party returned to power after a gap of 14 years.
Winning the by-elections of Gorakhpur constituency, the bastion of the BJP which the chef minister, Yogi Adityanath, has represented for five consecutive terms and Phulpur, the constituency of Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya that too in a state from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was elected to the Lok Sabha was a matter of prestige for BJP, but the saffron party seems to have taken its prowess for granted.
Ever since it came to power at the centre, Modi-Shah combine has been extremely busy in building a narrative that world’s largest democracy is inching towards becoming ‘opposition mukt Bharat’ first Congress mukt and then left mukt and so on. Right from the day one, the BJP and its leaders activated its dirty tricks department to run in its full capacity, using social media and all opportunity to discredit every institution, erstwhile national leaders and every ideology other than that of the RSS-BJP, building a political narrative that it’s ‘Modi-ism’ everywhere. Over the last three-and-a-half years, one wonders whether the BJP has drifted from its ideologue Deendayal Upadhyay’s “Ekathma Manav Darshan” or the philosophy of integral humanism to “Ek Manav–Darshan” the philosophy of just one individual.
The BJP leadership will pass the buck of its defeat on Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath and other state leaders or make some politically appropriate noises to insulate Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But, UP by-polls and other developments in the NDA TDP jumping out of its bandwagon and union minister Ramvilas Paswan and his party LJP advising BJP to go for a course correction is a clear writing on the wall for the saffron party and its top leadership. Many small parties, which are now with the NDA, are highly reliable weathercocks that know which way the wind is changing. NDA allies seem to have realised that the weather is turning.
Modi’s all poll promises that looked tangible such as two crore jobs and so on vanished into thin air. The BJP is now focussing on so-called achievements, which are mostly intangible, when they say that the ‘power and pride’ of Indian passport has now increased as it was never in the past when the farmers are in distress, youth struggling for employment as job opportunities declined and even the economy is yet to recover from to shock of demonetisation and hasty implementation of GST.
For the BJP, the road to 2019 is bumpy and is very difficult to negotiate. The change in political circumstances, coupled with regional satraps asserting in many states mainly in the South, would make the next Parliamentary polls more interesting. Assembly polls in Karnataka, followed by polls in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, will be the semi-final of 2019 and a referendum on the Modi government.