Upsetting all opinion polls of media houses, the people have voted to power the party they wanted in the five states that went to the polls. It’s a success of the Indian democracy and also a sign of growing maturity of the voters. In a way, the people have defied – to put it bluntly – the media’s “bluff”; and also, the freebies that the political parties usually come up with before the elections.
The results, for example, in Chattisgarh are a surprise for the ruling BJP party. In spite of the popularity of the Chief Minister – and his development work, the party lost. All ‘exit’ polls have gone wrong in Chattisgarh. The ground realities have been misunderstood, both by the media and the ruling party. Chattisgarh is primarily an agricultural state (in fact, so is Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh) and BJP has done precious little on agriculture. The Congress, however, played a clever trick and announced a loan waiver for the farmers. For once, the Congress understood the people’s mood and did well in all three agricultural states. But whether it finally keeps its promise when it comes to power - (it would be a huge financial burden for the state government) - is another matter.
Rajasthan, like Kerala, usually changes the ruling party in every alternative election. In that way, the Congress was due to replace the ruling BJP in this election. The media, in the exit poll, liberally gave the Congress over 100 seats. But again proving the predictions wrong, the Congress had to literally fight to reach the 100-mark. At the end, the Congress may have to seek the help of “others” (rebels who fought independently) to form a government.
In Madhya Pradesh, it was a see-saw battle. Here again , the exit poll predictions – at least, in terms of numbers – went wrong though some of the polls did predict a close battle by giving the two contending parties almost an equal number of seats. But the media houses were biased as is evident from their seat predictions. Times Now, for example, predicted 126 seats for BJP, while ABP News-CSDS gave 126 to the Congress. BJP was born in this central state and it has always been the party’s stronghold. The BJP has won in the state for three consecutive elections. True, there was an incumbency factor going against the chief minister – also a few serious scams (like Vyapam). But the existing chief minister’s ‘common man’ approach stands him in good stead against the rajas and the aristocratic leadership of the Congress party. Here again, if the Congress finally wins, it will be because of the promises on the farmers’ benefits in this mainly agricultural state. BJP’s primary weakness is perhaps the urban orientation of its policies and its failure to draw up a clear-cut agricultural policy benefiting the farmers. This election result points to its real weakness that has clearly led to an erosion of the party in all three strongholds. The strength of BJP’s IT cell and its loyal media could not save the party. Losing ground in the Hindi Heartland does not augur well for the party in the coming Lok Sabha elections due in another four to five months.