Thursday, June 20, 2024

Lok Sabha Election 2024: Modi factor is effective…

Sunil Mali

To what extent does the outcome of an election depend on the party's activism-passivity?… It may overshadow the outcome, but one issue has the power to trump all other issues and that is the public mind. Exactly the same thing happened in the Pune elections. Disruption in campaigning, attempts by both sides to drag the party-candidate's feet, ostentatious and superficial campaigning, rapidly dwindling caste of honest workers, both the major parties have come to experience one thing but one thing remains to be buried… the decision to once again give Narendra Modi i.e. BJP a chance. People of Pune made…

Some people today liken elections to a game like twenty-twenty cricket. Sometimes, as the game progresses, the vertical of victory tilts back and forth, and whoever holds the momentum in the final stage wins. Sometimes runs start coming from the first over or fall starts and the result of the match is decided there. Only when the candidates were decided and campaigning started in the Pune elections did those in the know predict the outcome of this contest. Even the Pune newsletter of the first phase released by 'Pudhari' hinted at it, but a quality player in the match or a fighting warrior in a political battle fights till the end without laying down his weapon and creates hope of turning sides, like the quality innings by Congress candidate Ravindra Dhangekar. They created a campaign storm till the polling day, so in the final stage, the congregation of both sides started talking about “It will be wiped out…” “There is no telling who will leave…”. In fact, the public mind was set from the beginning and the outcome was the same.

This election is compared with 2014 and 2019 elections. In those elections BJP's vote margin was about 3 lakh 15 thousand and nearly 3.5 lakh respectively. In the current election, BJP's candidate Muralidhar Mohol's vote margin has come down to 122,000. Two points should be noted in this regard. One is that the unified strength of Shiv Sena is not behind BJP this time.

In Pune, there is a certain number of activist-voters who believe in Uddhav Thackeray and were against the BJP this year. Also, the Modi wave, which was strongly felt in the last two elections, was not as effective this year. Of course, even if there was no wave, the people in Pune were willing to accept Modi as the other options were not yet ripe.

The highest efforts that could be made for election victory were made by the leadership of both the BJP and Congress parties. Both the parties brought their top leaders to Pune for campaigning. BJP organized meetings of Narendra Modi and Congress Rahul Gandhi and created atmosphere by gathering crowds. Also, many national and state level leaders were fielded by both the parties in Pune campaign.

Names like Union Ministers Nirmala Sitharaman, Jaishankar, Shashi Tharoor, Sharad Pawar, Chandrasekhar Bawankule, Prithviraj Chavan, Raj Thackeray can be included in the list. But part of the reflection at the party level is that the candidates did not get a united, vigorous, sincere support from the machinery of both the parties. Since party seniors are campaigning against the party, 'If this is elected, our existence will end for the next fifteen years', the contestants were afraid that they would show off their presence and remain inactive, which was troubling the honest workers of both the parties. Both the candidates were supported by three parties each. In the last phase, the BJP got the engine of MNS, so the three became four, but these activists who were in the background remained in the background, they came to the forefront with their stomachs and lack of campaigning.

Seventy percent of Dhangekar's campaign was his personal set of workers. He was supported by only a few local leaders of the party under whose flag he had entered the fray. Congress was not visible in the fight of Congress. Dhangekar's candidature is the highest number of votes Congress has received in the seventeen elections so far, which is 4 lakh 61 thousand 690 votes. Congress's highest score in Pune so far was 4 lakh 34 thousand 915 votes by Vitthal Tupe in 1998. The question is whether the Congress would have been able to achieve a personal record of vote share had it not been for Dhangekar's unique method of personal campaigning.

Mohol had many sides of personal charm and used them sparingly. Either because of his mayoral career, Mohol's personality was not new to the two million voters. His strong points were extensive public relations with an accommodating attitude as well as community support as the Maratha community got opportunities.

Those voters had shown their anger through the voting machines for rejecting the Brahmin community in the Kasba constituency by-elections, but the Brahmin community, satisfied with the Rajya Sabha seat for Medha Kulkarni of Kothrud, also extended its strong support through the voting machines in Sadashiv-Narayan-Shanivar Peths like Kothrud. Therefore, despite being an MLA of Dhangekar Kasba Assembly Constituency, Mohol was able to win votes in that constituency as well. Due to many reasons Dhangekar was preferred by the voters of the town. The question of how to support him for the Lok Sabha again until a year has passed since he was sent to the Legislative Assembly and even though a decision has been taken for the Legislative Assembly, the predominance of voters who prefer Modi and BJP for the Lok Sabha could pull Mohol votes even from the Kasba.

Dhangekar was able to pull in a majority of votes from the Muslim-backward-dominated cantonment assembly constituency, but it remained limited to around seventeen thousand. Comparatively, Mohol got 71,000 votes from Kothrud, 31,000 from Parvati, 14,000 from Vadgaon Sheri and Kasby, while in Shivajinagar, when Congress was expected to get majority, Mohol got a narrow margin of 3800 votes. This has two meanings. One is that due to the disorganized campaigning, the Congress failed to get a substantial majority from the constituencies that gave the Congress a majority of the votes, and the second means that Vijayashree was able to win around a quarter of a lakh more votes only because Mohol succeeded in getting more and more support from all parts of Pune.

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