In the present times, the Bhartiya Janata Party and the allies of the National Democratic Alliance govern 44 per cent of India’s territory and 49.6 per cent of its population. This has been the public discourse. Is this the only truth, or there are layers to it? There is an imbalance in BJP’s national vs regional popularity. However, the Modi Shah-led BJP has changed its game plan.
The evolution of Indian politics
In 1947, India gained its long-craved independence after the Britishers exited from India. Since then, the polity and politics of India have evolved drastically. Inheriting the legacy of the National Movement, Congress dominated the first few elections of independent India. It was a dominant party between 1947 and 1967, though it lost much of its sheen in the late 1960s. Ending the Congress’ hegemony, parties like the socialist party, Swatantra Party along with Janata Dal, Bhartiya Jana Sangha and Communist Parties came up.
Around the same time, regional parties were established that still enjoy a firm hold over their own zones of influence. Today, while the BJP governs 49 per cent of the population, it is still not a contender in many states as it has not been able to put up a fight in front of regional parties.
BJP- A national party competing with national entities
PM Narendra Modi’s meteoric rise in 2014 reduced Congress to rubble, as the electoral number was reduced to below 50. This was at the centre. The NDA alliance did not halt here, the BJP along with its allies went on snatching the bastions of Congress, be it Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttarakhand, or Madhya Pradesh among others.
From Maharashtra in the West to Tripura in North-East, the saffron party has been expanding its horizon on the cost of Congress. Along with Congress, the Left parties also lost ground.
BJP surrendered before the regional parties
The Bhartiya Janata Party may have kicked out Congress from its impregnable fortresses, but the BJP could not win over the regional parties, barring a few countable exceptions. The NDA alliance tried to make its foray into the much-ignored North-East allied with the regional parties and now has its government in all most every state. The formula applied here is snatching the regional parties from the folds of Congress.
The same alliance fails in the South, except in Karnataka, where it defeated Congress. Be it Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh or Telangana, in every state BJP is insignificant in terms of electoral strength and the power resides with regional leaders, like Stalin, Vijayan, Reddy and KCR respectively. In Jharkhand too, BJP lost to the regional Jharkhand Mukti Morcha
Here’s why BJP did not stand a chance before regional masters
So, what is it like? Has the BJP failed in understanding the local politics and the issues of these states? Or the BJP, being a national party could not establish a connection with the locals? Well, the truth is entirely different.
The regional parties ruled through a code that none could crack, the ‘code of Freebies’. Every regional party banks on freebies, be it granting loan waivers, free transport, or distributing scooters, laptops, cycles or mixer grinders, and Arvind Kejriwal is not the only culprit.
Regional parties have been banking on freebies to woo the voters of the state, and this is how the regional parties have turned their particular states into impregnable fortresses.
Modi-Shah’s BJP has cracked the code
Freebies have taken a prominent place in India’s electoral politics. Despite being aware of the fact that freebies will put an additional burden on the exchequer, regional parties have been competing against each other in the run-up to the elections by announcing a string of freebies to woo the voters.
However, PM Modi has rung the death knell for regional parties thriving on freebies. The day PM Modi talked about the Revadi culture, the signal was clear. PM Modi has called upon the Indians to say a clear-cut no to the ones distributing freebies. PM Modi said, “The followers of ‘Revadi culture’ will never build expressways, airports and defence corridors.” And this is how the regional parties will meet their destined fate and will soon turn into history.
Modi-Shah’s BJP has hit the hammer where it hurts the most on ‘Freebies’, an end to freebies will mark the end of regional parties, simultaneously marking the saffronising of the states.
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