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Celebrating Polls: Play Safe, in the Spirit of the Festival

Rajen Garabadu GarabaduRajen

Updated: March 13, 2017, 12:48 PM IST
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Celebrating Polls: Play Safe, in the Spirit of the Festival
BJP supporters draw a lotus flower using Holi colours at the eastern gate of Taj Mahal in Agra. (PTI)

The recently concluded Assembly Election in five states was significant for many good reasons. It was viewed as a semi-final match, two years before the grand finale of 2019. One-fifth of India exercised its choice. Among the five states that went to polls is Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state. Much of India was invested in the outcome of these polls. Most people one met had the same question — who will win the elections? Political pundits and opinion pollsters were much in demand for their analysis and opinion. The results were beyond expectations of most experts and average voters.

Now that the election results are out, the suspense is over and it’s back to business as usual. One look at the results will bust a few myths and rubbish some theories. No single mantra holds good forever. The beauty of democracy is that you may have watched elections for decades and think you know it all, but the results can surprise you more than you thought. Below are 10 clear takeaways from the 2017 election results, as I see it.

Narendra Modi is the tallest national leader as of now. No one comes close to him. It will take a lot for any other party to beat the BJP under Modi in 2019 general elections.

Demonetisation has worked in favour of the BJP. The poor have hailed Narendra Modi’s move as a measure to punish the rich and corrupt.

Rahul Gandhi cannot be the Congress’s answer to Narendra Modi. If the Congress does not understand this now, it may lose its national party status going forward.

Punjab’s result stems from the failure of the Akali government and the people chose Congress because of Amarinder Singh. The Congress would do good to back strong regional leaders rather than depend on national leaders.

Not projecting a chief ministerial candidate in UP and Uttarakhand has helped the BJP. As a result, Modi emerged as the face of BJP’s campaign which helped the party.

Many reasons have been given for Samajwadi Party’s defeat — from aligning with the Congress to infighting within the family. Even in the absence of both factors, the SP couldn’t have made it to power.

Development alone does not guarantee electoral success. Chandrababu Naidu learnt it many years ago, Akhilesh should know now.

Mayawati is the worst loser in these elections. Not only has her party’s support base been eroded, blaming the electronic voting machines and suggesting that the Election Commission go back to paper ballots is ridiculous. It also shows that she views the electorate as fools to lap up her absurd claim.

Prashant Kishore is an election strategist, not a magician. He can help a party improve numbers with the help of tools and strategies, he can’t turn a loser into a winner.

Do not make extreme conclusions based on one result or two. We tend to hail and ridicule a leader or party based on a result or two. The BJP under Modi and Amit Shah lost Delhi poorly after winning 2014 general elections with a landslide. They did win Haryana and Assam, but lost Bihar.

Election in India, much like the festival of Holi, is full of colour. As long as the colours are harmless and every participant plays in the spirit of the game, it is good for us all. Like Holi, it should bind us together, irrespective of religion, caste, creed and language. Only then can it be a true celebration of democracy.

Happy Holi!

First Published: March 13, 2017, 12:48 PM IST