It’s official: Hyper-nationalism alone would not win elections!

The BJP and the Shiv Sena alliance has retained power in Maharashtra and the saffron party has emerged as the single largest party in Haryana but has fallen short of the lofty claims.

The plank of national security had done the trick for the BJP in this year’s Lok Sabha polls in the backdrop of the Pulwama terror attack and the Balakot airstrikes than addressing the concerns of different sections avoiding any serious discussion on the economy and livelihood issues.

The results show that issues like Kashmir and national security would be more effective in national elections. Euphoric over its landslide win in 2019 General Election, the BJP had perhaps written off the opposition and was expecting a walkover.

However, the opposition-exceeded expectation in both States while the ruling party’s tally has dropped. It is a wake-up call for the BJP that had become complacent thinking that there was a co-relation between General Election and Assembly election. In Haryana, the BJP has to cobble together a majority.

Three leaders to watch are Sharad Pawar, the NCP patriarch in Maharashtra and Bhupinder Singh Hooda of Congress and Jannayak Janata Party’s young leader, Dushyant Chautala in Haryana.

The BJP needs the support of at least six MLAs for a simple majority. The results from two states that are poles apart on many parameters show that people are yearning for an  alternative and that is why after earlier electrical  dribbles, the lifeless opposition has still got a lifeline.

Thanks to a fightback from the NCP, the Congress-NCP alliance has won 98 seats in Maharashtra and in Haryana, the Congress, has surprised everyone, winning 31 seats, more than double of the 15 it did in 2014.

There are messages galore in the results and the biggest message is that Indian democracy is again coming alive and that there is still political space for the opposition.

The so-called exit polls, analysts and psephologists have gone wrong making it clear that  voters don’t give their minds to anyone and smarter than politicians. The trio-Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, and the BJP could be invincible at the national level but at the State’s level, local issues and local leaders matter.

However, after two State Assembly elections, it would not be wise to find fault with the Modi doctrine and praise the winner.

Most Haryana ministers have lost, again proving that hyper-nationalism is no counter to the lack of governance.

The Congress could have  faired even better had it not been the leadership of Rahul  Gandhi who has failed to usher in an alternative politics imbibing new ideas acceptable to masses.