Typing Test


With the BJP landslide in UP, seen as a bastion for regional parties such as SP and BSP, the tectonic plates of Indian politics have shifted. Of the other four state elections BJP also swept Uttarakhand, made creditable progress in Manipur and suffered from anti incumbency in Punjab ? where it was junior partner to Akali Dal ? and in Goa. If one combines these results with the recent victory in Assam and Maharashtra civic elections ? where too the party did well ? BJP has established its ascendancy in national politics where it is more powerful than ever before. In UP, India's pivotal state, BJP has performed the phenomenal feat of taking its vote share upto 40% from 15% in the last assembly election, close to three years after it came to power in the Centre. Among other things, this could mean BJP is cruising smoothly on the expressway towards victory in Lok Sabha elections two years hence. With BJP dwarfing other national parties one could even call it the new Congress. This is BJP's unipolar moment, recalling the days of Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi when Congress dominated national politics. Above all this UP election witnessed a de Mandalisation of Indian politics ? upending many of its traditional postulates ? as BJP attracted a fair number of non Yadav OBC votes as well as non Jatav Dalit votes to achieve its sweeping victory. Moreover, parties calling themselves 'secular' often take it as an article of faith that the path to election victory is by cultivating the minority vote, and this is best done by appealing to clerics or otherwise conservative minority 'leaders'. With too many parties playing the same game the minority vote tends to split, while BJP is left alone to reap the benefits of majority consolidation. That Prime Minister Narendra Modi campaigned successfully in UP on the strength of his own persona rather than local leaders or CM candidates has drawn comparison to Indira Gandhi's leadership style. Indeed, Modi's demonetisation drive has paralleled Indira Gandhi's 'garibi hatao' and bank nationalisation drives in terms of achieving a 'pro poor' positioning for the PM, cutting across caste or sectional appeals. However, Modi must now use the enhanced space and trust he has earned from Indians to different ends than Indira Gandhi. This means 'no' to economic populism and 'no' to autocracy or majoritarianism. That is how the Congress empire crumbled, there are important lessons to be learnt there. When Arvind Kejriwal says he will make Delhi look like London it's dejà vu. For we have already heard Mamata Banerjee express a desire to turn Kolkata into the London of the East. Things should get really exciting if the two chief ministers now get into a competition on this front. But first citizens must get clarity about which century's London is being emulated. The way in which the garbage menace has grown in Delhi under the Kejriwal government, one is reminded how London's sewers were once open ditches sloping through its streets and marketplaces into the Thames. As for Mamata's tallest London like achievement it is London lite, a Big Ben tower that is actually a Chota Ben, about one third the original's size. Still, nobody can miss her colourful stamp on the city. Houses and government offices, roundabouts and flyovers, public toilets and footpaths, even taxis have gotten a blue makeover ? where red used to rule. Sadly other leftovers of communist rule like political violence and populism remain less than a scratch away. Actually what this game of colours really shows is how unfulfilled promises leave citizens bruised black and blue. It's painful to remember how more than a decade ago then chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh had made Mumbai dream of becoming Shanghai. The gap between the two metropolises has only grown more unsurpassable since then. Some would say one looks like a sci