TODAY -

17th LS Election : How the duo of Modi and Shah decimated the Congress ?

SK Singh *



The just concluded Parliamentary elections, the 17th in the series, will remain an epoch making event in the history of Parliamentary elections in this largest democracy of the world. For one, it is the largest operation in human history with around 900 million voters including 1.5 crore first time voters exercising their franchise.

For the second, this election would remain as the dead knell of the oldest and most powerful grand party independent India had seen. This political institution which near single handedly wrested power from the colonial rule, which scripted the birth of an independent India almost from scratch and laid a solid foundation for a developing India, is now pegged to a tiny territory of Kerala, Punjab and bits of Tamil Nadu.

The come-back struggle spearheaded by the Congress President Rahul, despite all the seriousness, sincerity and commitment demonstrated by him could not stand the inroads of the Modi-tsunami even in the three states it had won in the Assembly elections just around 6 months back, let alone in other parts of the country.

The Congress drew total blank in most of the states and UTs, namely, Gujarat, (not even 1 or 2 of the 26), so too in Andhra Pradesh,( of 25), Arunachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarkhand, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, J@K, Rajasthan (of 25), Chandigarh, Tripura, Nagar Havelli, Sikkim, Manipur, Mizoram, Dader, Daman and Lakshadweep.

For the third, it also heralds the slow but sure end of dynastic politics starting with the Gandhis, the Gowdas, the Scindias, the Mulayams, the Yadavs, the list can be lengthened. The repeated jibes against Rahul authored by Modi, like, ‘Shehzada’, ‘Dynasty’, less frequently, ‘Lutyens’ etc, though sound slanderous to the extent of touching the fringes of abhorrence, in the context of human dignity and decency, play an important role in Indian politics.

But Rahul too is not far behind. He dubs Modi with hate-terms of more stinging like ‘chai-walla’ or ‘chowkidar chor’ and the likes.

But these jibes are understandably more for making them heard by making their voices laced with these near slanderous terms and thus attract voters mostly belonging to the lower strata of the society; it also helps resonate with the masses often placed in humor with such voters coming to the aid of the BJP.

The oratory of Modi, his unique eloquence and lovable charisma all rolled into one personality called, ‘a pleasing appeal’ easily connects with people and the end result is generation of a tsunami-like wave against the grand old party. All these put together raises Modi heads and shoulders above the rest and he wins over the most trenchant critic.

The fourth, off all such defeats often torturous, the one which is likely to remain ‘historic’ is the disastrous loss of Rahul in Amethi, a place where the Gandhis held sway since the beginning of elections. The pain of defeat is more stinging for Rahul’s on the face of the reality that his loss is not to any giant political figure with long history of sustained electoral history.

Whatever be the background, Rahul had to lick the wounds to a political underdog, in his own domain. Smriti Irani the diminutive politician of yester-years has now been nicknamed ‘Giant Slayer’ for her success in ending dynastic reign of the Gandhis, the win dubbed as ‘iconic’ and that too in the very bastion of the Gandhis. This factor perhaps could be behind the BJP awarding the giant killer Smriti Irani with the coveted Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the new Cabinet.

The era of hereditary politics, that of inheritance or entitlement has given way to leadership quality, commitment and sincerity. Reports are a galore about Rahul’s reported visit to Amethi 15 times in the past 5 years against Irani’s 35 and the concomitant connect with people of Amethi that may be. Dynasts have been transformed into irrelevance not only in Amethi but across the country this time around.

For the fifth, this election is also reckoned as one with the most expensive election ever laced with rampant use of cash and contraband across the country and that too despite a full team of vigilantes, the observers of all disciplines, the General, the Expenditure, the Income Tax, Excise, Flying Squads etc all charged with extensive powers and responsibilities to curve excessive expenditure, money trails, drugs and drinks and all that .

Official records talk about seizure of unaccounted cash, liquor, drugs, precious metals and freebies worth a whooping Rs 3361 crore linked to the election. This huge seizer is 100% more than the one in the 16th edition of election in 2014 when Rs 1400 crore seizer was on record.

According to the Centre for Media Studies (CMS), a Delhi based NGO; this election would have spent upwards of Rs 60,000 crore, reportedly more than the Union government’s annual health care budget. Characteristically, it is double the expenditure in 2014 Parliamentary elections. This trend of massive expenses was originally an absolute preserve of the southern states, known as ‘south-of-Vindhyas- phenomenon’, though the disease spread fast across the rest of the country.

Curiously, Tamil Nadu one among the highest literate states with a record of seizer of Rs 945 crore worth of cash and freebies, is more known as the bastion of the most corrupt election practices in the country. In this background, the EC’s Rs 70 lakh ceiling for Parliamentary election fades into a crude joke.

Contrast this trend in the mainland and peripheries with the scenario obtained in a nondescript tiny state of Mizoram. Known also for its high literacy rate in the country, this diminutive state has transformed itself into one place where election expenditures are recorded as the smallest.

In the words of a General Observer in Lunglei district of Mizoram on November 28, 2018, Mr. Armstrong Pame,
… the only state where many candidates complained about the limit of expenditure for election fixed by ECI, being so high at Rs 3 million,….. many couldn’t even find a way to spend 1 to 2 million of rupees..”. He concluded, “ ……where none have to spend on election and when the best get elected, they don’t have to worry about recovering the money spent in the process of election …..

The words of Shanta Kumar the former CM of Himachal Pradesh and sitting BJP MP from Kangra are more pointed and deserve recalling. He candidly says, “Elections begin with black money and candidates lie before the ECI about their expenses immediately after winning.” Contrast this phenomenon which is near parallel among them, Manipur included, with the ones in Mizoram. But this is Indian election where everything goes except decency, a system followed by Modi or for that matter Amit Shah. And we can’t lie aloof.


* SK Singh wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be reached at kunjabiharis(AT)rediffmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on May 29, 2019.



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