The Indian voter is getting increasingly demanding.

If it is not a total collapse, it is certainly a wake-up call.

The results of the bye-elections held in four states, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Punjab, have come as an embarrassing development for the Narendra Modi led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.

It is an unacceptable 8-18, unacceptable from the point of view of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) strategists who are busy writing off the Congress party and who are still basking in the glory of the overwhelming victory they scored in the Lok Sabha polls in May 2014.

Of the 18 seats, Congress and its allies won 10 while BJP won seven and its Punjab ally SAD one. BJP had performed exceedingly well in many of these assembly segments in the recently concluded General Elections. And BJP had performed exceedingly well in Bihar, bagging 31 of the 40 Lok Sabha seats, with its allies. That was indeed a clear Narendra Modi effect.

Thus, in Bihar, the bypolls were being seen as the referendum on Narendra Modi’s governance and on Nitish Kumar’s governance, his political legacy in Bihar and his political alliance with Lalu Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).

The BJP may rush to dismiss the results but given the way Modi led the BJP and the NDA in sweeping the nation on the electoral turf with a non-Congress party first time getting so many seats on its own, but any subsequent loss of his party will be seen in the context of his ‘performance on delivery of his promises of bringing the better days’ with questions raised on his governance.

The results declared today have come on a day when Narendra Modi’s government is completing its three months in office with its inaugural on May 26 and these three months have enough of his government’s fumbling blocks to talk about, something that the voter would never have expected to happen when voting for him.

The BJP may rush to dismiss the results as reaction on Modi’s government and may use the line of national Vs local issues, but doing so would be electorally harmful.

The warning signals for the Modi government have started surfacing and the government needs to assess them and work them out because these results also tell the voter is getting increasingly demanding.

If we go by the trends in the assembly segments, we can tell the voter is learning to react swiftly on the ‘delivery of the electoral promises’ and Modi has made many, with many of them sky-high that need time. The voter may go with that but when it is not with the fumbling blocks like targeting honest officials (likes of Sanjeev Chaturvedi) and indulging in vendetta politics (sacking and transferring Governors) coupled with seasonal price rise to the sky-high levels. Such fumbling blocks look even more unpardonable when there is not much to talk about on nagging domestic issues. And that is the case with the Narendra Modi government while writing this.

If the bye-election results are not a total collapse, the timing of it is certainly a wake-up call.

September 13 is going to see another round of bye-elections, with three Lok Sabha seats (Medak in Andhra Pradesh, Mainpuri in Uttar Pradesh and Vadodara in Gujarat) and 33 assembly seats spread across nine states (Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal). And the year-end is scheduled for four state assembly elections – Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir and Haryana.

So, the timing is bad if the BJP strategists have political plans to enjoy a run of complacency on ‘performing’.

The bye-election results today have generated much negative points for Narendra Modi and the NDA government. This round has gone to Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav’s jibes have got the extended lease of his political life.

Any similar outcome in the September 13 polls would seriously amplify the effect of these negative points, and that would greatly undermine the BJP’s chances in the three assembly polls (except J&K, even if the BJP is talking of majority on its own there), that going by the results of the Lok Sabha elections, should be won by the BJP easily. Happening so would create a ripple effect that would be potent enough to affect and derail the plans for the whole five years because more assembly polls are scheduled ahead.

That should never have been the problem, except, that the Modi government has some pretty unacceptable fumbling blocks with not much to talk about on governance parameters when the Indian voter is getting increasingly demanding and is reacting swiftly and decisively.

An increasingly demanding electorate – yes, it is good for the Indian Democracy – and it is also good for Narendra Modi – because, in spite of the all the fumbling blocks, he is still the person (in fact the only person in Indian politics at the moment) who can deliver for India, for the voters who voted him in for better days ahead. Narendra Modi is a politician who is believed to have more focus on his political legacy and how the generations would remember him and his background of no personal attachments helps us in believing so.

It will be good (and the nation needs it) for Modi if he reads the signs and works to control the elements in his government from doing things that are creating the fumbling blocks. He needs to be conscious that the voter has become totally frustrated with the worn-out style of politics being practiced so far.

Narendra Modi must read these messages from the bye-election results today. The scale of his political legacy would depend on how he reads these signs and how he acts subsequently.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –

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