Saturday, May 16, 2009

A win beyond their dreams

Even Priyanka Gandhi thought it was going to be 'touch and go', but in the end, it's turned out to be the biggest victory for the Congress since 1991. Who would have thought, 24 hours ago, that this was coming? Not the Congress itself, because its leaders were still in touch with potential allies of all shades and shapes. Not the President, who was consulting constitutional experts on her options in the event of a hung parliament. Not the pollsters who again got it wrong - every single one of them. They predicted that UPA would be ahead, but were off target by about 50 seats on averge. And yes, not the media, or even the wise bloggers, who all thought it was going to be a close call.
In the end, it was a wave no one saw coming. The nightmare scenarios didn't come to pass. There will be no loonies ruling us in the next few years.
Much punditry is on already about why the Congress won the victory it did. It's all speculation, none of it based on fact.
But here's what we do know: the Congress fought this election on the slogan, "Aam aadmi ke badhtey kadam, har kadam par Bharat buland". Translated, that means, "The advancing footsteps of the common man, a stronger India at every step". In other words, the Congress targeted the common man in these elections, and did so suggesting this would lead to a stronger India. Its campaign song, set to the tune of "Jai ho" from Slumdog Millionaire, was similarly an aspirational tune addressed to the common man. Even its advertising was about empowering the masses, empowering rural India and empowering youth.
The party has evidently won support from all these sections. To some extent, it would have done so because of the work the government did, especially through generous acts like the NREGA and the Rs 65,000 crore dole to farmers. That has paid off.
Rahul Gandhi's campaigning has also doubtless played a part, especially the image of him in contrast to the octogenarian Advani. The poor old man lifting weights to try and prove a youth he no longer had will remain among the sad images of these elections.
A lot of the credit for the Congress win in Uttar Pradesh must also be given to its regional rivals in the state. They have so thoroughly discredited themselves that the only party left for anyone to vote was Congress. Something similar happened in Telengana in Andhra Pradesh, where TRS was decimated, and even in Bengal, where the Left had become the party of hubris.
The internal divides in its opponents helped the Congress in states like Rajasthan. The same factor hindered it in Karnataka.
The takeaway message from this win for ALL political parties in India should be that the common man is no fool and cannot be taken for granted. Good work and a measure of honesty are becoming important for winning elections. That's why Nitish Kumar won in Bihar, and Lalu and Paswan lost. That's why Naveen Patnaik won in Orissa. And even Modi in Gujarat.
Politicians must now earn their votes. They can't merely buy them.

1 comment:

arvind said...

well articualated....also clearly it is a vote against the "third front" which didnt stand for anything other negativity