December 18, 2017 marked another milestone in Indian political scenario with Himachal and Gujarat wins recorded by the Right wing party - Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP). It was very interesting scene to the final results that all the major politicians as well as media houses had their priorities set for Gujarat; why not it is the home state for the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP Party president. For them a lot was at stake, but why the Indian National Congress (INC or Congress) was training its guns for the Gujarat Elections rather than additionally focusing on Himachal? Straight forward reason, if they would have won Gujarat elections, that would have given them a much needed boost and momentum to look forward for the general elections in 2019.
By far we saw a lot of dramatics from both the BJP and the INC where they went overboard to woo the voters and still both of them failed miserably. BJP faced much worse a failure than what INC failed as if we look back at the results, INC gained additional seat from what they had in 2012 and also gained ample vote share crossing 40% mark. But INC did fail to make a mark with the voters even though they tried to ride the "Hindutva" sentiments.
There is a lot of learning from the so called success as well as failure of both the parties in Gujarat and they can be listed as -
- Complacency never helps garner support as if you grow complacent, you tend to become arrogant and this is what BJP leaders need to learn from the Gujarat Elections
- Never divert your attention from where you have been strong, ensure that sufficient balance is maintained between you strong and weak foot. INC leaders need to learn this from their losses in Himachal and Gujarat. They should not have solely focused on Gujarat and neglect Himachal.
- Caste based division may help you garner additional votes, but they wouldn't help you actually win. INC needs to learn this as the face of Young Indians is not caste, they prefer development and that should be the main focus to ensure that a right message goes to the voters
- Portraying yourself that you are not will only create confusion and there are way many more than you can actually think to expose your truth. INC must learn this from Gujarat results. Rahul Gandhi can't portray as a Hindu when he was said to be Baptized in Italy and had a catholic upbringing. Jut putting on Janeu (Sacred Thread) doesn't mark you as Hindu or Brahmin, you need to showcase that in your behavior and the life that you lead
- Transparency is very important and no amount of sops would help you garner the support that you need if you don't maintain transparency. The voters now are way more informed than in past with electronic media reaching in the reach of their palm. It is important that any policy and procedure should be well drafted and communicated to ensure that masses understand it the way it should be and don't get influenced by any skewed version
- When you walk out there, walk out with polite attitude and not sugar coated or arrogant. People have shed that process off where they used to look at party symbol or a single candidate. Now they vote on merit
- For local elections, please ensure that local issues are discussed rather than trying to cross pollinate with other states or the national level. demographic and other differences have a big impact on perception of schemes of development across the nation v/s a specific state
The learning is equal for both INC and BJP.
I suppose that the BJP brass would have got that subtle zig "Jor ka jhatka dhire se lage", that was much needed to hit their arrogance and complacency that they developed after winning at the center and then in Uttar Pradesh. They should have played better and they should from here play better to improve their vote share.
On the contrary, INC needs to focus on what actually worked in their favor in Gujarat in particular, certainly not the Hindutva agenda nor the Hardik Patel effect. They should also look at the aspect where they lost in Himachal and the main reason they could win a few seats there.
Both the parties need to focus on their wins and losses o be able to prepare for the general elections in 2019. They both would be getting a few chances midway to test their strategies and ensure that they carry their learning forward to turn the tables during 2019 general elections.
One thing for sure, INC would give a tough fight to BJP, if BJP wouldn't take learnings from their loss in Gujarat Election and it may actually result in a hung parliament with coalition government at the center!!