KT edit: Indian voters find their voice again
Rajasthan and Chattisgarh states have gone to the Congress, while it's a see-saw in Madhya Pradesh.
The Indian ruling party's juggernaut has been halted in the North, Centre, South and Northeast of the country. Voters in states have emerged as the true victors despite the polarisation of society and polity by parties who played to the galleries of caste, religion, victimhood and majoritarian nationalism like they always do, only this time it was worse. The two main parties, the BJP and the Congress battled on the hard and soft Hindutva planks respectively, but voters saw through their designs with disdain and have produced a verdict that calls for introspection on the state of federalism and pluralism. Rajasthan and Chattisgarh states have gone to the Congress, while it's a see-saw in Madhya Pradesh, with a regional party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, set to become king-maker.
Experts would like to call it an anti-incumbency vote but the focus of the ruling party on issues that concern bovines more than humans, and PM Narendra Modi's silence on the violence that followed, hurt the party's prospects at retaining power. The opposition Congress capitalised on the BJP's cow politics with its version of majority appeasement. The other feet was planted in the minority votebank. But people cast their ballots with confidence for a just and fair verdict. They proved they have a mind of their own; they demanded performance over petty politics, and the results are a clear vindication of their combined stand.
What's also interesting is that regional parties continue to hold sway in their bastions as witnessed in the thumping wins by the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) and the Mizo National Front (MNF. Perhaps, it is a victory of identity politics. While the results prove the BJP can be defeated in the Hindi heartland, it also shows the chinks in the opposition Congress's armour ahead of next year's general elections. A shaky leadership that cannot make up its mind is still a matter of concern. An alternative model of governance may be too much to ask in this climate of hate. The majority and minority cards are the sole cards left for politicians, but if there is a lesson to be learnt from these polls, it is this: The voters demand nothing short of inclusive politics and steady growth. More importantly, they will not be taken for a religious ride by politicians of any hue.