Elections 2009: A Decisive Mandate for the Congress-led UPA

As a Friend of BJP, I am obviously disappointed by the results. But the bright side of it is that the country will have a stable Congress-led UPA government for the next five years. I just hope that there is a positive development and good governance agenda that is pursued quickly because there are many unfinished things that we need to get done in India across various sectors.

This was one election I watched closely and was involved in at the periphery.  Since morning, I watched the election results coming out at home with a group of friends. Most of us were BJP supporters so the extent of the defeat was quite stunning and unexpected for us.

Here are some immediate thoughts on what the BJP now will have to rebuild itself if it has to offer a credible national alternative to the Congress across all states. It will need to create a presence in the four key states of West Bengal, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu — and this will require a multi-year plan. It will need to work hard in Uttar Pradesh to regain its pre-eminence. It may have to think of going it alone in many states so as to build a deeper presence. It will have to build a deeper and bring to the forefront the next-generation of leadership. More importantly, the party will have a make a choice (as Shekhar Gupta wrote in the Indian Express recently) — does it go go the way of the Hindu Right or the Centre Right? Or is there a middle path that is more inclusive?

Every crisis presents an opportunity – and that is how the BJP must look at the national vote. Even though it may have only have lost a small number of seats and not lost much voteshare on a national basis, the results are way below what the expectations were. And as such, it requires a rethink at multiple levels to rebuild the party and regain the confidence of the nation.

For me, personally, these four months have been a wonderful experience, even as I would have liked a different ending. I, along with others, do plan to continue the Friends of BJP movement that we have started – and hope we can help in a constructive way with our inputs to the party as it seeks to change. Our engagement with the political process has just started – and is long-term.

112 thoughts on “Elections 2009: A Decisive Mandate for the Congress-led UPA

  1. Pingback: Elections 2009: A Decisive Mandate for the Congress-led UPA < It’s all about the trends

  2. Rajesh,

    There is that unmistakably sinking feeling in the stomach when one realises that one is on the losing side, and particularly when one has been very vocal and active about one’s support and stances.

    I realise what you must be going through but it was a nice and worthwhile effort. Also there is nothing wrong in speaking up for what is to be spoken, even when one is out of tune with the times and its messaage.

    It is always difficult to campaign for a party and yet retain ones sense of judgement. For someone like you to support someone like Advani is itself an act of internal coercion. But for that partisan tilt towards the BJP, you have presented your case for India’s developement and your dissatisfaction with the pace of progress with elan and dignity. Nothing wrong and everything right…I would say

    I guess I did say earlier that your effort was timely and is a pointer to the future of Indian politics, an India as awakened as Nehru wanted it to be.

    It is clear that India needs to clean up its governance and without citizen led feedback no government in power is going to do that. The loss should act like a spur and encourage people like you to set up precisely that, a monitoring site for good governance, not in terms of political war mongering but in terms of benefits and well thought out plans for the majority.

    The time to start is now!

    And better luck with the coin next time!

  3. Rajesh – BJP has to reinvent itself. It cannot choose to take the hardline path. It has to be all
    inclusive party. Also all us have to focus on the poor of India. I am not saying that middle class is not important but if a nation is predominanatly poor then the focus has to be to get the poor to become middle class.

    Vishal

  4. I feel bad for Mr. Advani. He deserved a victory.

    But any ways, whenever I lose something I read this poem by Dushyant Kumar.
    अगर इस लड़ाई में मेरी साँसें उखड़ गईं,
    मेरे बाज़ू टूट गए,
    मेरे चरणों में आंधियों के समूह ठहर गए,
    मेरे अधरों पर तरंगाकुल संगीत जम गया,
    या मेरे माथे पर शर्म की लकीरें खिंच गईं,
    तो मुझे पराजित मत मानना,
    समझना –
    तब और भी बड़े पैमाने पर
    मेरे हृदय में असन्तोष उबल रहा होगा,
    मेरी उम्मीदों के सैनिकों की पराजित पंक्तियाँ
    एक बार और
    शक्ति आज़माने को
    धूल में खो जाने या कुछ हो जाने को
    मचल रही होंगी ।
    एक और अवसर की प्रतीक्षा में
    मन की क़न्दीलें जल रही होंगी ।

  5. Here’s a thought, since you’re involved as a Friend of the BJP:

    Perhaps they can try changing the game. Its not merely the elections and voting and immediate campaigning around it that make up a democracy.

    Could the BJP reinvigorate the idea of ground level engagement ? My constituency will have a BJP MP. Could the guy help create focus groups amongst citizens for both local issues, and national ones and wider ? Could they figure out methods and create platforms to understand the pulse of the folks in their constituency better ? Could they then try and push it up the party chain, and try and vote accordingly in parliament?

    Playing the same old game is the easy way out, but less convincing, and without the shriller noises, the party might just blend into an amorphous mass of polity. Ground level efforts for real engagement might both reinvigorate the party as well as Indian democracy (beyond the “I-voted” version we’re getting so worked up about).

    – Sameer

  6. I was talking with a friend of mine in Pune about the election results, expressing my disappointment. More than the results, what struck me was his attempt at consoling me when he said, “India is a third-rate country. What do you expect — a first-rate government for a third-rate country?”

    Yes, I still expect a first-rate government even through reason says that it will inevitably be a third-rate government because the people desire it to be so.

    That’s unreasonable but all progress gets its start from unreasonable expectations.

  7. I haven’t looked in dipper to compare the overall % drop in BJP votes compare to 2004 elections but certainly it’s way below what I’ve thought this year. In my opinion, it was a close race but I’m completely disappointed and socked with the results.

    Apart from the things you have mentioned such as going alone in some of the states and start creating individual presence in those states, I would also think that BGP should also need to maintain strong control in the states where everybody thinks BGP is strong but loose heavily e.g. Rajasthan and Delhi where BJP lost miserably, consecutively twice including state assembly elections last year.

    Rajesh,

    As a BJP supporter sitting miles away from India, I appreciate you initiative and work done to educate folks to come out, vote and chose the correct party this time. I hope you will continue to help to build strong BJP foundations for next elections.

    I’ll write up in details my thoughts what BJP and of course friends of BGP should do in next 5 years to come back again….

    Thanks much,
    Kishore
    San Jose, CA

  8. zindagi ki yahi reet hai…..haar ke baad he jeet hai…

    Cheer up ..every body
    We will win next elections!

  9. This is a victory for India. The way I look at the results is that the forces most weakened during this election are the obstructionist parties – communist, lalu, jayalalitha. This is good for India, and for further economic reforms.

    The best thing that happened was that Congress got a decisive mandate; a fractured mandate would have been terrible.

    As for the BJP, they really have to tone down religious rhetoric to be acceptable to broader section of Indian populace, including Hindus like me.

    And Atanu – as for your friend, who called India a “3rd rate country”, hell with him. If he doesn’t like India, let him get the hell out of there.

  10. I think a vote for stability, and a clear mandate is a good one.

    I worry though that this win steers the BJP into the hands of hardliners like Modi (good governance notwithstanding) and worse, the Sangh Parivar. The BJP like the old white Republican Party loosing relevance..

    We do need a good opposition. Its not clear to me we have it. Perhaps it is time for the sensible aspects of the BJP to get together with sensible aspects elsewhere and form a new party, based on grassroots participation as opposed to dynasties, real secularism (not vote banking),
    and sensible economic policies and nationalism.

  11. Rajesh,

    it is heartening to know you are a BJP supporter like me.
    The election results were disheartening but it only brings in a more steely resolve to not just sit behind a computer but do some kind of ground work to make our effort shine the next elections.
    Why I support BJP (having travelled and lived for 4+ years the world over mainly US) is the utter lack of basic infrastructure. Its a sureshot sign of failed policies of the Congress rule 50-30-20 years back which are showing now. The current policies of UPA will show its true color 50 years from now. This appeasement has to stop. Appeasement of the minorities.

    We need to prepare a framework to work on for the next 5 years and share ideas and results to cement our resolve.

    JAI HIND

  12. Dear Rajesh,

    The BJP is a hardline party full of criminals and I can hardly see them re-inventing themself. Why do you want them to change to become what congress is today?. Just work for congress. You might want to spend of your energies in making the new government work faster than thinking of alternatives

    PS – There are more sensible majority Indians than hardline hindus or muslims. I am one of them and My Vote was for the Congress

    best

  13. mockingbuddha.wordpress.com

    (i apologise for this rather long comment)

    The easiest way to characterise the results of this election would be this…

    LK Advani – Retired Hurt.

    Which in a sense is good for India. I have nothing personal against LK Advani. I merely hate what he stands for. I have seen that as a person he is more gracious and civil than most leaders that inhabit other parties including the Congress, but a leader is less a human being than a image.

    What LK Advani stands for represents something anachronistic to the current state of the Indian nation, its polity, its dreams and current requirements.

    LK Advani was certainly relevant when the Indian middle class, not the professionals, the trader middle class wanted to feel a sense on achievement in having arrived, and was wanting to stamp its presence in the Indian polity. But that was way back in the late eighties.

    [Rest of the comment elided for length by editor.]

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  18. Rajesh, sent an email to you. Posting this comment in case you do not check the email address you gave here on a regular basis. Thanks.

  19. I think the big lesson for BJP here is that it cannot keep recycling its old agenda every time. India has changed a lot during the last decade or so and the party has to adapt as well. As an Indian Muslim, I feel that a strong 2-party system is necessary and like everyone else, I also want to be able to make a choice between the two major parties. However, at the moment, the BJP seems have willingly or otherwise given up on people like me. It’s almost as if we don’t exist, except when BJP has to attack Congress on some real/pseudo Muslim issue.

  20. BJP is a good , but the least understood party. They have more or less tied themselves and need to break free to make meaningful contribution to India’s progress.

    I am very happy that Congress has won the elections on own and will provide a stable governance for a period of 5 years. At least, we will not have to face the elections on account of Laloo, Mulayam, Mayawati etc.

    For the good of India, we need a strong Congress and a strong BJP. If you see how Mayawati has offered unconditional support to Cong, you will understand what I mean by this.

    I suggest that BJP needs to:

    a) Involve more youngsters in the party

    b) Concentrate on an ideology on India. As a Hindu, I do not need support of BJP to survive or to raise my head in the Society.

    c) Involve minorities in the party and give them tickets to represent their cause is all type of elections.

    d) Build a succession plan for Advani, else there will be in-fighting.

    I am sure Arun Jaitley, Arun Shourie and other intellectuals will sit over all this. We need a party that focuses on India, Indians and Youth.

    All of us can take good care of our religion.

    Thanks

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  24. Pingback: Blog Past: UPA’s Victory in the 2009 Elections

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