If curiosity has power to kill a cat, complacency has the potential to skew, if not kill, the electoral expectations. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) have registered a landslide victory in the recently held Chandigarh municipal polls, by winning 20 out of 26 seats, and Congress came a distant second with just 4 seats. Generally speaking, this should be a joyous occasion; however, on the contrary, this should make the alliance, especially BJP, anything but happy. BJP national president, Amit Shah was quick to term this a public approval of demonetization; a deeper analysis would prove his point otherwise. The BJP karyakartas should be worried if Shah was extrapolating the municipal elections’ victory to upcoming assembly elections.
“Thank people of Chandigarh for supporting BJP, every election win after Nov 8 shows that they approve #DeMonetisation decision” mentioned Amit Shah. This remark can be safely dismissed as a volte-face. Time and again, it has been proven, that the voter decisiveness in one section of federal structure cannot be attributed to another. Meaning, voters vote differently and on different parameters in different elections. The electoral results in Municipal elections cannot serve as a benchmark for Assembly elections and the electoral mandate in Assembly elections cannot serve as a benchmark for Parliamentary elections, reverse is also true. With the advent of electronic media and digital technology, common man plays a much different, powerful and capricious role in deciding candidates’ future in different elections. A common voter knows his priorities extremely well.
Let’s analyze the upcoming Punjab state elections, touted to be a triangular contest. Let’s briefly analyze the parties involved. Firstly, the BJP-SAD alliance. SAD, due to it’s poor, lackadaisical and atrociously incompetent handling of the drug menace presented itself as more of a liability than an asset to BJP. Drug menace has proved to be a bane and has taken several lives, especially that of teens. And BJP with its dwindling voter base in Punjab is at a cross road. On one hand, it has the opposition’s favorite ‘Demonetization’ demon and on the other hand, it has to cover its partner’s inability to handle the drug menace. Added to this, the Sidhu family caused a dent to BJP’s image in Punjab. A disgruntled three-time MP, Navjot Singh Sidhu, a popular personality in Punjab, left BJP and after a lot of dilly-dallying, started Awaaz-e-Punjab, which he claims is a platform to question the government. However, grapevine indicates his induction into Congress is impending, especially after his recent meet with Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi. Political circles have been suspicious of his moves ever since his wife and former BJP MLA joined the Congress. Surrounding all this, what makes this ‘Dangal’ a lot more intriguing is the impetuous attempts of Arvind Kejriwal to cash in on the huge void created by the existing parties. A huge void created by ever present political parties always created a golden opportunity for fledgling parties. This is exactly where Aam Admi Party (AAP) fits the bill. And Kejriwal has been shrewd enough to smell a rat long ago, and sprang into action to train his guns in Punjab. Despite his cabinet’s involvement in several scandals, people will always look towards an alternative, for, a voter is forever optimistic, not necessary in the future of the country, but in the performance of a greenhorn party chief with lofty promises. Kejriwal comes with a baggage too. After being insolently shown the exit door from AAP, Sucha Singh Chotepur, with his clout is ready to take AAP head on.
For the opposition, it’s a different ball game. The opposition can train its guns on BJP, iteratively, by constantly using the prior defeats of BJP in different states (if defeated) as a disapproval of Demonetization, in the upcoming state elections. And this logic can be applied across all the 29 states, until the demon is addressed or the dust settles whichever comes first.
With all the above mentioned factors, every party despite its own baggage stands a chance in this triangular fight for Punjabi power and the last thing which Amit Shah needs from the recent municipal victory is complacency.