BJP wins in Rajasthan, improving its chances in next year’s national election
Prime Minister Modi's party holds on to power in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, while Congress, the main opposition party, wins in Telangana. Speaking to AsiaNews, Archbishop Emeritus Leo Cornelio of Bhopal, the ultranationalist Hindu party ran a more effective campaign, while Rahul Gandhi’s Congress failed to keep its promises.
New Delhi (AsiaNews) – The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the party of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi comes, has won in three of the four states – Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh – where voting was held in recent weeks, gaining control of the “Hindi belt”, a region in northern India where Hindi is the main language.
In Indian National Congress, the main opposition party, won in Telangana. The northeastern state of Mizoram, on the other hand, is expected to announce election results shortly.
For the BJP, this is a remarkable achievement ahead of next spring’s national elections, when Modi will seek a third consecutive term as prime minister.
Observers have been especially impressed by results in Rajasthan, which was led by the Congress. In Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the BJP was already in power, while Telangana was governed by a local party, the Bharat Rashtra Samithi.
The campaign had the effect of “polarising voters on Hindutva sentiments which appeal to the majority vote,” said Archbishop Emeritus Leo Cornelio of Bhopal, commenting on the election results in Madhya Pradesh.
The Hindutva ideology is an extremist political ideology that advocates the hegemony of Hinduism over all other religions.
The prelate noted that, despite this, “there has been certain amount of development done by the BJP government such as roads, transport and communication, etc.” When Congress was in power, “it neglected this.”
The BJP “introduced several measures for the poor, while the opposition's promises remained just that, promises. Even though taxation has increased, there has been an improvement in the lives of citizens.”
One example is a programme introduced for women aged 21 to 60 below a certain income level, providing a monthly subsidy of 1,250 rupees (US$ 15).
As a result, the BJP's intolerance towards minorities took a back seat, while Christians and Muslims "are a minuscule percentage to make a difference," the archbishop explained.
“The BJP’s leadership and organisational skills have been excellent, and this was not the case for the Congress," he added.
As for attacks on Christian organisations, “Education in our institutes is renowned for its quality and values, making people self-reliant and giving space even to the weakest and most vulnerable in society. But these issues do not count in political propaganda or in any case do not concern the majority of voters.”
“The results of the election in the four states are not entirely surprising for the simple reason that with the loss of the BJP's grip on the southern states of India, it was incumbent on it to make more inroads into the northern states where it has a bigger stake,” said Fr Babu Joseph, former spokesman for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), speaking to AsiaNews.
“That the BJP has fortified its Hindi heartland base goes to show its resolve to make a comeback at the national level in the forthcoming general elections,” he added.
This “may not augur well for some sections of the society, especially those that have been targeted for real or imagined reasons. However, one earnestly hopes that the ruling party will deliver on its promises of development for all in a fair and non-partisan manner."
As for Chhattisgarh, observers believe that the election results show disaffection with Congress rather than outright support for the BJP.
In areas inhabited by Adivasis, indigenous tribal groups, voters complained that Congress failed to implement its promises, in particular the recognition of the decisions of tribal councils to control their lands.
Christian villages have also accused Congress of not doing enough to protect the religious minority from attacks by Hindu extremists.
Instead, Congress, which is led by Rahul Gandhi at the national level, promised to increase the bonus paid to rice farmers over the past five years, a promise that even the BJP will easily keep.
According to experts, the Congress, trying to get more votes from the Hindu sections of the population, was beaten at its own game.