Nagpur: Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, followed by his Power Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule must have received ‘shocks’ today when their candidates faced defeat in the just held Gram Panchayat elections.
Dhanashri Dhomne, Congress-NCP candidate emerged victorious in Fetri, a village hardly 13 Kms from Nagpur and ‘adopted’ by the CM while Congress nominee Sunil Gangaram Dudhpachare won the post of Sarpanch in Bawankule’s adopted village Suradevi. Further rubbing salt in his injury, Congress also won all seats in the Suradevi Gram Panchayat.
Facing defeat in elections is all part of the vibrant process of Democracy; elections are the time when voters, ordinary people, get to voice their say and either endorse the rulers of the day or tell them, no, we are not happy.
It was just over 3 years ago that first the Lok Sabha and then the Vidhan Sabha polls had gone in favour of BJP in a big way. A landslide, actually. ‘Modi Psunami’ some had called it!
Normally after such overwhelming verdicts, local polls also go the way of the victors. Nothing succeeds like success, they say.
So if local elections, at the rural level that too are throwing up such anti-BJP results, specially in VVIP’s adopted villages, people are trying to send you a message. You can ignore it at your own peril.
It is time for ruling BJP to do some soul searching: why had people reposed faith in them in such large numbers, specially in Vidarbha?
Youth were assured of jobs, farmers of remunerative MSP and ‘profits’ on agriculture (finally!) and Vidarbhites in general dreamed that they were finally going to get their separate state of Vidarbha and flourish! ( Looking at Chattishgarh and Telengena success stories, people here must have thought they could do much better…)
Though subsequently farmers’ loans were ‘waived’ – with lot of conditions – the implementation is so slow, even faulty, that farmer suicides continue unabated. More tragically so during Diwali when a poverty ridden farmer realizes he has no ‘cash’ to buy his family anything!
All these promises made…but to everyone’s shock what did we actually get immediately afterwards?
Things that were not promised, or even made election issues. Ban of beef – not just on cow slaughter but the entire Cow progeny – and mammoth statues. Mostly it was rabble rousing in the name of religion ignoring financial realities. And then the shock of demonetization. I wonder if BJP leaders, specially of Vidarbha, know the extent to which rural folks suffered from its aftermath?
Poor people had looked forward to assured incomes and salaries, not sops. You can brainwash some youngsters in the name of Religion letting them believe that their Gods are threatened, but it can carry you just so far. Without food in their bellies and hope for the future, religion will not continue rallying supporters.
Yes, they are also building metros and super highways… but what will they do for us, villagers ask?
In fact when an NT team had gone to another small town Kalmeshwar, close to Fetri immediately after demonetization the mood was so angry that stones were pelted at us at the weekly vegetable whole sale market.
“Go back to your big cities! You get the Metro, and the highways, what do we get? Our vegetables were selling at good prices last week, this week, we have to throw them away!” They complained.
When they came to know we were from the press they opened up and out came tumbling all their grievances.
The horror stories we heard were unbelievable. We will not recount them here, but it was not a ‘rumour’ that over 100 lives were lost then directly as a result.
But, what in the long run could be even more damaging to any party was the loss of faith. When people begin doubting your intentions and your integrity you know how far from grace you have fallen.
One question we were asked repeatedly, and incredulously, “do you think even the ‘neta log’ did not know note bandi was going to happen? Are they also suffering from note crunch like us? What queues are they standing in?”
And then the rumour mills begin. ‘This Minister bought so much land, hundreds of acres, just few months ago…He must have known!’ (Well, we do not know about ‘netas’ but BJP has been on a land buying spree for sure!!)
People notice. They have an eye out for all your activities.
Not just Ceaser, but Ceaser’s wife must be above suspicion, they say, for obvious reasons.
And the tides when they turn, do so fast and furiously.
Have they begun turning already??