The recently-held assembly elections in the five states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Chattisgarh and Mizoram have thrown up results widely unanticipated by many. Once again, the media forecasts were off the mark, to say the least. While this can await a detailed analysis on a later occasion, two important aspects of these results need to be noted.
First, the BJP’s desperate effort to communalise terrorist attacks in general and the attack in Mumbai in particular mercifully did not yield the results that they were hoping for. The advertisement campaigns put out by the BJP seeking votes by capitalising on these terror attacks have clearly been ignored, at the best, by the voters. These results have also nailed the lie, so assiduously propagated by the BJP, of linking terrorism with the Muslim minority community in India. They continue to do this despite the fact that the most widely respected Deoband had issued,some months ago, an unprecedented fatwadenouncing terrorism as having nothing to do with Islam. This was followed by a huge gathering of Muslims at Hyderabad organised by the Jamat-e-Ulema Hind which categorised terrorism as being anti-Islam. Now, post-Mumbai, on the occasion of Bakrid,in most important masjids in the country including Jama Masjid at Delhi, the namaz ended with a call denouncing terrorism.
The ongoing investigations in the involvement of various organisations and individuals connected with the RSS affiliates in the terror blasts in Malegaon has led to startling revelations in many other incidents of bomb blasts, including the blast on the Samjhauta Express last year.All this only reconfirms that terrorism has no religion. Terrorism is simply anti-national and needs to be fought and defeated by India and Indians as one. This message, conveyed by a significant majority of the people who voted in these elections, needs to be consolidated for strengthening the secular democratic foundations of modern India.This is all the more necessary as the RSS/BJP will continue in their desperation to sharpen communal polarisation seeking electoral benefits in the future.
Secondly,while the BJP has ducked the anti-incumbency factor in Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh, the Congress did so in Delhi. Unlike in West Bengal, or, in Kerala, the party or the combination that won the elections to form the government in these states did not receive a vote share that is in any way close to the 50 per cent plus one majority. In all these states, the non-Congress, non-BJP parties polled a significant percentage of votes. In Madhya Pradesh, while the BJP forms the government with 37.8 per cent votes, the others polled 21.6 per cent of the vote. In Rajasthan, while the Congress forms the government with 36.8 per cent of the votes, the others have polled 29 per cent of the votes. In Delhi, while the Congress forms the government with 40.5 per cent, the others polled 23 per cent. In Chattisgarh, while the BJP forms the government with 40.6 per cent, the others polled 20.6 per cent. In Mizoram as well, the share of the others is 30.1 per cent while the Congress forms the government with 38.9 per cent votes.
The political message is, thus, clear. The people see very little difference between the policies pursued by the BJP and the Congress in redressing the issues of their livelihood. It is clear that if a political alternative based on sound alternative policies is forged, then people’s acceptance can be mustered at the hustings. Such an alternative, obviously, cannot be a cut and paste arrangement on the eve of elections. This has to emerge through popular struggles on policy alternatives for India’s future and a better livelihood for its people. It is precisely the forging of such an alternative that the CPI(M) and the Left are working towards. This process needs to be strengthened, for creating a better India in the days to come.