JAMMU: The stupendous victory of Aam Admi Party (AAP) in Delhi polls is no way a reflection of waning magic or charisma of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as some excited political analysts might try to make out. It is a vote for governance and performance like the one Odisha hurled out by re-electing Navin Patnaik as Chief Minister with thumping majority and substantially voting for Modi in the simultaneously held elections to the State Legislative Assembly and Lok Sabha in May 2019.
Riding high on the Modi wave, the BJP had made a clean sweep in May-2019 Lok Sabha elections in Delhi by winning all the seven seats with massive margins, pushing Aam Aadmi Party to embarrassing third slot. What went wrong for the BJP that the AAP overtook it in just over seven months? Is it vote against Modi? The answer would be in negative as the Indian voter is smart enough in making choice. While Narendra Modi is unequivocally a most popular leader at the national level, local issues continue to dominate in states and Union Territories. The Indian voter can make a fine distinction between national and local elections. That is what happened in Delhi.
The AAP victory has taught a lesson to political outfits across the spectrum not to take public support for-granted. The voters are matured enough to draw the demarcation lines. It is this maturity of voters that is a cause of worry for all those who have been banking upon charisma of leaders or the cadre base of their parties.
For the BJP in Jammu, the AAP victory is a shock wave that has started causing tremors in the mansions of small-timers who turned neo-elite overnight after winning 2014 elections to the then State Legislative Assembly. Buoyancy of Jammu over the BJP stepping into the cradle of power with PDP disappeared midway like a bubble of water once its below-average flock failed in coming to the expectations of their electors. Not a single tear rolled on any cheek when the BJP ministers were kicked out of the ministry because power had gone to their heads. They had become feudal lords who would care two hoots for those who had elected them for love of Narendra Modi. Most of them set new bench marks of corruption under the very nose of dedicated RSS cadre which had burnt midnight oil in ensuring their victory. They betrayed and bartered the trust of Prime Minister Modi for few loaves of power just to fill up their coffers. In this pursuit, they compromised with self esteem of Dogras and played second-fiddle to those they were calling anti-nationals just the other day. They opened up transfer industry and kept fleecing their own voters unashamedly. They introduced the culture of rewarding blue-eyed in the administration at the cost of those having integrity. They put a big question mark on the credibility of the most popular Prime Minister of independent India.
The inefficiency, the alleged corrupt practices, second fiddle syndrome and non-performance remained hallmark of almost all the BJP ministers in Jammu and Kashmir. Its immediate fall out came during elections to Panchayats where it lost the majority of Block Development Council Chairperson slots despite two premier political outfits National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party opting out of the elections. BJP won just 81 of the 310 positions and got rejected by the Jammu rural electors. The arrogance of below average Jammu BJP leaders, their inaccessibility to people and self-centric approach has made the party alien in its traditional stronghold. But for the present Pradesh President Ravinder Raina, none of the former ministers or legislators can muster the guts to go amidst people. He is the only BJP face who alongside Raman Bhalla of the Congress can be seen fighting for the Jammu cause. Most of the so-called Jammu based BJP leaders are carrying the tag of corruption around their necks. This is a worrying scenario for the BJP high command in New Delhi, which knows well that its strength to galvanise the country comes from the challenges the nation is facing in Jammu and Kashmir. In the current spell of President Rule, the local BJP leaders could have served as a bridge between people and the government, both here and the Centre. But due to their hibernation, tarnished image and marginalized public profile, the unbridled bureaucracy is calling the shots at the expense of Jammu interest.
The BJP should not forget that its pro-active response to Kashmir turmoil has driven the party to Delhi throne but also inculcated the unprecedented spirit of patriotism among compatriots. The Union Territory will continue to be the power engine for any political party which can demonstrate the courage to fight on the plank of nationalism. Therefore, the BJP will have to treat J&K as its ‘theatre of action’. The party may recapture its premier space in the states where it lost but losing J&K will mean end to the BJP type of politics in the country. To retrieve its lost position in the newly formed Union Territory, the BJP is required to do some sort of churning (Manthan) in terms of weeding out and sidelining the black sheep in the party. Sooner it does, the better it will be for revival of the BJP in Jammu.