The #Bihar elections are long gone, but the impact that their results will have on the National scene, particularly the coming Lok Sabha session is ENORMOUS. It will embolden the Indian National Congress to block all the bills that Mr Modi wants to pass for the betterment of India’s economy and its people. States which are in the hands of the Congress or the Opposition, will not collaborate wit the Center as before.
Also for the first time, some of us, who have worked hard for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) & @NarendraModi, supporting him when the whole media, Indian & international, was against him, speaking against Sonia Gandhi, when she was like an empress and nobody dared challenge her (the previous French ambassador once told me that a Congress minister said they were planning to kick me out of India), are for the first time seeing the possibility that Sonia Gandhi might come back to power at the next general elections, as it has happened before.
It’s also very ironical – and saddening – that journalists like me, who thought that once Mr Modi & the BJP came to the Center, with him would also come Hindu power, in culture, people, Media, etc, find that we are still outcasts, still labelled as fringe Hindu Rightists or anti-Muslim. The fault is not with the Indian Media or the Leftist intellectuals, but with Mr Modi and the BJP, who behave sometimes very much like the Congress. This policy of appeasement has actually backfired, as it emboldened anti-Modi outfits, such as @NDTV, or intellectuals, to go full steam after the Prime Minister, by fabricating a series of false accusations, which in turn have tarnished Mr Modi’s image abroad and influenced the Bihar results.
Has the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) learnt nothing from Mr Vajpayee’s defeat??? Mr Modi was elected because he was forceful, pledged radical changes, called a spade a spade. Hindus who voted for him are beginning to be disappointed, as we saw with Bihar, which elected him with a united Hindu vote, from the Brahmin to the Dalit one and half year ago – and this time gave him & the BJP the thumbs down
Why do all Hindu leaders, from Vajpayee, to Advani and Mr Modi, when they come to power, want to be loved by the Media and the foreign press? Many of their actions and statements, even the persons they meet, are often for the benefits of what the Media will say. Why do they all crave so much for respectability? Why do they fall into the entrapment of the Delhi power, which is layer after layer of sycophants, bureaucrats not in touch with the reality of India, ministers who say what they know the PM wants to hear??? Even Sonia Gandhi had an Advisory Board to which she periodically listened. But Mr Modi has no such advisory board and only listens to himself. It was OK in Gujarat, which is a central state and where he could still be in touch with people, as the apparatus around him was not as heavy as Delhi. Maybe if he had listened to other voices than Amit Shah, who has become arrogant and unreachable, he would have got some other advices about Bihar.
Here below my assessment of the Bihar fiasco, which was sent to the PMO India. It is based on feedback from local Bihari journalists and & local sources.
ASSESSMENT REPORT OF THE BIHAR DEBACLE.
1. There was no zeal and enthusiasm in the local NDA workers & they were lacking in training on how to connect & communicate with people.
2. No door to door campaign, Many volunteers from different spiritual organizations were asked to come along for door to door just to “Hava banvo “(create an air) – and that two weeks only before election time.
3. In the village levels, hardly any worker went and explained the achievement of your Government, whereas volunteers of Nitish went there many many times & outlined the achievements of their Govt. Three crore houses were covered by them, sometimes at 3 different times, in a few months.
4. A journalist friend mentioned the Daal issue as an example. People were told by Nitish’s workers “If you vote for NDA, you won’t have daal, as it will become very expensive.” Thus the Biharis got to hear only one side of the story, as nobody bothered to go to these villages. On top of that, TV channels appeared to say that NDA had no counter view to offer.
5. People could relate to cycles and other immediate benefits given by Nitish kumar, whereas there was no counter offer or even a face which could give confidence to the people.
6. Indians are generally fond of entertainment, fun and laughter and Lalu Prasad ‘s entertaining talks with local dialects did create a buzz. Thus the Biharis forgot all the misdeeds of his rule. The BJP’s were too serious. For instance many said that Amit Shah never smiles and carries with him an air of arrogance. It may be ok in Gujarat but does not work with the Biharis ( I saw Amit Shah come to a Pondicherry BJP meeting: he came late, never smiled once, met very few people and left in a hurry. Funny for a man who has spent time in jail and should be more humble and closer to the ordinary Indians).
7. Again and again, I must emphasize that big rallies don’t convert into votes, while medium or small local meetings do. The BJP forgot that and thought that the many well attended meetings of the PM would be enough he clinch the votes. Also, while the campaign of Nitesh kumar began four months before; NDA started very late. 8. It is easy to say that the BJP lost because of the caste equation, but the NDA forgot to learn the crucial lessons from local issues. The Delhites had voted for AAM because of people to people connection & not for caste. In many parts of Bihar the same thing has been repeated. Contact with the locals one to one is essential.
9. In the last 2/3 months, Prashant Kishore, who used to be with the BJP (why did he switch to Nitish???) gave training to the grass root workers at many taluka, village & district levels, That has paid of very well. NDA has totally ignored the issue of training of the workers Simply, lectures were given and orders were passed, which in many cases were never followed through.
10. There is a great sense of disappointment with the Center, as people’s expectations were too high about Mr Modi and they feel that not enough change has happened. They feel that too much importance is given for international tours & economy, but not much has happened on the ground level. This is why in many places, the Biharis elected an alternative face. Many villages wanted to hear the other side of the story – your story – which was not available: why do you go to Japan, why do you go to Kashmir, what is the purpose of that reform or that one…. And that is the reason Jadav, Kushva, and other SC candidates of NDA totally lost.
11. The main agenda of NDA on which people have voted in 2014 was sidelined. Like good governance, anti corruption, secularism… What Biharis wanted is Development For All. Much of the NDA campaign was on a negative line. Some statements of NDA leaders – I need not go into that – have also created fear in lower castes & the Muslims.
12. Cast equations are usually managed by local candidates and the state leaders. If the local candidates are convincing enough it doesn’t matter who is the state leader. Here both the local candidates and the state were either not available or kept waiting for some Hava to come. In many places the local candidate didn’t have enough zeal, nor any information to counter the attacks.
13. Many local leaders were demoralized by the heads of the party. They felt lack of appreciation & importance as every thing was managed by the central leadership. While some were overconfident others were in the grip of fear & disappointment.
14. The NDA has failed in managing Local as well as National media on issues like Price rise, Communal instances- Dadri, Award vapsi drama. Unnecessary statements of NDA & RSS leaders have created confusion in voters mind.
In conclusion: the message that the people of India, Biharis and non Biharis, get since two years, is that the Prime Minister does not want to topple the apple cart. Yet, the people of India – and Bihar -elected him because he said he would do radical changes. But the impression is that he did not want to remove officers put in place by the Congress, go after the hostile Media, would not appoint those seen as ‘too right wing’, etc. The PM should then change course and start implementing all these changes he had pledged two years ago, even if it means going after all those who are hostile to him, while keeping an ear to the ground and empowering local district leaders.