From double engine to double election

While the Government’s thrust is a powered partnership between the Centre and the BJP ruled states, the double election is focussing on 2024 and 2029 at one go to electorally deliver a power punch


“My sister, don’t worry about anything, your brother is always with you…Aapka baccho ka mama hu mein, I am uncle to your children.”

“My brother has said he will worry about my children and family”.

These are not lines from a film; nor are they scripted. This is a real life situation when incidents took both a dramatic and violent turn.  

The children’s mamaji was none other than a former Chief Minister of a state that he had ruled for well over sixteen years. And the sister: thirty-year old Samina B. 

When Samina B had reportedly voted for the BJP, she had not fathomed that hell would break loose. That apart, what added fuel to fire was that she went ahead and celebrated the BJP’s victory in the recently concluded Assembly elections. 

Unable to digest what was seen as Samina’s defiance, she was beaten black and blue as it were. Not to give in, Samina filed a complaint alleging that her brother-in-law, Javed, had started abusing her. When she protested, he mercilessly beat her with a stick. “I said I voted for the BJP, that’s why they won. He asked me why I voted for the BJP and later beat me up with a wooden stick,” Samina said, adding that she voted for the BJP because “its policies benefited her.”

Apart from this being inhuman and a gross injustice, this prompted the then Chief Minister of the state Shivraj Singh Chouhan to reach out and offer help; as a brother would to a sister. 

“A sister came to me…she had voted for the BJP,” Chouhan said in Bhopal. Chouhan said that Samina B had exercised her right by casting her vote: a right which everyone enjoys under the Constitution.

Samina is not alone in reiterating the women centric policies of the BJP. Nor is Madhya Pradesh the only state to take the lead in its women empowerment programmes; be it a monthly cash assistance, two wheelers to meritorious girl students or giving cash benefits at the birth of a girl child. 

Chouhan is credited with wooing women voters and dramatically altering the electoral fortunes of the state despite predictions to the contrary. Women voters are on record to state that women centric schemes, apart from making them financially strong, have inculcated a sense of self respect: “A sense of liberation” as some women described it.  

 If statistics are anything to go by, the women voter turnout rose by 2 percent: from 74 percent in 2018 to 76 percent in this election. This, according to political analysts, was the “game changer”. Some went as far as calling it a “women centric” election. 

While other states may have failed to replicate the women power that steered Madhya Pradesh, at least visibly, there is no denying the fact that the gender quotient did work for the BJP as a whole. 

Samina B may have stood out in backing a party that the Muslim community, to which she belongs, abhors, yet hers is not the rarest of rare cases. There are many outside Chouhan’s state who have perhaps followed Samina B’s footsteps much to the chagrin and perhaps wrath of their respective families. Yet, they stood their ground. 

In this context, one cannot take away the fact that under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP government banned triple talaq or instant divorce, which even if it does not qualify to be a game changer, certainly did go a long way in demonstrating that women are at the core of this government’s decision making. 

Call it tokenism if you will but the fact that the man pronouncing triple talaq can be punished under the law, gave Muslim women a sense of power that had been so far denied to them. Add to this, the fact that it was a government perceived to be anti-minority that had come forward to do what “secular” governments in the past had not done. 

Muslim women apart, policies and schemes for women in general have been the hallmark of Prime Minister Modi’s nine years in governance.

The list of gender-neutral schemes is rather long but a look at schemes targeted at women tell the story. Call it ‘Nari shakti’ if you will but starting from building toilets to free cooking gas to bank accounts, and you have it all. The cutting edge however is the ownership rights for women in property which apart from giving a push to gender justice also gives them a tool for self-reliance and in one sense stubs patriarchy. 

How much this would really show up on ground only time will tell, but it is a good beginning and a clear signal that women are at the core of Prime Minister Modi’s development agenda. 

Critics have slammed this as yet another of the BJP’s publicity gimmick on grounds that “nothing has actually changed”. Others substitute “nothing” with “not much”. 

Either way, the BJP seems to be on a roll. If the recently concluded elections are any indication wherein the BJP swept the polls, the saffron party has outpolled the Opposition. Of the five states that went to the polls, BJP bagged three, asserting its electoral might in the Hindi heartland. 

Understandably the BJP is gung-ho, happily concluding that the 2024 elections are in their pocket as it were. 

Given that politics is an uncertain game, this may or may not be true. The rank and file may be rejoicing but the leadership is not letting its guard down. While upbeat and claiming to look at “2029 rather than 2024”, it is doing what it takes to further secure its position in the upcoming general elections while paving the way for the “next’s next”: read 2024 and 2029 to put it simply. 

On a lighter note, the BJP seems to have put its double engine ki sarkar slogan to the double election ka lakshya spiel. 

Decode this and it clearly means that while the Government’s thrust is a powered partnership between the Centre and the BJP ruled states for optimum benefit, the double election is focussing on 2024 and 2029 at one go to electorally deliver a power punch, spread well over the next five years. Call it strategy or wishful thinking but the game has clearly begun. That the Opposition is yet to get its act together is another matter.