Flush with victory in Uttar Pradesh, a sweep in Uttarakhand and the joy of beating the Congress to the punch in Goa and Manipur, the Right Wing has mostly forgotten Punjab. Yes, we are trying not to think about it.
But if you ask me, something very sinister has just unfolded in Punjab. Not because Congress won, but because of the manner in which this victory came about. In hindsight, it seems to be a major success of media propaganda, which may well repeat in some form in other states.
I am sure I can speak for large sections of the RW when I say that we all thought Punjab was in disarray, in the grip of an anti-incumbency wave. This kind of thinking was sorely manifest even at the highest levels. Notice that Modi himself did just ONE rally in Punjab. And Modi is not someone who is known for putting in half hearted efforts. Clearly, that one rally was just a courtesy to the Akalis. In their hearts and often even in their public statements, the BJP leaders, workers and supporters had all decided that there was an anti-incumbency wave sweeping Punjab.
Did we really stop to think why a rather prosperous state like Punjab would experience an anti-incumbency wave of historic proportions? Of course there can be simple anti-incumbecy… a sense of restlessness among voters and a desire for change. Punjab has a long tradition of alternating governments and so NDA was probably going to lose anyway. But why an anti-incumbency wave?
What had happened in Punjab that was so bad that we all thought people were itching to throw the Akalis (and BJP) out? How did we convince ourselves that the election in Punjab was between Congress and AAP, with NDA out of the picture?
The votes are in. Far from being out of the picture, the NDA is clearly the main opposition in Punjab. The NDA is 8% behind the Congress but also as much as 7% ahead of AAP. In fact, the SAD alone contested 94 seats and still got more votes than AAP did by contesting 113 seats.
Consider the media campaign. First, there were the infamous “100 seat surveys” that showed AAP sweeping the state. There was even a big Bollywood movie made on the atmosphere of drug addiction and decay in Punjab. Dr. Praveen Patil called the movie a “special purpose vehicle”. The media kept up the pressure, with regular reports on how Punjab was staring into the abyss and all because of NDA.
And AAP, which really knows how to work the airwaves, used this very effectively to crush the right wing morale. Because of the BJP’s two failures in Delhi, the party and its supporters had developed a mental block against AAP. Again, the media sensed this fear and leveraged it extensively against us.
Look at what was really happening. AAP was nowhere and we were all worried sick about it.
Because of the AAP association with Khalistan, it is not hard to imagine that significant sections of the Hindu vote might have gone to Congress. And even if the BJP leadership did not do this as a matter of policy, terrified BJP workers on the ground might have shifted votes to Congress anyway.
This is why I say that the election in Punjab was downright sinister. You had BJP workers shifting votes to the Congress and even cheering the Congress on. Can it get more sinister than this?
In Punjab, we were happily destroying our own fortifications and cheering our enemy along. Because the media convinced us that there was an even bigger enemy attacking us from the other direction.
But there was no other enemy on the other side. It was a lie made up by the media.
Face it. The BJP was completely outwitted and outfoxed in Punjab. In retrospect, how did we fall for this?
I can imagine Capt. Amrinder Singh having a Patiala peg and rolling in laughter right now, with Bhagwant Mann by his side.
“Can you believe BJP supporters voted for us because they thought AAP is for real?”
That’s what Amrinder Singh is telling Mann right now.
The Congress is happy because it swept to power. Kejriwal is happy because the media hype allowed him to auction AAP tickets several times over for several crores each.
And the BJP is happy because it found out that the AAP ghost isn’t real. Who is the fool here?