News Analysis: Modi-wave beats caste, dynastic politics in India

Source: Xinhua| 2019-05-25 20:04:11|Editor: Shi Yinglun
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by Pankaj Yadav

NEW DELHI, May 25 (Xinhua) -- For more than seven decades, ever since the independence from the British rule, both the Indian society and the Indian politics have been largely divided on caste-lines and dominated by political-dynasties across the length and breadth of the country.

However, the results of the just-concluded 17th general elections showed that the Narendra Modi brand of politics during the past five years has largely demolished the caste and dynastic politics in the country, thereby making its firm believers and practitioners redundant.

A large number of politicians and political parties having strong beliefs in caste-and-dynastic politics were almost routed by the new brand of politics in these elections in the country where politics now seems to be largely defined by sentiments of nationalism, patriotism and national security.

Conventionally, Indian politics relied on permutations and combinations based on castes and communities. Staunch believers in this kind of politics tried the same in 2019 general elections, but failed miserably.

For example, in Uttar Pradesh, the biggest state in terms of parliamentary constituencies (80 out of total 543), three castes-based parties, the Samajwadi Party (SP), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) joined hands and forged a "Grand Alliance" to take on the main ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2019 general elections.

The "Grand Alliance" was formed under the (mis)belief that certain castes and communities would certainly vote for them. The coming together of these parties was a bit surprise for everyone as the SP and the BSP have been the bete noire to each other, and so have been the SP and the RLD, in the past. But, their political compulsions and fear of losing against the BJP brought them together.

The "Grand Alliance", which aimed to win more than 50 constituencies in Uttar Pradesh alone, found itself decimated on Friday when the election results were announced, as it could win only 15 constituencies, while the BJP won as many as 63 constituencies.

Similarly, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), another caste-based party in eastern state of Bihar, was routed, drawing a zero in the elections. The RJD believed that those belonging to the "Yadav" caste and the Muslim community were its traditional vote-bank, but it would not be so in this year's general elections. The RJD has been a major ruling party in Bihar which has 40 parliamentary constituencies, out of which 39 were won by the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in this election.

Prominent dynasts belonging to major political parties, including the main opposition Indian National Congress (INC), miserably lost their elections. Leading the list was none other than INC president Rahul Gandhi, who lost his own election from the Amethi constituency in northern state Uttar Pradesh, though he won from the other constituency he contested in the southern state of Kerala. Amethi was considered as Gandhi's family bastion for almost five decades.

Popular leaders belonging to as many as eight families in different states, often described as political dynasties, too faced bitter defeats. Besides, as many as nine former chief ministers belonging to the INC too lost their elections in different states.

In an editorial published in an English daily on Saturday, noted political columnist Pawan Verma wrote that the "Modi tsunami" had overwhelmed dynastic politics.

"It has been accepted for too long that progenies of high profile politicians have an ordained right to succeed their parent. Until now there was no challenge to this distortion. However, the second coming of Narendra Modi has made many dynasts appear irrelevant," he stated.