By Narasimhan Vijayaraghavan
No matter what the BJP and its local and national leaders may offer as explanation or excuse, truth is that they were soundly sent out packing for their failure to govern well, allegations of corruption with more than a modicum of truth, and open dissensions in the party seemingly known for its discipline. This time it was disarray due to personal ambitions born of open expressions of competitive power-grab.
Any claim that it was ‘anti-incumbency’ that did them in would be real. But not as if an alien and distant factor not related to the record of governance. Anti-incumbency is a factor in Indian elections that has been growing in importance in recent years. It refers to the tendency of voters to vote out incumbents, or sitting politicians, at the polls. This can be due to a number of factors, including dissatisfaction with the incumbent’s performance, a desire for change, or a belief that the incumbent is corrupt or out of touch with the needs of the people.
There are a number of theories about the origins of anti-incumbency in India. One theory is that it is a result of the country’s long history of dynastic politics, in which power is often passed down from one family member to another. This can lead to a sense of entitlement among incumbents, who may believe that they are owed a vote, simply because of their family name.
Another theory is that anti-incumbency is a result of the country’s large and diverse population. This can make it difficult for incumbents to keep track of the needs of all their constituents, and can lead to a sense of alienation among voters.Whatever the cause, anti-incumbency is a significant factor in Indian elections. It has led to the defeat of many incumbents in recent years, and is likely to continue to be a major factor in future elections.
Psephologists have enumerated some of the reasons for the rise of anti-incumbency in India: Dissatisfaction with the incumbent’s performance: Voters may be dissatisfied with the incumbent’s performance on a number of issues, such as the economy, corruption, or law and order.Voters may simply be looking for a change after a long period of time with the same incumbent.Voters may believe that the incumbent is corrupt or out of touch with the needs of the people.
Anti-incumbency can have a number of consequences for Indian politics. It can lead to a more competitive political environment, as voters are more likely to vote for new candidates. It can also lead to a more responsive government, as incumbents are more likely to be responsive to the needs of the people in order to avoid being voted out of office.
However, anti-incumbency can also have some negative consequences. It can lead to a less stable government, as new governments are often formed after each election. It may have also led to a negative and cynical political environment, where voters believe that all politicians are corrupt or out of touch. The view is out there already? Anti-incumbency is a complex phenomenon with both positive and negative consequences for Indian politics.
The role played by anti-incumbency factor in Karnataka elections in May 2023 was significant. The incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government led by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai was facing a strong challenge from the Congress party. The Congress party was able to capitalize on the anti-incumbency sentiment among voters and won the elections.
There were a number of factors that contributed to the BJP’s defeat. One factor was the perception that the BJP government had not done enough to address the needs of the people. The BJP government was also criticized for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Another factor that contributed to the BJP’s defeat was the Congress party’s strong campaign. Too much reliance on Modi factor had diminishing utilitarian returns. The Congress party also benefited from the support of some regional parties.
The anti-incumbency factor was a major factor in the Congress party’s victory. Voters were looking for a change after six years of BJP rule. The Congress party was able to capitalize on this sentiment and win the elections.Modi’s road shows helped salvage BJP’s pride.That is all.
The BJP’s defeat in Karnataka is a sign that the anti-incumbency factor is still a powerful force in Indian politics. The BJP will need to address the concerns of voters if it wants to win future elections.
Here are some of the reasons why the anti-incumbency factor played a role in the BJP’s defeat in Karnataka:
Voters were clearly and visibly dissatisfied with the BJP government’s performance on a number of issues, such as the economy, corruption, and law and order. Voters were simply looking for a change after years’ of BJP rule. The same side goals from Congress, pandering to minority interests, helped consolidate the votes as a block, and not harm them.
Voters believed that the BJP government was corrupt or out of touch with the needs of the people. Feelings matter. Perfection morphs into real. The BJP’s defeat in Karnataka is a reminder that the anti-incumbency factor is a powerful force in Indian politics. The BJP will need to address the concerns of voters if it wants to win future elections.
It was allied with Hubris. An element of Mis-calibration arising from over-confidence that Modi factor may take them home or permit room for a Maharashtra experiment. Voters were smarter. They have returned a firm majority giving BJP no room to perform any Operation Lotus. Hope, they are not daring nay dirty enough to engage and indulge despite. Humility is called for. And would be welcome. The recent verdict in Subhash Desai v. Principal Secretary on 11th May,2023 in relation to the imbroglio in Maharashtra may just hold them back.
As for anti-incumbency, let BJP not delude itself as if it was an inevitable or inexorable factor with no nexus to their performance. Sorry, anti-incumbency was a sharp slap, in the wide world of public view, on their face!
( Writer is a practicing advocate in the Madras High Court)