Friday, October 30, 2009

Right Angle: No point blaming Raj for Sena-BJP defeat (October 26, 2009)

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    • The Congress may have benefited from the entry of another player that cut into the Shiv Sena-BJP votes but this vote-splitting will remain a part of the game as long as the first-past-the-post system exists. Of course, the Congress-NCP was also happy to indulge Raj because it undermined Uddhav Thackeray and the Shiv Sena. But these tactical manoeuvres cannot take away the fact that Raj did appeal to the beleaguered Marathi manoos of urban Maharashtra far more effectively than the Uddhav-led Shiv Sena could manage. Whereas Uddhav was trying to enlarge the social base of the Shiv Sena and transform it into a conventional regional party, Raj was appealing to the core instincts of the old Shiv Sena. The results showed that Uddhav’s social expansion scheme was undercut by losses in the Shiv Sena’s original strongholds. The Shiv Sena may have been reduced to fourth place, even below the BJP, but in terms of social reach and potential it is still well ahead of the MNS.
    • The results suggest that the Shiv Sena-BJP were a casualty of the larger loss of momentum that seems to be afflicting the NDA and the BJP in particular. The Congress has consistently nourished its own social constituency through a combination of Centrally-funded welfare schemes and symbolism (Rahul Gandhi’s cultivation of Dalits being a prime example).
    • That is because elections aren’t won by booth committees but by the popular mood. That is where the real disconnect lies.