Not a BJP Juggernaut Yet

The recent Assembly election results have been more or less definitive in pointing towards the growing spread of the BJP across the country. It is too early to say that it has pan Indian character as North east and two states of the south are still out of bounds for the party. As for the north east the BJP is pinning its hopes on the issue of migrants from Bangladesh which broke into spotlight recently with the massacre by a militant group. It has left the Congress government there in a limbo though it is unlikely to indicate a shift of voters choice towards the BJP. The party is still a long way from planting its feet firmly there. With the tribal underpinnings virtually influencing the region's partisan loyalties the BJP will harp on its pet plank of development to harness the voters there. The Prime Minister Modi did exactly that when he campaigned before the general elections.

However the results in Jharkhand and Jamnu and Kashmir have been typical of the peculiar trends, both national and local. In Jharkhand the persistent instability of the previous governments - both led by Congress or BJP coalitions - and huge corruption in coal sector had left the state in economic mess and the voters looking for a majority government to pull them out. If they gave the BJP a sizable tally of 42 seats it was more out of frustration than hope. If at all the new non-tribal chief minister has to rein in the sources of corruption, increase the huge revenue possible from coal and cater to the problem of sustenance for the tribals through a development agenda that would bring the benefits to them. The problem is more in implementation and not announcements. Modi during his campaign said to the effect that around Rs. 20000 crores would be due to them now that the Supreme Court had called for auction of coal licences and proper vetting of the companies engaged in production. Coal, being a time consuming process, will only result in phased accrual of the revenue, not immediate windfall. It means that the government will have to streamline other sources of revenue before the budget.

The results in J&K, being fractured, cry out the immediate need to make a fresh departure. Being a different kettle of fish, the mandate has put the onus on PDP to work out an arrangement which entails compromises on its ideological position. It cannot be seen to be softening its stand on article 370 - the defining identity of the state according to the principal parties, the PDP and NC- or AFSPA though neither the Congress or the BJP had at any time hinted at the withdrawal, partial or otherwise of the latter. With the sensitivities known it will be tough for the PDP to carry the opposition or the people with it on the issues but it may have to work out a common minimum programme with the possible coalition ally, if it is the BJP, to carry conviction. Tourism and development are obviously the two main points of the agenda with the former decisively taking a beating in the violence-torn valley. Flood had taken its toll and the Centre had given huge compensation, albeit with an eye on the polls. Tourism promotion will put the state on the global map again with its potential and no wonder will be a key element of any common agenda worked out. Whether the PDP will politically succeed in carrying conviction with the people on its possible alliance with the BJP remains to be seen but it has little choice numerically. And the overwhelming mandate in Jammu for the BJP means that the region cannot be ignored. In all Mufti, the PDP leader, has a tight rope to walk with the additional problem of settling the Pandits in the valley.

But the mandate mandates that government formation has to be put in motion and they have few choices to escape from. Whatever, the new government, when it comes up, will bring about a change in the scenario depending on its performance over six years


More by :  K.S. Subramanian

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