Gujarat verdict: The dissuasive show of the ‘caste’ virus
 Source : NewsBharati  Date : 22-Jan-2018
The Gujarat Verdict throws light on many issues. On one side, there was no reference to the ‘Godhra’ episode in Gujarat. The leadership of PM Modi seems to have achieved this most difficult rare destination which must be considered a good beginning in the process of nation-building, says Dr Sharad Khare.
 
The great hypocrisy
Political researchers would not be surprised at the routine Gujarat verdict. The impetuous commentators on political affairs in the country lost no time in announcing the prediction of the beginning of the end of ‘Modi era’. Everybody who supports democracy proclaims his unquestionable faith in parliamentary democracy, suddenly falters and finds himself in an awkward apologetic situation when the moment the word Modi is mentioned or referred to, esp. if Modi wins an election. All the chariot-pullers of democracy in India shamelessly exhibit the same choreography. Even the intellectual community in the country seem to fall prey to this confusion. The biases are so strong and dissuasive that studious approach becomes very difficult. The seeds of identity delirium and imitation of the illusionary Western way of life were elegantly sown by the British civil servant Macaulay in the fertile land of Indian society. The British imperial service created a political class of indigenous neo-rulers in India which led the native society to further the Western interests at the cost of the Indian past and its culture. Of course, growth and the development in India, although a corollary of development politics in India, cannot and need not be denied or rejected. The body of growth around was inevitable and inescapable, but the soul had appeared under the anesthetic influence.
The West Minister cabinet system of political administration of the British sort, imposed on the naïve native Indian people, introduced with the Constitution of India, was halfheartedly assimilated, which bore fruits as are experienced as at present.
West in general and England, in particular, are considered for long as the citadel of democracy, democratic structure and civil liberty. It was a successful popular struggle to attain the goal, which is in vogue through the British Empire, in many parts of the world.
It will be important to take the note of the past electoral history of the Gujarat Legislative Assembly since it came into existence in 1960. The Gujarati voters have always exhibited a sense of responsibility and prudence and clarity of mind. The voters seem to have weighed peace, continuity and stability much more while pronouncing their fair verdict.
After a careful analysis of the present general elections of the 2017 Gujarat Assembly, the following inputs need to be appreciated despite a routine slowdown in terms of seats won by the ruling incumbent party.
Regionally varying expanse:
The BJP has excelled in Central Gujarat region, and in South Gujarat region whereas it’s persuasive force fell short of the winning spree decisively in the Saurashtra-Kucchh region and a bit better in the North region. This was a caste-borne serious battle. Local, inexperienced and young leadership devoid of any political ideology or commitment to democratic values prevailed everywhere esp. in Saurashtra-Kucchh region. In the three regions viz., South, North and Central Gujarat, caste venom seemed thrown in the background. Growth and development posed at the centre stage appreciative talk. In the Saurashtra region one has to keep in mind that in as many as four districts out of twelve, viz., Amareli, Somnath, Morbi and Porbundar, the ruling party miserably failed even to open its account. It is also important to take a note of some other social factors which have indirectly proved dissuasive by reinforcing the Modi force. The ‘Patel’ community in Gujarat comprises two segments viz., Kaduvas and Lehuvas and these are scattered all over the State. ( It is learnt that the young aspiring youth leader Hardik Patel belongs to the Kaduva segment) It is surmised that the former were not favourable to the incumbents in power. These factors unbelievably work during the general elections anywhere. It is learnt that almost all political parties in Gujarat resorted to playing caste card. This practice was amply evidenced in the process of picking the candidatures. Political parties while playing a dual role by sticking to the caste considerations in the selection of candidates also speak a different cord by vowing to eradicate caste-based politics in their public speeches. The ‘high command’ of every party justifies their selection of the candidate by pronouncing the inevitability of the winning chances of the aspirants.
The threat:
There were several opinion polls before the voting indicating the results in favour of the incumbents pleasing everybody in the election pundit community. But the voters in Gujarat had a different game plan in their minds. These never revealed the inside story till the last. One has to admit that the voter exercised his right keeping in mind a well-balanced, considerate and wise option. Lessons in pragmatism were taught to one and all. There is one important aspect necessary to be kept in mind while studying electoral damage politics is that today’s democracy is seriously facing threats from the media monster esp. in India. I for one feel that the media has brought the entire party structural organization to the brink of collapse and redundancy. The organisation of a party from within seems to have been brought to a farcical mode and a tactical strategy of statutory compliance. In fact, the media has emerged of late the most powerful propagandist leaving the party structural organization into a meaningless proposition. Twists and misleading interpretations of the non-existent events by the media have become the threats to the party democracy.
In other words, the social media. (Readers are requested to refer to an article on ‘disinformation and social media’ by Mr Pierre Omidyar of ‘eBay’ in the Times of India, Pune, and dated 18th October 2017). The media seems to have assumed the charge and control of the very elections in a parliamentary democracy.
Look at the Gujarat election. Outbursts of and by the media over every event and the statement made by the leading and a lower level political figures in different parties forced the party organizations to battle it out over every meaningless issue, wasting the time endlessly. Leaders at the national levels were busy childishly in targeting each other over frivolous matters. Hardly were there any ideological deliberations, hardly was there any submission of a high standard with respectful decency. There was no talk of development or economic issues, in fact; everybody was trying to push the standard down to the ‘village panchayat’ election level. The INC even seemed to have involved foreign elements, it was alleged. The impatience shown by several learned economists and elite groups over the Union Government’s various policies and programs and its quick results was abominable. These critics, in fact, are aware that the results of economic policies are never magical sticks; it requires an adequate period for the materialization after these are properly executed. Welfare policies and programs in any public administration is not a fairy tale. It is a slow and gradually evolving process. The root cause of such impatience exhibited lies in the unwise and exaggerated unwieldy promises and assurances made during the election speeches and this is committed by all political parties. The unrealistic and imprudent, false promises made by all the contestants without taking into account the economic and financial implications of it, naturally raise high hopes and expectations which the victors find it difficult to fulfil. This is followed by the usual mutual virulent blame game. Every election has become a victim of this epidemic.
Declining electoral standard:
It will be important to take a serious note of the consistently declining standard of the electoral atmosphere in various elections esp. in the recent past elections to the Mumbai Municipal Corporation and presently the Gujarat Legislative Assembly must prove the point. Personal and incriminating allegations against each other, abuses hurled at each other, infringement of personal privacy leading to wild hearsay affairs exposed in public domain, moreover none of these allegations hurled had anything to do with economic or public policy matters. The
The electoral debate has lost its economic or academic content and even relevance which is a very serious matter. Most leaders from all political parties seem to be educated but do not seem to be wise and culturally competent enough to carry on intellectual discourse with decency. These small time leaders are seen ably accompanied and supported by irresponsible and westernized media in India. The hypocritical imitation of their Western counterpart is considered to be progressive. In fact, despite this author’s strong support to parliamentary democracy, the honest submission is that the threat to the democratic practices is from within the Indian polity viz., the irresponsible behavioural pattern of the opposition parties. The dissent is too much and on every small and insignificant matter. The dissent in Indian polity is fatalistically exercised crippling the ‘executive’, leaving it inactive. The dissent is seen exercised at the cost of policies, programs and decisions taken consequent to electoral popular mandate for public welfare by the elected ‘executive’.
Gujarat too:
Criticism of the government policies and programs and the manner in which these are implemented is certainly the prerogative of the opposition party leaders. The office bearers at different levels of the parties in opposition are entitled to criticize, but certainly, these are not entitled to hit below the belt by abusing the Prime Minister by naming him in person in ’corner-meetings’. The small-time leaders, with inadequate knowledge and information about national policies, were seen flirting with abusive and vulgar comments which were nowhere near the clause ‘decency’ and etiquettes. Policies, programs and executive decisions are supposed to be the targets of criticism and not the individual personalities in public life. Unfortunately, democracy is mistakenly considered and defined as abusing the leaders in the government or in the opposition to attacks on their personal integrity, character and competence. Those who commit these indecent exchanges on either side, are often defended in the name of freedom of expression, liberty and democracy. One has to keep in mind that such a situation is a clandestine threat to the future of democracy yet it is inadvertently sidelined or ignored. Elections to the Bombay Municipal Corporation and the Gujarat Legislative Assembly have sounded the caution-bell to take care of the immediate future lest it is going to be a tough time ahead.
Nothing extraordinary was experienced in the Gujarat Legislative Assembly elections as the following data would throw light on the electoral performance of the government through the Assembly output.

Year

Vidhan Sabha Election

Party-wise Details

Chief Minister

Party

1962

Second Assembly

Total: 154. INC: 113, Swatantra: 26, PSP:7

Balwantrai Mehta

INC

 

 

 

Hitendra Desai

 

1967

Third Assembly

Total: 168. INC: 93, Swatantra: 66

Hitendra Desai

INC

1972

Fourth Assembly

Total: 168. INC: 140, NCO: 16

Ghanshyam Oza

INC

 

 

 

Chimanbhai Patel

 

1975

Fifth Assembly

Total: 182. INC: 75, NCO: 56, BJS: 18, KLP:12

Babubhai J. Patel

NCO

 

 

 

Madhav Singh Solanki

INC

 

 

 

Babubhai J. Patel

JP

1980

Sixth Assembly

Total: 182. INC: 141, JP: 21, BJP: 9

Madhav Singh Solanki

INC

1985

Seventh Assembly

Total: 182. INC: 149, JP: 14, BJP: 11

Madhav Singh Solanki

INC

 

 

 

Amarsinh Chaudhary

 

 

 

 

Madhav Singh Solanki

 

1990

Eighth Assembly

Total: 182. JD: 70 + BJP: 67, INC: 33

Chimanbhai Patel

JD/JD(G)/INC

 

 

 

Chhabildas Mehta

INC

1995

Ninth Assembly

Total: 182. BJP: 121, INC: 45

Keshubhai Patel

BJP

 

 

 

Suresh Mehta

BJP

 

 

 

Shankersinh Vaghela

RJP

 

 

 

Dilip Parikh

RJP

1998

Tenth Assembly

Total: 182. BJP: 117, INC: 53

Keshubhai Patel

BJP

 

 

 

Narendra Modi

 

2002

Eleventh Assembly

Total: 182. BJP: 127, INC: 51

Narendra Modi

BJP

2007

Twelfth Assembly

Total: 182. BJP: 117, INC: 59

Narendra Modi

BJP

2012

Thirteenth Assembly

Total: 182. BJP: 116, INC: 60

Narendra Modi

BJP

 

 

 

Anandiben Patel

 

 

 

 

Vijay Rupani

 

2017

Fourteenth Assembly

Total: 182. BJP: 99, INC: 77, BTP: 2, NCP: 1, IND: 3

Vijay Rupani

BJP


General Elections in the Local Bodies in Gujarat: 2015

With more than half its population of 63.8 million went to the polls on November 22 and 29, the elections to 323 local self-government bodies in Gujarat.
The six municipal corporations registered only 45 % voter turn-out, but elsewhere it was over 60 %.[2]
The BJP won all the six municipal corporations but not before ceding a lot of seats to the Congress in cities like Rajkot, Jamnagar and Bhavnagar
The BJP bagged the 72-member Rajkot Corporation, it managed only 38 seats as against 34 of the Congress. In 2010, the BJP had won 49 and the Congress got 10 in the then house of 59.
In the small towns, the BJP won 40 of the 56 municipalities and the Congress 8. The Congress had 10 municipalities out of a total of 53 last time.
In the villages, it was a total role reversal, with Congress winning 21 of the 31 district panchayats compared to the 2 it held last time. The BJP which held 24 seats in 2010 was reduced to a mere 6.-The Congress made deep inroads into the Patidar pockets in Saurashtra, north and south Gujarat -- including at Morbi, Jamnagar, Amreli and Mehsana, which are traditionally BJP strongholds. Of the 230 taluka panchayats, the Congress grabbed 133 while the BJP’s tally fell from 162 to 72. Out of a total of 4778 seats, the Congress won 2509, while BJP bagged 1981.
The comparative results of BJP and Congress in 2015 & 2010 polls ( Congress has performed better than in 2010. The remaining seats & Bodies are won by "Others". (Source: www.dnaindia.com/india).
The above statistics signalling a see-saw of electoral power politics at the grass root level in local self-government agencies, it would indicate the extent of opposition and wrath, the incumbent party was required to face in the serious vote-battle in every battle.
In the recent Assembly General Elections of 2017, it was the Saurashtra-Kuchh region which struck the body blow to the ruling party which had confidently hoped much more. South Gujarat once again proved BJP’s strong citadel. North Gujarat drove towards a status-quo. Central Gujarat stood firmly with the BJP. It is important to note that except Saurashtra-Kuchh region the remaining three regions seemed to favour the BJP’s development plank.
The overall scenario of the Gujarat Assembly elections highlights the following features: The statistics are: The BJP polled votes in absolute figures 1,47,24,427, whereas the INC polled 1,24,38,937 votes. The favourable votes swing for the BJP is 1.2% ( since the last election), and for the INC it is far better 4 %. BJP polled 49.1% votes of the total whereas the INC polled 43.9% of the total- a fairly better score.
There are four regions in Gujarat. The BJP and the INC have scored in 2017 in the respective regions as follows:
No. of Assembly constituencies region wise:

Central Gujarat

Total no. of seats: 56 .Out of the total 56:   BJP –34 and INC+ --22.   

North Gujarat:              Total no. of seats: 32. Out of the total 32: BJP- 17, INC- 15.

Saurashtra-Kuchh:       Total no. of seats: 54. Out of the total 54: BJP- 22, INC- 31.  

South Gujarat:              Total no. of seats: 40. Out of the total 40: BJP- 28, INC- 12.


It would become clear that in spite of the reduced number of seats won, the electioneering mechanics struck the incumbents but the incumbents have done very well by securing more votes in terms of absolute numbers and thereby the percentage.
Nothing much has gone wrong
However, in view of the above, the following factors need a careful scrutiny esp. by the BJP, in the context of the Gujarat elections with an eye on the impending bigger battles elsewhere.
(a) Migratory leadership from other parties in BJP appeared dominating,
(b) Weak district level leadership of parties,
(c) The ‘dominant caste’ in the State appeared sidelined/ignored,
(d) Increased tax burden experienced by the small and medium range business communities, (e) leaders at the lower echelons of the parties could not play their effective role in the decision making,
(f) Excessive dependence of the ruling party on the Modi charisma,
(g) Opposition INC has always been a strong bastion of institutionalized power structure such as ‘cooperative credit structure’ in rural areas and ‘panchayat raj’ agencies,
(h) Grievances within the party fold ignored without evaluating its consequential social and organizational repercussions,
( I ) ‘dissent’ too has an educative role in the process of decision making’- this principle need not be undermined by the higher leadership in each case,
( j ) any development model has to be based on a considered gradual evolutionary pace and need not be executed with an extraordinary haste. This is required to be kept in mind while formulating long-term policies and programs.
The deceptive kaleidoscope? :
There are interesting features of the recent Gujarat legislative elections. Not only Gujarati political participants stared at the Gujarat elections, the Indian political masters too had their eye on the events in Gujarat. The INC vice-President in the absence of the President along with some former chief ministers of other states had camped in Gujarat to fight out the electoral battle aiming at throwing Modi out of Gujarat. On carefully scrutinizing the textual content of the opposition parties’ statements, it appeared as if it was a single point agenda program ‘oust Modi! It would appear as if these leaders including the INC vice-President, was on a national mission of dislodging not BJP, but defeating Modi at any cost, even the ‘Gir Somnath’ was resorted to, in a shameless publicity stunt! (The poor vice-president was guided by the mediocre sycophants around him). It will not be an exaggeration if it is submitted that the entire scenario of Gujarat elections was a great mockery of parliamentary democracy. A great hypocrisy unfolded. Parliamentary decency appeared thrown to the winds amidst vulgar irrelevant debates. As earlier stated the name and the office of the Prime Minister of the largest democracy in the world had been unceremoniously dragged in at several times without any sort of remorse. The exterior layer of the ordinary individual voters’ resolve was seen tilted towards Shri Narendrabhai Modi, but quite a few waivered on account of appeals of caste loyalties made by a few others. The talk of development and growth was a lone voice of the incumbents. The situation exhibited the dissuasive power of the ‘caste’ virus.
Yet in another development in the dust of the electoral tornado, there was no reference to the ‘Godhra’ episode in Gujarat (thank God). It is certainly a welcome trend. Opposition’s favourite vote bank had been kept silent; however, that the factor had already lost its fervour is another aspect. The leadership of Modi seems to have achieved this most difficult rare destination which must be considered a good beginning in the process of nation-building.
Gujarati voter has stumped the indecent and virulent rallies by the opposition groups against all sorts of negativisms and divisive outcries by the rejected and the dejected souls during the Gujarat elections while decisively ushering in the clarion call of ‘unite and serve’ by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi aptly referred to by Shri M J Akbar in his article in the Times of India, Pune, dated 12-1-2018 remembering Swami Vivekanand on his birth anniversary.
The Swami preached the youth of India a century ago, the ‘Nation First’.