Rules of Congress Mukht Bharat: BJP and Congress are no longer in the same league, far from it

PM Modi and HM Amit Shah, image via Twitter

For those who might not remember, here are the results of the 2009 State Assembly Elections in Haryana.

Congress: 40 seats

INLD: 31 seats

No typo there. In a funny coincidence, the numbers are exactly the same as what came out yesterday.

BJP: 40 seats

Congress: 31 seats

Add to that the fact that in 2009, the Congress tally actually crashed from 67 seats (and 43% vote share) in 2005 to 40 seats (and 35% vote share). In contrast, the BJP which was nowhere in Haryana just five years ago is down 7 seats and has actually increased its vote share by 3% compared to the last Assembly elections.

Of course, political parties will say whatever is convenient to them at any given point of time. The same Bhoopinder Hooda who saw the Congress tally crash from 67 to 42 in 2009 had gladly claimed the mandate for himself. Now he thinks that 40:31 means that the BJP has lost its mandate to rule.

The difference, however, is in the general reaction of media, both left and right-wing, to the results of yesterday. And even in the hearts of BJP supporters.

Isn’t that unfair? BJP supporters may ask others and even themselves? Well, yes, but not as much as you might think.

Because the rules of the game have indeed changed a lot over the last ten years. BJP and Congress are no longer even in the same political league. Because we are now playing by the new rules of Congress Mukt Bharat. PM Modi promised it himself in a particularly inspiring speech from 2013. We all yearned for it. He delivered it. We have to now learn to play by the new rules of this new India. It is a great honour and a great responsibility for BJP, its leaders, its workers and all its supporters.

Yesterday, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra made a statement that was beyond pathetic.

Really happy, she says. With Haryana and Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. In Haryana, Congress lost for the second time in a row. They slipped to 4th position in Maharashtra for the first time since independence. In Uttar Pradesh, there were 11 bypolls and the Congress didn’t even manage to open its account.

Really happy, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra says. And we are all really happy for her.

This is what Congress has been reduced to. We have heard of passing candidates being graded as “First class”, “Second class” or Distinction. I’ve never heard of similar things among failing candidates. But Congress now takes failing as a given. I suppose they are coming up with “grades of failing” to feel better about themselves.

In this vein, I suppose Uttar Pradesh is a “Second Class FAIL”. They lost all 11 seats but managed to increase vote share. Maharashtra would be slightly better, a “First Class FAIL,” because here they missed 3rd position among 4 parties by only 10 seats. And Haryana would be the best, a “FAIL with Distinction,” because here the Congress “won” the post of Leader of Opposition.

Really happy, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra says.

Ultimately, it is the mindset which separates the winners from the losers. Congress is happy with their failing grades. NCP is happy because they have not been wiped out. The liberal ecosystem yesterday showered all manner of praise on Sharad Pawar for some kind of iconic photo of his addressing a rally amid heavy downpour. Their top leadership takes off for Bangkok at every opportunity. When someone actually stays back to fight the election, it seems like a huge deal of commitment.

Even one BJP ally is happy. Their strike rate is much lower than the BJP’s 70% (105 out of 152 seats contested) but they are “happy” in hopes of a better deal from the BJP.

The only people who seemed worried yesterday were the day’s biggest winners. The BJP. Concerned about lower seat tallies in Haryana and Maharashtra. They spent most of the day in closed-door meetings, discussing what went “wrong.” This might be the first time in decades that a sitting Chief Minister is coming back after five full years in power, but the BJP, right from the party President to the common supporter, has learned to take these things for granted. At one point, news channels reported that the BJP state chief in Haryana had resigned.

This when the party is sure to form its government in both states with the same Chief Minister for another five years each. Few would even remember that Khattar and Fadnavis are actually the first BJP Chief Ministers in their respective states.

It’s a symptom of a party that is alive, thriving and understands its position in history. A party that does not have to remind its supporters that they are still young.

Here’s some comic relief. Where is Rahul Gandhi? I suppose he is “really happy” too. And we are all really happy for him.

Abhishek Banerjee: Abhishek Banerjee is a columnist and author.