Sunday, March 12, 2017

Assembly 2017 Results: Time to look ahead


Article first published at +ABP NEWS curated in Sandip Ghose' Blog: Right Angle click here

Let us stop flogging the dead horse of demonetisation and not settle scores among each other about who had predicted what outcome. Face it, we were all off the mark to a greater or lesser extent including most Exit Pollsters. It is all par for the course in a 7-phase election, which can be as tricky as an eighteen-hole Golf course.

Several myths and assumptions have been broken, but again we should not self-flagellate ourselves by blowing our own fallacies or fantasies, as the case might be. So, focus on some home truths and move forward.

Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav wasted precious time and energy on bashing Notebandi, while Captain Amarinder Singh who royally ignored it came home swimmingly. There is no value in a post-mortem on whether any of the proclaimed benefits of demonetisation have been achieved. It is history and certainly will be a non-issue in the 2019 elections. By then, even Amartya Sen (long live the revered Bharat Ratna) would also have forgotten about it.

But, what is here to stay is increased digitisation of the economy, Aadhar and PAN tagging of transactions leading to, whether we like it or not, greater transparency and, hopefully, higher tax collection. GST is going to become a reality and with increased numbers in the Rajya Sabha the government will not have to take recourse to money bills for passing every single unpopular legislation. So, stop whining about ‘tax-terrorism’ and brace up for some more tough economic measures – such as on Benami Property and unaccounted Gold.

Businessmen and Corporates who have been waiting for their turn in 2019, when the political parties have to come to them for funds, should do well to take note that demonetisation did not affect elections either in UP or Maharashtra. Narendra Modi’s definition of “Acche Din” may not be the same as what they were used to during previous dispensations.

It is time for the opposition, still tormented by thoughts of the resounding drubbing of May 2014, to realise that lungpower and disruptions of Parliament will not translate into votes.

Second, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have long internalised the theme of Tagore’s “Ekla Chalo Re” realising that going forward it is going to be BJP Vs the Rest all the way. Therefore, while Prashant Kishor may get richer by advising parties on how to beat the BJP and more Harvard Professors may make a bee-line for the booming electoral market of India, Shah-Modi have already moved the game at least two notches higher.

In UP, Narendra Modi has conclusively demonstrated how it is possible to cut across caste, communities, geography and socio-economic strata by creating a larger national agenda.

After Maharashtra and UP, it can be safely said that BJP will not have to seek out allies for 2019 (even in the South) instead regional parties will woe BJP in the hope of a couple of berths at the centre.

One may not have to wait for too long to see how ripples of Uttar Pradesh victory into neighbouring Bihar, where Nitish Kumar is already seeing to be warming up towards Modi being one of the few in the opposition to find merit in Demonetisation.

It would also be fascinating to watch how the heads of some of the regional empires, who were dreaming of being the consensus candidate or playing kingmaker in the event of a third front cobbling up majority in 2019, will recalibrate their ambitions and strategy.

It will be a psychologists delight to study how these results affect Arvind Kejriwal , who was already behaving as a shadow Prime Minister.

However, what can be said for sure is, unless bitten by an overwhelming urge for self-destruction, no party will ally with Congress as an equal partner at least as long as Rahul Gandhi is at the helm.

These elections would have also have broken the reverie of those who were romanticising about the entry of Priyanka Vadra into politics. Her brief guest appearance in the Gandhi pocket boroughs of Amethi and Rae Bareli would have made her fans realise she is at best a Goddess with feet of clay. And, if one were to accept her party seniors’ claims that she had played a pivotal role in managing the war-room for UP, it sadly shows that she is no better than her brother in shaping political strategy.

On the other hand Captain Amarinder Singh has proven that the Dynasty may be Dead (or dying) but long lives the Royalty. One need not belabour the point that Congress could never have won Punjab without him. Whether other minor royals in the Congress, like Jyotiraditya Scindia, will take a cue from him only time can tell.

Finally, it can be said that manufactured controversies can create social media stir and get a few stray headlines in the inside pages of international media but leave greater India, which has many more existential issues to cope with, untouched.

The left-liberal media and intelligentsia should accept this and desist from making themselves even more irrelevant by opposing every move of the government for the heck of it.

Similarly, smart quips and sound-bytes may sound nice in TV studios media and get pats in the crony circuit, but do not cut ice with the voters.

At the end of the day, if the arguments are not substantive, Patillas are just empty vessels that make noise, which has little use for Mrs Obama or even a humble desi homemaker.