Justice Markandey Katju-
Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own.
Elections are due in 2022 for state assemblies in eight states in India, including the most important state Uttar Pradesh, for which elections are due in February 2022. Parliamentary elections are due in 2024.
Many people talk of the decline of the popularity of the BJP due to mishandling of the covid crisis, farmers’ distress, growing unemployment, price rise, etc. However, in my opinion, despite all this, the BJP will win both the UP and Lok Sabha elections, as also in several states like Gujarat, Goa, Uttarakhand, etc
My reasons are as follows :
(1) Experience has shown that in India when most people go to vote they do not consider real issues like poverty, unemployment, price rise, malnourishment, corruption, etc, nor the merits or demerits of the candidate ( i.e. whether he is a good man or not, educated or not, etc ), but only see the caste or religion of the candidate ( or the caste or religion which his party represents ). That is why there are so many legislators in India with criminal antecedents.
(2) Though the Indian Constitution says that India is a secular country, the ground reality is very different. Most Hindus in India are communal, and so are most Muslims. Since almost 80% of Indians are Hindus, this naturally gives an advantage to the BJP which claims to represent Hindus.
No doubt Hindus are divided on caste lines, and only upper-caste Hindus ( Brahmins, Rajputs, Vaishyas, Bhumihars, etc ) can be said to be solidly with BJP, yet the other castes ( OBCs and SCs ) also unite with the upper castes when communal passions are aroused, as happened during the Ram Mandir agitation and Advani’s rath yatra, in Gujarat in 2002, or in Muzaffarnagar in 2013.
Such passions can easily be aroused by artificially creating a communal riot e.g. over alleged killing of cows by Muslims, or demolition of a prominent mosque and claiming it was a temple earlier demolished by Muslim invaders..
(3) There is no real opposition to the BJP in UP or for parliamentary elections. Congress is practically a dead party, with many important leaders like Jyotiraditya Scindia and Jitin Prasad having defected to the BJP, and many others disgruntled by Sonia and Rahul Gandhi’s high handed style of functioning, which has brought the party to its lowest ebb.
Recently Sharad Pawar, the Maharashtra politician, spoke of forming a united front of regional parties against the BJP, but such a united front will be like a multi-headed hydra or Ravana, with no common ideology ( except profession of secularism, which is really forgetting the Muslim votes ). Even assuming they win in the elections, a hectic scramble will then begin for grabbing lucrative portfolios like Finance, Industry, Commerce, Home, etc, since Indian politicians are only interested in power and pelf, have no principles, and are not interested in the public welfare ( while shouting the contrary from the rooftops ).
(4) When a party goes to the polls it must have a positive agenda. For instance, Indira Gandhi gave the slogan ‘Garibi hatao’ ( abolish poverty ). Whatever its worth, it was a positive slogan, and people fell for it and voted for Congress. The then Opposition only gave the negative slogan ‘Indira hatao’ ( remove Indira ), which appealed to no one.
Similarly, the BJP has a positive slogan ‘Hindutva’, whatever its worth. What does the Opposition have? Nothing, except ‘BJP hatao’, which will only resound in the ears of the 16% Muslim voters.
How then can BJP be defeated?