The exit polls for the state elections in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have a common thread running through them and have defied the traditional explanations of divisions within the polity in voting patterns that have, in the past, resulted in fractured positions allowing for coalitions of disparate political entities which enforce the status quo. This vote, judging from the exit polls, is firmly against the appalling status quo at the Centre under Manmohan Singh and the Congress that has plagued India.
Welfare schemes are what governments are meant to ensure for the poor and the less privileged. Votes are no longer secured by implementing such schemes because they are a part of what a government must do while in office. It is when the wealthy and the privileged corporate sector gets subsidized electricity, interest-free loans and land at throwaway prices from the State that it is a true ‘sop’ and ‘dole’ which governments indulge in, at the cost of the people, leading to bad maths and bad practice in business. The United Progressive Alliance government led many welfare initiatives over the nine years of its reign and the people of India expected it to abide by and deliver on those commitments. However, the non-action at the level of governance, the failure to rewrite the operating manual, the ignoring of cries for a reinvention of mindset, and the inability to engage with the diverse aspirations of a new and changed India, have led the Congress towards defeat.
Sheila Dikshit did wonders for Delhi, transforming it into a metropolis. In the course of the 15 years she ruled, this city became the fountainhead of the cultural complexities of this sub-continent. What killed the possibility of her fourth term — apart from the anti-incumbency that comes from being in office for 15 years — were the spiralling price-rise of essentials that had to do with the Central government’s failure of policy, a comatose Central government in Delhi sitting on her territory, a young party saying we have had enough of this so let’s fight it, and a Narendra Modi-led resurgent Bharatiya Janata Party as the national alternative. To say that the two are not linked is to be in denial about the shifting sands of Indian politics. It is the same despair over the continuance of status-quo politics that has affected the Congress in Madhya Pradesh, where Jyotiraditya Scindia was sent too late. He was a victim of the congenital ineptitude of the Congress, but, despite that, made a substantive impact.
In Rajasthan, Vasundhara Raje began campaigning for her comeback in the early part of this year and continued relentlessly, following a carefully crafted plan, which has led her to a possible victory, as the exit polls suggest. She was regaining lost ground as she covered many miles across Rajasthan. The unprecedented Modi rally in Jaipur helped in consolidating her rising fortunes. The Congress, on the other hand, following on the heels of Rahul Gandhi’s dismissal of the ordinance to protect tainted politicians, did the reverse of what he ostensibly stood for and distributed tickets to all kinds of undeserving entities, thinking that the electorate can continue to be fooled. In Chhattisgarh, that same arrogance of leadership has destroyed the grand old but fast fading party.
The Indian people are clearly voting for Action, with a capital A. Incompetent governance and the status quo will be rejected at the hustings. On one end is Narendra Modi and on the other, a sheer vacuum. The Congress talks of a grand plan that will kick in for the general elections, but alas, the juggernaut against them is rolling and appears to be unstoppable this time round. The pundit of the campaign strategy for the Congress has failed badly, possibly irreversibly.