Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Category: India

BJP losses in by-elections

Modi government came to power on 26/5/2014.  After that it has been downhill for BJP in by-elections.

In Uttarakhand there were by-elections for three Legislative Assembly seats.  Two of these were due to BJP MLAs resigning after winning Lok Sabha elections.  BJP lost all three.

In Bihar there were by-elections for ten Legislative Assembly seats.  BJP lost four of the eight seats it had held.

In Karnataka BJP lost Bellary seat.

In Uttar Pradesh there were by-elections for eleven Legislative Assembly seats.  Ten were held by BJP, one by its ally Apna Dal.  BJP lost seven, Apna Dal lost its seat.

In Gujarat there were by-elections for nine Legislative Assembly seats, all held by BJP.  BJP lost three.

In Rajasthan there were by-elections for four Legislative Assembly seats, all held by BJP. BJP lost three.

BJP gained two seats; one in Assam and one in West Bengal.  Overall it was dismal performance for BJP.

What went wrong for BJP?  What did BJP’s enemies do right?  Some BJP members blamed candidate selection and sabotage for losses.  Sudhanshu Mittal said two candidates in Rajasthan were wrong.  But such things do not explain overall loss.

Modi had made many promises.  Expectations were high.  Prices of essential commodities did not come down.  In some cases they went up.  There was disappointment.  Someone said tomatoes cost as much as petrol.

In Bihar Congress, JD(U) and RJD came together in a coalition against BJP.  In UP BSP did not field candidates and that benefitted SP.

Modi spoke of development and got votes.  In UP BJP leaders talked of love jihad.  Yogi Adityanath did not talk of development.  He spoke of love jihad.  Sakshi Maharaj said madrasas are training Muslim youth in terrorism and love jihad.  A Muslim young man gets 11 lakh rupees for affair with a Sikh girl, 10 lakh rupees for Hindu girl and 7 lakh rupees for Jain girl.  In Jaipur Maneka Gandhi said “Money through trade of slaughtered animals goes into terrorism and therefore into killing us.”  Such statements did not help BJP.

It is reality check for BJP, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.  The euphoria generated during Lok Sabha elections has dissipated.  After Lok Sabha victory Narendra Modi had said Rajnath Singh was captain and Amit Shah was Man of the Match.  Narendra Modi wanted Amit Shah as BJP President and that happened.  Amit Shah was hailed as a strategist.  Within four months Amit Shah’s strategy has failed.  He selected candidates.  Blame for failure will be on him.

Sometimes BJP spokespersons do not do a good job in defending Narendra Modi.  Some journalists are hostile to Narendra Modi.  They connect unrelated issues to him and want to blame him.  Karan Thapar once asked Shaina N. C. about Modi’s silence on the murder of a techie in Poona.  She said she was appalled.  She should have said law and order is a state subject and Maharashtra’s chief minister or home minister should be questioned about this.  Bhupendra Choube connected K. Chandrasekhara Rao’s statement against journalists to Narendra Modi referring to journalists as news traders.  There was no BJP spokesperson.  May be CNN-IBN did not invite any BJP spokesperson as the issue was non-telecast of two TV channels in Telangana.  Rajdeep Sardesai is now with Headlines Today as consulting editor.  For three and half months he was not seen on TV.

Something is seriously wrong if vote share of a party goes down in a constituency within four months.  The excuse of local elections being different than national elections does not work here because BJP had held those seats earlier.  Lok Sabha victory is history.  Congress has bounced back in Rajasthan and Gujarat.  SP has emerged stronger in UP.  BJP has tough competition ahead.  It cannot take victories in Haryana and Maharashtra for granted.

90 Days of Modi Government

The government headed by Narendra Modi came to power on 26/5/2014.  From 26/5/2014 to 2/9/2014 it is 100 days, both days included: 6 days in May, 30 days in June, 31 days in July, 31 days in August, and 2 days in September.  When 90 days got over CNBC TV18 and CNN-IBN talked of 100 Days of Modi Government.  Business and news channels are expected to get their maths right.  When that does not happen it appears the people who prepare such reports do not know how to count or want to mislead people.  Later on CNN-IBN one anchor said it is 92 days of Modi Government and 8 days are left for completion of 100 days.  On CNBC TV18 one anchor said 100 Days of Modi Government since election results.  This is a twisted and wrong argument.  The government does not begin when election results are declared.  It begins with swearing-in.  Journalists should avoid exaggerations.  During Lok Sabha elections CNN-IBN talked of A Billion Votes.  John Oliver pointed out that India’s voters are 800 million and the difference of 200 million is the size of Brazil.  CNN-IBN persisted in its folly.

A few days after swearing-in Modi said, Most governments get 100 days honeymoon period.  I did not get 100 hours.  There was criticism of Jitendra Singh’s comment on Article 370 and appointment of Smriti Irani as HRD Minister.

Modi had raised expectations.  He has failed to fulfil them.  The budget was a dampener.  Inflation continues.  Sensex going up does not make good days for common man.  Prices of food items and daily necessities matter to him.  When they don’t come down he is unhappy and frustrated.

The decision to abolish Planning Commission is good.  The decision to have another commission named National Development Commission or something else is bad.  There should be no new commission.  Yojana Bhavan should be auctioned.  The money from that will reduce budget deficit.

ISIS took over parts of Iraq.  Modi Government was successful in getting nurses out.  Construction workers remained.

V. P. Vaidik meeting Hafiz Saeed created controversy.  News TV coverage of V. P. Vaidik was over top.  Anand Sharma demanded his arrest.  Arun Jaitley said it was a diplomatic misadventure of a private individual.  Sushma Swaraj said government has nothing to do with V. P. Vaidik’s visit.

The decision to withdraw the CBFC certificate to Kaum De Heere because of law and order apprehension is a bad one.  CBFC has its guidelines and certifies accordingly.  There should be no glorification of crime and criminals.  That should apply to all films.  Fear of a section of people creating problem and resorting to violence should not be a ground for withdrawal of certificate.  Whether the film glorifies the assassins is debatable.

Relationship with Pakistan has not made headway.  Firing continues at border.  Foreign Secretary level talks had to be cancelled.  Meanwhile, Nawaz Sharif has his own problems with Imran Khan and Tahir-ul Qadri.

Getting Congress-appointed Governors has been tough for Modi Government and it had partial success.  This is because of a Supreme Court judgment given in 2010 in a petition filed in 2004 by B. P. Singhal against dismissal four BJP-appointed Governors by Congress.  BJP did not benefit from the judgment but now it is in power and unable to dismiss Governors straightaway.   It is said justice delayed is justice denied.  In BJP’s case it was justice delayed is justice boomeranged.  Otherwise Modi would have dismissed Kamla Beniwal on his first day in office.

Modi has not given free rides to journalists of private media on his planes during foreign tours.  He takes DD and AIR journalists.

Modi Government behaved strangely on Israel’s attack on Gaza.  Prakash Javadekar agreed for discussion in Rajya Sabha.  Sushma Swaraj opposed saying he did not have her permission and India had good relations with both Israel and Palestine.  The discussion took place but there was no resolution.  Later India voted against Israel in UN Human Rights Commission.

In recent by-elections BJP has not done well.  In Uttarakhand BJP had won five out of five Lok Sabha seats.  In by-elections for three constituencies in Uttarakhand BJP lost in all three including two which it had held previously.  In Bihar it lost four seats it had held.  In Karnataka it lost one seat it had held.

Passing of National Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2014 and 121st Constitution Amendment Bill was an achievement.  The bills were passed unanimously in Lok Sabha and with one abstention in Rajya Sabha.  The 121st Constitution Amendment Bill awaits ratification by half of state legislatures.

There were rumours of Modi Government conferring Bharat Ratna on Atal Behari Vajpayee, Subhash Chandra Bose, Kanshi Ram, Dhyan Chand and Madan Mohan Malaviya.  TV anchors held discussions on the matter.  Many suggested more names including Sam Maneckshaw, Viswanathan Anand, Jamshetji Tata, Amitabh Bachchan, Dilip Kumar, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Syama Prasad Mookerjee, Deen Dayal Upadhyay, K. S. Hedgewar, Abhinav Bindra, Tenzing Norgay, Parkash Singh Badal, Narendra Dev, Syed Ahmed Khan, Ram Manohar Lohia, NTR, Milkha Singh, Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, Sukhdev, Lala Lajpat Rai, Chandrashekhar Azad, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Annie Besant, A. O. Hume, Bipin Chandra Pal, Rash Behari Bose, Mohan Singh, Birsa Munda and Biju Patnaik.  Sitaram Yechury said we can begin by giving Bharat Ratna to Buddha.  Relatives of supposed nominees took part in discussions.  Ultimately there was no announcement.  It was much ado about nothing.

Modi and ministers

There are reports of Narendra Modi dealing with his ministers in a way different from his predecessors.   They make a good reading or viewing.

Modi wants punctuality.  He wants ministers to be present at office at 9 a.m.  He wants ministers to enforce punctuality on staff members.  We know Prakash Javadekar and Venkaiah Naidu had checked offices at 9 a.m. and many staff members were absent.  The absentees got the message that they have to be present at 9 a.m.  One woman minister belonging to a coalition party was not punctual.  Modi called her on phone.  She said she meets people at home.  Modi told her to meet people in office.  Otherwise bureaucrats will not be punctual.  I suppose that minister is Harsimrat Kaur.

Modi works on Saturdays.  Other ministers and bureaucrats have to work on Saturdays.  I understand Modi works on Sundays but not sure whether other ministers and bureaucrats have to work on Sundays.  Modi should make Saturday a working day for central government employees.  That used to be the case before Rajiv Gandhi made it a holiday.

Modi is against corruption.  One day he called the son of a minister.  He praised him.  During their conversation he told him he has heard he has taken money from an official for transfer.  He told him to return the money.  This son was supposed to be Rajnath Singh’s son Pankaj Singh.  When Pankaj Singh did not get BJP ticket to contest from Noida for UP Legislative Assembly rumours gained ground.  On 27/8/2014 there were reports that Rajnath Singh was unhappy about ministerial colleagues and had complained to RSS.  Around 1.30 p.m. Rajnath Singh met journalists, denied rumours about his son, and said Modi and Amit Shah were surprised when he talked to them about rumours.  Soon PMO issued a statement that rumours about Pankaj Singh were motivated lies and character assassination.

Modi wants ministers not to be subservient to industrialists.  He reprimanded a minister for kowtowing to a mighty industrialist.

Modi wants ministers to put work first.  One minister wanted to go to USA to attend his son’s commencement ceremony.  Modi did not permit him.  He reminded him his duty is to the public.

Modi is the master of his ministers.  He leads by example and others have to fall in line.

Modi has an advantage.  He is the undisputed leader of BJP.  BJP has absolute majority in Lok Sabha.  He can dictate terms to allies.  Allies cannot dictate terms to him.  Prime Ministers from Vishwanath Pratap Singh to Manmohan Singh did not have that advantage.

Some things Modi has done are strange.  He did not appoint any Defence Minister and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley continues to hold additional charge of Defence.  After Gopinath Munde’s death Nitin Gadkari holds additional charge of portfolios held by Gopinath Munde.  Vijay Kumar Singh could have been made Defence Minister.  He was army chief.  Instead he is Minister of State for External Affairs.  Smriti Irani is 38 and she has cabinet rank.  V. K. Singh who is above 60 is Minister of State.  He did not want his ministers to have anyone associated with UPA regime in their personal staff but gave extension to cabinet secretary whose term had expired.  He wanted Congress appointed Governors to quit.  When some of them quit there were no immediate replacements.  Governors of neighbouring states were given temporary charge.  He did not want discussion on Israel’s attack on Gaza in Rajya Sabha but India voted against Israel in United Nations Commission on Human Rights.  Visit to Japan was postponed twice.

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