Lessons for both BJP and Congress

 Sarbananda Sonowal BJP CM to be sworn in today Photo – FB) 

Sane advise for all parties, churches!

Amit Kushari, in The Statessman, 24 May, 2016

(Note: “Primum vivere, secundum philosophare.” What this Latin proverb  says is this: First thing for any one is to live, to survive in existence! Only then one can philosophize, sing, dance and do all the rest. And to survive among wild animals dying of hunger, thirst, heat, cold and other basic needs, is to make sure that their hunger and thirst are quenched first, so that they don’t pounce on you to devour you to fill their stomachs. When applied to electoral vote-bank politics. Elected governments survive at the mercy of their voters. It means, that those who rule at the  will and pleasure of people are to be assured of their basic needs and demands first to get their continued support. That is what two Ladies, also called endearingly, Amma, Didi, Matriarchs, have been doing in West Bengal and Tamilnadu. Women as rulers of the Kitchen know well that the way to the heart is through the stomach – feed well to capture hearts and through hearts also minds of the general public through well-fare measures which you may derogatively call “freebies”(not deserving) but very much needed for survival of the elected. It is this lesson that the  Modi-BJP government has not learned. They are doing just the opposite of what they promised during election campaign – to fill people’s bank accounts with lakhs of rupees from the crores of black money  brought back from abroad. Instead they are now emptying the little they have in their accounts through exorbitant taxes hiked every other day even when petrol-diesel prices are at rock bottom in the world. In short Modi government should stop using people as their ATM card to  squeeze money out from the plate of Aam Admi for gala spending at dinner parties  and eye-catching world tours which brings in nothing investment-wise. To stay in power successfully they have to reduce taxes and increase subsidies imitating Didi and Amma.

          This applies also to churches, which are carbon copies of political parties both at home and  abroad. The Philippines is said to be Asia’s bastion of Catholicism. Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippine President-elect blastsed yesterday country’s dominant Roman Catholic church as “the most hypocritical institution” and accused some of its bishops of corruption for allegedly “Thriving on public money while poor rot”  and asking favours from politicians, including him. Are bishops in India listening? They never listen to anything except to paid flatterers  at silver jubilees,  birth day, feast day parties and James Kottorkeep their mouths shut to live blissfully in their self-manufactured heavens of light and sound and a religion of rituals. In the aftermath of deadly silence on Cuddapah bishop kidnap and torture it is not likely to happen in India.  God save the church in India, if he has one. James kottoor, editor)

The Bharatiya Janata Party has made big inroads into a non-Hindi speaking state like Assam. This is indeed very creditable and praiseworthy for the BJP which is usually perceived as a political party for people who speak as their mother tongue Hindi or any language closely allied with Hindi, such as Punjabi, Gujarati or Marathi. Not that this is for the first time; earlier the BJP had formed a government in Karnataka.

However, the victory in Assam is very significant because Assam has a 35 per cent concentration of Muslims and everybody knows that Muslims usually vote for such candidates who have the highest chance to defeat the BJP. To carve out a majority of seats in the Assembly from only 65  per cent of the population is awe-inspiring and the credit for this will naturally go to PM Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and all those policy planners who had finalised strategies with the two local parties of Assam, the Ahom Gana Parishad and the Bodo Peoples Front.

The consolidation of these three parties, BJP, AGP and BPF made decision making much easier for the Assamese Hindus and seven out of 10 voted for this BJP + combination. Another important factor was that BJP had projected Sarbananda Sonowal as the CM candidate and so the people had no confusion about who to vote for. 

The credit for BJP’s victory also goes to the  mother-son duo in the Congress who could not take correct political decisions. They did not agree to shift the octogenarian CM, Tarun Gogoi who had completed 15 years in office and the people must have got tired of him although he was a popular leader. Also they failed to come to a seat understanding with AIUDF to prevent a split of the Muslim votes

BJP’s performance in the other four states was less than mediocre, if not disappointing. In Tamil Nadu it failed to win a single seat, in Kerala it won one seat only and in Bengal only three seats, although BJP had put up candidates in each and every seat. Although they tried so hard they could get only 12 per cent votes in Kerala. In West Bengal, after fighting in 294 seats, their vote percentage came down from 17 to 10 per cent. This is not a good sign and policy makers in BJP need to worry about this.

The real causes for this decline of BJP need to be found out.  If the real causes are not identified and correctives taken, the BJP will start going down hill starting from the Punjab and UP elections next year. BJP leaders should not be too enthusiastic about the victory in Assam, because the situation in Assam is exceptional. The Hindus of Assam always felt suffocated by Bangladeshi Muslim immigrants and the Congress government did little for them because they always had to appease Muslims for their existence.

In other states, BJP will be .judged by the performance of the Central government in the last two years. PM Modi has not been able to fulfil most of his promises to the people. Inflation could not be controlled and black money could not be brought back. Petrol and diesel prices are increasing although in the world market fuel prices are at a record low. The government is apparently collecting money for so called economic development, taxing the common man.

Numerous taxes have been imposed on the common man and they are not happy with the Centre. People are saying that the NDA government is using the common man as an ATM card. Whenever they need money they squeeze him. The big leaders in BJP must remember that Boyle’s Law of Physics applies in public life also. If pressure is increased, volume shrinks to that extent. If taxation pressure is increased on the people, the electoral volume i.e. the number of votes of the ruling party will be diminished proportionately. If taxes are doubled  the number of votes would be halved….that is Boyle’s Law.

All popular leaders like Jayalalitha, Mamata Banerjee, Arvind Kejriwal and Nitish Kumar are aware of Boyle’s Law and that is why they are so successful in electoral wars. They know that  they have to reduce taxes and increase subsidies. Worrying too much about long-term economic development and national economy doesn’t pay in our system of politics. One has to move very slowly and cautiously in taxing the public so that they do not even realise that they are being taxed. The leaders must realise that they can do something good for the country only if their government survives and escapes the wrath of the people.

On the other hand the Congress must take all steps to prevent the BJP and the AAP from dislodging them in the Hindi speaking areas. They should not look like a dynastic party and should make immediate changes at the top level. Already some good signals for the Congress have started coming from municipal elections in Gujarat and Delhi. These good signals are coming for the Congress primarily because of the wrong policies of the Centre’s Finance ministry. The Congress as well as the Aam Aadmi Party should grab this opportunity and highlight BJP’s failures.(The writer, a retired IAS officer, was formerly Financial Commissioner, Jammu and Kashmir. He can be reached at amitkus@hotmail.com) 

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