I must begin today’s post with an expression of grief for the loss of Ananth Kumar. Shocking. No words. To lose a leader like that at the age of 59 years is huge huge loss for Karnataka BJP.
Meanwhile, even as I write, BJP cadres in the Naxal affected districts of Chhattisgarh must have hit the ground with gusto. The BJP is defending its 15 years in Chhattisgarh and getting ready for a fourth term.
That Raman Singh and Shivraj are likely to successfully defend 15 years of governance in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh respectively is amazing in itself. Also spare a thought for Gujarat, where BJP defended 22 years of incumbency last year. A feat which shows the truth in Amit Shah’s words: BJP ki sarkaron mein anti incumbency nahin hoti (there is no anti incumbency around BJP governments).
First of all, our thoughts today should go out to the voters of Chhattisgarh, thousands of whom will be risking their lives to come out and vote. These are the voters who refuse to be intimidated by left wing terrorism. And a salute to our valiant security forces who are defending with their lives the right of the people to vote.
I believe one jawan of the BSF was martyred only yesterday. Think of what it takes to put your body in between the left wing terrorists and the people. And think of how little their jobs pay. These security forces are the true heroes of our democracy.
Come tonight, the fashionable leftists will be on TV as usual, giving us lectures on free speech, decrying the Indian state. And of course, the leftists on TV will be maligning the same security forces that have spent all day trying to save the people from the bombs and bullets thrown by the leftists of the forest.
Let us now come to the electoral equations today. Of the 18 seats on offer, the BJP has just 6 and the Congress 12 at the moment. The 2013 result was the exact opposite of the 2008 outcome, where BJP won 12 seats and the Congress 6.
Today it is BJP’s turn to win in these 18 seats. Last time, the sympathy wave created by the dastardly attack at Jhiram Ghati was too much for the BJP. I mention here the Late Mahendra Karma, the leader of Salwa Judum, who was martyred in the Jhiram Ghati attack of 2013. He was the only Congress leader I used to see as a hero.
In 2013, the BJP knew that they had done badly in the 1st phase. Modi knew that a loss in Chhattisgarh would be a huge blow to the Modi wave, which was still building up at the time. What followed in the week between the 1st phase and the 2nd phase was a terrific jugalbandhi. Modi and Raman covered every corner of Central Chhattisgarh with rallies and no voter was left untouched by the campaign.
The result? The Congress had gone into relax and celebrate mode after the 1st phase, believing in the wisdom that whoever wins Bastar wins Chhattisgarh. Unfortunately for them, Modi and Raman proved to be makers of their own destiny. Together they stormed the Congress held seats in central Chhattisgarh, generating a wave of local anti-incumbency against sitting Congress MLAs.
This time as the BJP is fighting incumbency in central Chhattisgarh, it becomes all about sweeping Bastar. The BJP has nurtured the tribal vote nationwide, with a heady mix of welfare schemes and big ticket development projects. Today they will reap rich rewards.
Even so, it is to Raman Singh’s credit that he has made this election look ‘easy’ compared to that in 2013. The Congress now has a clear disadvantage in arithmetic with the departure of Jogi. And with Jogi out, the Congress has no leader and no hope of matching Raman Singh. Does Congress seriously think that Bhupesh Baghel can be CM?
The BJP has kept the pressure on the Congress with calculated moves to devastate the morale of the opposition cadre. Only last night, we learned that the state vice president of the Congress has quit the party, showing just how bad the infighting within Congress is. Some people were asking me on Twitter how this makes a difference because most voters have made up their minds by now.
Let me tell you it makes a BIG difference. And I am very sure this departure of state Congress vice president was calculated and planned deliberately for election eve. It’s not about voters, but cadres. It is the cadre which ensures the turnout of party supporters. Their morale, their booth management, is what ultimately carries the election. And in these 18 seats of Chhattisgarh, cadres will probably be risking their lives to ensure turnout of their supporters.
Now tell me what a high profile departure on election eve does to the morale of a Congress cadre? It sends a message that the party’s leadership is compromised, couldn’t care less about the election and doesn’t even want to win. Why should a Congress cadre risk his life and limb in dangerous Naxal affected areas of Bastar? What for? For a Congress leadership that may well be hand in glove with the BJP?
I will say this openly: I feel bad for common Congress cadres in MP and Chhattisgarh, especially Chhattisgarh. Why should they fight? Their own leaders are busy backstabbing each other like crazy. Is their leadership even backing them? No, the only cheerleading is coming from some Delhi propagandists who are being paid for their time. Those Delhi propagandists will send a full itemized bill after every election for their services, charging for every comma, every full stop and possibly for every blank space as well. Why should Congress cadre even try?
Meanwhile the BJP cadre is fully united under Raman Singh’s leadership and every cadre has the full backing of Modi, Shah and the wishes and support of millions of common supporters and sympathizers who don’t want even one rupee from the party. They are not paid to cheer, they take time out of their own common lives in the hopes of making a difference to an ideological cause. The BJP cadre knows it has a tough job on its hands and a need to deliver. Because so many people are counting on them. Who do you think will win this?