Barely one year into office Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP government has suffered a massive electoral setback. The Common Man’s Party led by former 46-year-old revenue service officer turned anti-corruption crusader, Arvind Kejriwal, has swept the recent Delhi state assembly polls, securing 67 out of 70 seats!
Modi became the BJP and the BJP Modi and, therefore, the Delhi election became a referendum on his style of governance. Its outcome argues the point that he is no longer the flavour of the month in Indian politics.
PM Modi has put a bold face on the electoral disaster and the BJP propagandists are busy trying to downplay it. But, obviously he and his party are shattered. The massive setback is a sure sign of growing public disillusionment with the governance by slogans under the Saffron regime.
Following his spectacular win last year PM Modi was praised for having launched one of the world’s biggest advertising campaigns very successfully. He had also used the social media very innovatively to achieve his goal, we were told. In fact, his PR experts succeeded in repackaging and remarketing the Gujarati Chief Minister at the national level very effectively. But, why did his advertising wizards and cyber virtuosi fail to deliver at the Delhi polls? Something seems to have gone terribly wrong with the Modi brand.
Was the BJP trounced in Delhi owing to Indians’ love for good governance and other such lofty ideals Kejriwal has come to be identified with? If so, how would one explain Modi’s humiliating defeat at the hands of Jayalalithaa in Tamil Nadu at the last Lok Sabha elections? It is a supreme irony that Kejriwal, an errant knight in shining armour on a mission to slay the two-headed dragon of bribery and corruption has succeeded in doing to Modi exactly what Jayalalithaa, accused of corruption (for which she was subsequently sentenced to jail) did to the BJP in her state. Her ‘Amma Wave’ halted the Modi Tsunami with her AIADMK securing 37 out of 39 Lok Sabha seats with the Saffron Party reduced to two. In other words, Modi’s party has been routed by the corrupt and the (supposedly) uncorrupted alike in Tamil Nadu and Delhi respectively albeit at two different elections.
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa may have stopped believing in astrology the day his bid to secure a third term came a cropper. (The poor palace seer has gone out of circulation ever since!) But, PM Modi’s ignominious defeat may have bolstered Rajapaksa’s belief in karma greatly. UPFA backers have alleged that India helped their opponents oust President Rajapaksa and effect a regime change here. Within one month of Rajapaksa’s ouster the writing has appeared on the wall for the Modi government. Rajapaksa may call it ditta dhamma vedaniya kamma (which takes effect immediately)!
Modi, during his winning streak, became a source of inspiration for some Sri Lankan politicians. Maithripala Sirisena put himself in the Modi jacket and went on to win the presidency, making almost the same promises as the Indian PM. Now that Kejriwal has KO’d Modi in Delhi the Modi jacket may no longer be in vogue. Will anyone here want to don the Kejriwal suit complete with his trademark cap?
There is space in Sri Lankan politics for a movement like the Common Man’s Party to emerge because those who promised, before the Jan. 08 presidential election, to haul the corrupt up before courts have failed to make good their promise. They are now asking the people to provide them with information about corruption under the previous government for action to be taken! Leaders of the previous government are moving about freely. It has been a case of all bark and no bite!
But, the question is whether we will ever be able to find an honest politician to emulate Kejriwal and mobilise the people who are fed up with bogus messiahs against corruption.