• Follow Us




We had anticipated electile dysfunction due to the extraordinary nature of Covid28 Bypolls. However, even in our wildest dreams did we did not expect diametrically opposite results against our predictions. Our final take on the day before counting was 19 seats for Congress and 9for BJP- the actual results were its opposite ( BJP-19-Congress -9).This is the first time since 1998 that we were off the mark-that to such an extent. It could be said that we had the services of a leading psephologist ( GVL Narsamiha Rao ) earlier and later association with a noted political analyst ( Yogendra Yadav ) or had the largest data for India via biggest TV network ( ETV ) but 2013 onwards we been on the dot with a skeletal team. So ,what explains it ? Our Formula works only if there the primary data is at least 50% correct. This time out ,it turned out to be more than 50% wrong. Firstly , due to lockdown the information flow was hampered ; besides – both the voters as well as parties lied – since people couldn’t go out – it was easier to create a false narrative on TV. The interpretation is that the dirty tricks department outpaced front office of parties. Some of it was clear from the outset – candidates joining the opposite party and contesting elections immediately, obscene amount of money transactions ; shameless misuse of Public money and machinery etc ; towards the end of campaign shit hit the fan. Name calling , threats, explicit lures, flouting Covid guidelines – all became par for the course. The only consolation is that we’d predicted a sweep either way – unlike all other media outlets who had projected a close encounter. We’d also predicted that if BJP won between 19-21 seats-: Depending upon which candidates of a particular camp win , the other would be cut to size viz. If all 9 of BJP / RSS camp win both leaders would be downsized ( Shivraj’s say in Corporation / Board appointments may be reduced)…Kamal- Diggy could be challenged ;That’s exactly what happened. Furthermore ,we’d said generational impact in Gwalior –Chambal ; which is what transpired in Govind Singh being challenged.

As anticipated by us the Big four – Kamal , Shivraj , Diggy , Scindia – retained, regained , restored and reclaimed respectively albeit not to the desired extent. Apart from big four the second rung leaders too mirrored them –VD Sharma , Narottam Mishra ,Ajay Singh , Arun Yadav.
The parties contested these elections with their heart out- never yielding an inch Nagpur may be the university, Gujarat the lab but the market and model farm of Hindutva is MP. With the strongest organisation and biggest galaxy of Leaders ( No other BJP state boasts of so many stalwarts ) were they beaten , the aura of invincibility in the short run may have lost sheen. Congress couldn’t fight much better that this . It was a contest between the Congress leaders and BJP Organisation-the latter won the contest marginally (18-11 would’ve been status quo).

The USP of this election was its format.A battle fought like a war than a contest initially ended up as guerilla-cum-terrorism/street brawl ; candidates engaged like enemies than opponents .Another first was that in the face of a once in a lifetime crisis every person and aspect across political spectrum tried to improvise and innovate. Usually, it is one or a few aspects where outlier behaviour is observed . Even in slumps, it touched new depths. For instance a shameless Mla- Rahul Lodhi – defected just three days before polling while BJP brazened it out claiming that they had no role.

The campaign began at a sombre note of manifestos and issues. Congress tried to keep it on the twin issue of “protecting democracy” and “traitors” ; BJP on the other hand managed to make it personality centric in the end –pitting Shivraj against Kamalnath.

Equally important , if not more was stuff “not” done – Issues not discussed ; concerns not raised.The key issue of Covid was skirted. Perhaps if Congress raised it then other party ruled states esp. Maharashtra , Punjab would be compared ; alternatively, if BJP raised it, a lot of its shortcomings would be exposed. Nor was the equally critical Migrant labour issue highlighted- Kamalnath merely paid lip service saying that M.P. has produced only migrant labour. Thus the two key concerns remained largely unaddressed due to political exigencies.

Having done the fact check , lets’ analyse ,interpret , theorise these by-elections. To begin with , its Political message is short and sour–while the aim was to upgrade the region from “ Raj Neeti” to “ Rajya Neeti” , instead it relapsed into “Raj” with no need for Neeti . There were Lifetime lessons for both Parties.BJP demonstrated how an unpalatable decision too can be implemented by an autocratic organization-shows that its workers are bonded by power and money ,not ideology; Congress learnt the harder way that it can neither match the Hindutva model nor the autocratic personality based campaign without an organization. Welcome to the Bimaru Polity.

Its meaning for the state is a relatively stable government – while in a normal course an opposition under three figures would guarantee smooth governance, in this case it may not be so given the pulls and pressures of the recent entrants into BJP. Even if it were stable-instead of pseudo stable- there would be little chance of good governance given the fact that key concerns of agenda (Covid , migrant labour) were papered over at hustings. At best Suprashasan not sushasan. A question which holds the key is-When do diametric opposites come together ? In a positive sense they come together in the face of a collective threat/war or to combat a crisis. By that token ,the Pandemic moment should not have been chose for toppling – instead, both parties should’ve joined hands to overcome it. The other case when polar opponents come together is for individual fear and / or greed. Please give a big hand for political mafia .

For people – particularly of the region-the bypoll results have meant getting disenfranchised .The aim was to uplift them from voters to citizens ; instead ,they regressed from voters to Praja. Exemplified by Jyotiraditya saying to villagers- “ You do not have to vote for BJP or Congress”…You have to vote for me…Go and tell everyone that you have to vote for Maharaja Scindia .” Not only was this in poor taste but also illegal- Privy purses/titles too were abolished in 1971( Princely states got abolished between1947-49 but titles/privy purses remained).Addressing as Maharaja is taking the shady step of her aunt Yashodhara insisting on the title of ‘Shreemant” into the taboo zone. Thus Leaders become Dabang and people became statistics. It was understandable if for a national cause opposites came together ; but for a few seats- that’s cringeworthy, to say the least. If Scindia says they never hanker for power he shouldn’t have bargained for portfolios– or stayed away from office like his grandmother.

Post these bypolls, regions other than Gwalior–Chambal and Malwa with their citizens have become second grade. The message is clear – irrespective of who you vote , rich will get richer-whether individuals or regions. The ruling credo is Winning by all means ; subsequently ,the operating dictum is that Winner takes it all. To execute it , a Spoils system is informally in place for officers.

The Electoral Message is clear- electorate can be bought the with Public Money and fear..Those who never fought the British have proved the reservations of Englishmen about democracy succeeding in India .The poor and uneducated of these regions have matured only upto the level of direct democracy-Panchayats- have some distance to cover before understanding the nuances of indirect elections.

All in all, the scenario now is Political Mafia v/s political lobby- every decision is political – with no space for apolitical or independent. Not only is it 24 / 7 politicking-Politics has become more about performing than performance. As for Elections, they are now limited mostly to –Notes (currency) and votes – every executive order is electoral ; the unending electoral cycle leaves little time for matters beyond vote banks and constituencies. The moment polling dates are announced , strategists and surveyors take over- virtually make puppets out of politicians till results. In the Assembly elections a candidate ought to have at least a modicum of spontaneity. Unfortunately, that is lost under the diktats of poll mangers and strategists. Moreover, campaign changes by the hour- before the next bulletin, viral –the pace is mindblowing. It is now byte/app election- earlier it was speeches , subsequently came programmes and slogans ; now mere words – dumbing and numbing ; Earlier , it was response , now it is reaction. Consequently , there are hardly any leaders left- in true sense of the word- only people’s representatives ; hardly any politics left ,it is mostly populisms ( Hardly any Lokneeti , Jan neeti , Rajneeti or Rajyaneeti – it is mostly de facto Raj and Praja Kuneeti ) . In all of this Media is used as a tool for Manufacturing consent and social media for Midwifing dissent.

So what needs to be done? Cosmetic reforms around each elections are no longer enough. It is time to conduct polls altogether differently. To begin with , by polls ought to be conducted differently to break the pattern wherein mostly the government in power wins. The template for bypolls has to change – for instance Model code should be applied immediately and the ones resigning debarred from bypolls .Bureaucracy needs a spoils- cum neutral system – for specialized and routine work respectively.
Immediately post results, the trends flipped – both body language as well as language changed – Shivarj ( Mafia ko gaad doonga ) and Sisodiya ( Khatiya khadi kar doonga ) ; Vindictive actions against gadflies were undertaken ( Jailing Computer Baba – even his associates – and demolishing his properties ).Thank fully , better sense has prevailed and Postpone the Local Bodies elections for three months ; Our take is that they should be held only after one year of Covid in M.P. – after the Hindu New Year ( Apr 12). While the political mess may have been somewhat sorted , the intra party mess is going to get messier in the days to come. Meanwhile ,unless Vindhya and Bundelkhand gets disproportional weightage in appointments to Boards and Corporations , there could be unrest.

The once in a century opportunity to convert the Covid crisis may have been mostly lost at the altar of narrow short term electoral gains but a small window still remains .Only pre-condition being that latest by the end of Local bodies’ elections a collective vision- cum- roadmap must be communicated to citizens and internalized by politicians. If everyone joins hands – given the innovation and improvisation on political front – it can be extended to other aspects too and M.P can surely become overall No. 1. among the BIMARU states within this term ( At the moment it is ranked 2nd behind Rajasthan and ahead of UP and over twice the per capita of Bihar.). Of course , it’ll require both Sportsman’s spirit as well as artist’s soul to make it happen
To sum , Covid 28 have been the most unfair and least free elections till date -one can safely say that about all bypolls. Parallels with Trump elections illustrate that the by polls turned electioneering on its head. Whereas the biggest liar of recent history was booted out in the U.S , those peddling white lies won in India .Why? While Trump kept lying , the U.S media kept pointing it out through the four years- Indian media ,on the other hand either kept mum or became party to the official lies ; the U.S. senate impeached Trump – Indian Parliaments and Assemblies have become rubber stamps in the same period ; U.S. courts snubbed Trump many a time during his tenure- Indian courts became more like facilitators ; Federal guards declined the idea of being deployed into the states- Indian army was dragged into partisan politics and so , on….Central India too like Middle America is crying for a systemic change( Both are populist regions).

Earlier ,the worst case was of Madhya Pradesh elections was Ajab Gajab (Oddball , strange) – transgender winning in Anuppur , Sadhvi triumphing in Bada Malahra , terror accused romping home in Bhopal but Covid bypolls are the first case of people doing a headstand wholesale-at least post anti defection law. This poll will go down the annals as Ulta Pulta.( Topsy , Turvy)-a case of electile disruption.