BJP getting ready for Lok Sabha poll in 2018
A trial baloon is being hoisted by BJP to achieve its objective of holding simultaneous poll for State Assemblies and Lok Sabha by going for early poll for Lok Sabha along with eight States who will be going to poll in 2018 instead of 2019 when the poll for Lok Sabha is due. This can be achieved as BJP rules all States which have to go to poll in 2018. The gamble of dissolving Lok Sabha before it was due was tried by BJP in 2004 also but it did not work and Congress led United Progressive front came to power.
This time the objective is different, as BJP wants to make the poll to be Modi-centric and thus help State leaders to overcome the incumbency that they are facing. It is known to all that BJP is facing incumbency in States like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Maharashtra. By linking polls in these States with Lok Sabha BJP hopes that popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi will work in their favour.
This will also help BJP to achieve its objective of holding simultaneous poll for Lok Sabha and in States which has been advocated by Prime Minister and endorsed by President in his address to joint session of parliament. A start will be made even if the goal of simultaneous poll will remain a distant feature as the same will require constitutional amendments which require two third majority. With opposition parties opposed to any such move, the goal will remain a dream difficult to change into reality.
Before such a change is introduced many questions will have to be answered. For instance if the ruling party at Center or in any state looses majority before the term is completed will it be denied popular rule till national poll is held. Problem could become even more complicated if the Government at Center falls in case of desertion by members or any other reason. These are some of the cases where immediate poll may become necessary.
Even merits of simultaneous polls are doubtful. For instance issues in poll for Lok Sabha and State Assemblies are different and voters exercise a choice which may differ in both the polls. It may also be noted that India instead of adopting presidential form of Government has opted for Federal structure in which power is shared between the Center and States.
The model for India is to provide self rule at the lowest level that is Panchayats and not to centralise the same. In present days, States ability to raise finances has been considerably reduced making them dependent on Center. Which in turn has made local bodies and panchayats powerless. Diversification of power is considered necessary if planning is to be undertaken at micro level instead of concentration of power in few hands at the top.
BJP’s desire to turn the poll from a contest between the political parties and candidates into a contest between personalities will lead to concentration of power instead of strengthening democracy where candidates get elected to Lok sabha and they elect their leader. A situation where power remains in the hand of few at the top will not strengthen democracy but pull us towards a limited form of dictatorship. BJP which in the past has been opposed to concentration of power in the hands of few and had opposed dynasty rule has suddenly started glorifying personalities.
Some have gone to the extent of competing with others in glorifying leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi because they feel that he alone is able to win elections for them. In this progress their agenda and program has taken a back seat, while leadership is being glorified. It is time BJP realises that by using Mr Modi for all polls from local bodies to State Assemblies and Lok Sabha, a law of diminishing returns has started operating.
As witnessed in Gujarat poll, the appeal is not working beyond a point and BJP will have to start performing instead of depending on the personality cult. A simultaneous poll may look attractive at present but will not work in long run. Work at ground level and leadership at all level’s is necessary to perform in a large country like India and to win polls.
(Brij Bhardwaj is a veteran journalist and commentator)