Gujarat’s much awaited results are out. The fraudsters sitting in the mega ‘slaughterhouses’ have been exposed and myth related to invincibility is broken and perhaps shaken the Hindutva camp from inside. These results will have huge impact on the psyche of our nation and the fraudsters will start building up their narratives now about how ‘despite’ 25 years ruling, the BJP has still won the game but the fact is that Gujarat verdict has jolted them and it need to be understood in broad perspectives. Can Congress rebuild itself from Gujarat ? What are the lessons for other parties as well as what could be the future politics of three youngsters who actually won our ‘imaginations’ but before coming to analyse those points I have to speak about the absolute degradation and pathetic attempt to thwart the mandate by those fraudsters who claim themselves to be journalists and shouldn’t the Press Council if it is there or Editors Guild and others who are worried about the falling grace particularly of media, must now not only ponder but act too.

Whatever be the outcome of the Exit Polls and Opinion Polls, I think it is time we call for a complete ban on them. You cannot support such frauds that attempt to influence people’s mandate through mischievous means in the name of prime time discussions in their slaughter houses whose only aim was to demolish opposition. This so-called media became BJP and Hindutva’s  not merely polling agents but an instrument in spreading the poisonous propaganda of the SanghParivar that sought to polarize people on communal lines and created fictional issues. Times Now, and Republic TV apart from many others don’t even deserve to be called media houses and that is why I called them slaughter houses meant to humiliate those who disagree with Hindutva and its venomous agenda. It is great that all the attempt to sow seeds of this poison did not succeed in Gujarat. In putting the people’s agenda on political parties, the media can play a big role but sadly and rather dangerously, it was not merely setting agenda but it became part of the canard that divided people and create communal discord which is nothing but a seditious act. So election commission as well as political parties will have to think on whether these media houses should be allowed to steal people’s agenda and attempt to influence their opinion. In the ballot boxe games we had booth capturing and other things at regular intervals but in the current phase, media has become worse than those goons at the street who used to loot the booth to vote for a particular candidate. Media is engaged in bigger loot and denying people their right to set the agenda.

Prime Minister NarendraModi and BJP president Amit Shah has said that this victory of Gujarat is a ‘rejection’ of caste forces and politics of appeasement’ and a victory of ‘good governance’ and ‘developmental’ agenda of the government. It would be good for the media to ask BJP as how many times they talked about good governance and Vikas during this election. Prime Minister’s desperation started whether Congress wanted to make Ahmed Patel as chief minister of Gujarat who has every right to be so if his party had won the election and he were elected leader of the legislature party. Modiji then found conspiracy at Mani Shankar Aiyer’s home involving Dr Man Mohan Singh and Pakistanis together to put Ahmed Patel as chief minister of Gujarat. What do you make with such statement? If it was spoken by anyone else, we would have laughed at the silliness of such argument but  it came from Prime Minister makes it more serious. Question is if Pakistanis are attempting to intervene in our democratic process and conspiring with other Indians then the government must act.

Attempt to create a debate around Rahul Gandhi’s Hinduness was another low which the Congress failed to respond politically and meekly placed before us that Rahul Gandhi is a janeudhari, shiv-bhakt Brahmin. Now this became worst with the idiotic response of the Congress Party. Sangh or its musketeers have no right to ask any citizen of this country about their faith as these are personal matter. As long as I am citizen of India, I have a right to participate in its polity. Congress must come out becoming the B team of the BJP. Rahul Gandhi need to inform his team to project the party as progressive, liberal and secular which India deserve today. The crooked Brahmanical minds inside Congress don’t want it to become a party of all and hence they play all those games which they have been playing for years. These tricks have damaged Congress more than anything else. Congress and Rahul Gandhi must not engage in the Mandir Masjid debate and focus on good governance and India’s pluralistic cultural heritage. It is time, we talk about citizenship, making party more inclusive by involving and assigning the Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims and others fair role in party’s structure as well as in ticket distribution.

It is sad that even Ram Temple became an issue for the Bhartiya Janata Party in Gujarat. Actually the strategy of Shah – Modi duo was to raise deliberately all the issues which tend to polarize voters, avoid developmental and good governance debate and the lapdogs jumped on all the feeds. Every day, prime time crooks shouting shamelessly on these issues with equally provocative hashtags to build a narrative that SanghParivar is doing through their whatsapp university. So the role of these Slaughter Houses was nothing but to carefully craft a narrative around Narendra Modi and his invincibility while attacking Gandhi family through their choicest contempt. One is not here to defend the family but as political leaders they deserve same respect as anyone else and they have a right to defend themselves.

People of Gujarat actually have rejected the Modi Model so the narrative that they are weaving about 19 states under BJP must be rejected. Parties come to power and go. BJP had 2 seats too in Parliament. It got defeated too and in democracy it is fair. The narrative around Gujarat was about its invincibility and Hindutva’s laboratory of nationalism that was only helping the savarna Hindus and denying the Dalits , OBCs and adivasis their space in power structure and for that it weaved a hate Muslim agenda as that is the only work they could do. Gujarat became victim of this hate politics and development went somewhere else. The Patidar resentment was not merely because of jobs but also the aspirations of the community which dominated the political landscape of Gujarat once upon a time. Under Modi’s leadership Patidar were sidelined politically and hence the entire battle and resentment of Patidars was not merely jobs for the youths but aspiring leadership of the community.

Many stories are coming that Congress could have won more if BSP had not fielded its candidate in many seats. Similar things are said about Himachal Pradesh too. It is important for all of us to understand that in politics the bigger party has to take a call. I have been speaking for years that Congress and BSP should work together because despite her limited party base, Mayawati still has a Pan Indian appeal among the Dalits and BSP cadres could be found in each state. It was for the Congress to speak to all the parties and should have avoided this division.

With the win of Jignesh Mewani, many of friends feel as if BSP has become irrelevant. While we welcome the victory of Jignesh Mewani and hope he will concentrate on Gujarat and perhaps strengthen social movement and alliances there. We will have to take a decision whether he would remain independent candidate or join Congress. I suppose the second alternative is suitable for him and from that way he can strengthen the independent Dalit voices inside the Congress Party. It would not be advisable for him to develop a new party as some people are looking at him as a new icon of Dalit movement in India. Gujarat’s realities are far different than rest of the country and things are not that simple as our Facebook friends might think. Our advice to Jignesh would be to concentrate building bridges of Dalit-OBC-Muslims in Gujarat as a permanent base so that you have a government in 2023.He and all others have a bigger role for 2019 too to completely bury the hate propagandists in that election.

In a diverse country like ours, we must not shy away from having more political parties. BSP is a brand and it has come out of Ambedkarite thoughts with a noble mission. Ms Mayawati has here severe limitations too. She failed to bring the youngsters like Chandra Shekar Azad, Jignesh Mewani and other forces at the party or any social platform. It is time for her to nurture young leadership in the party. We don’t want BSP to be irrelevant as every party has a big role to play and it has a big mass base at least in Uttar Pradesh but the party must learn to work with other opposition parties. It can’t work on creating opportunistic alliances. If this Gujarat narrative goes in Uttar Pradesh, it would be difficult for BSP to get the Muslim and other OBC votes in the states but then it is also a reality that every state has a distinct nature and has to be dealt in that way but even then SP-BSP-Congress alliance in Uttar Pradesh and RJD-Congress alliance in Bihar, TMC-Congress in Bengal, DMK-Congress in Tamilnadu will work wonders. That apart Congress can also weave same alliances with leaders of social movements as it happened in Gujarat in the states where it has a direct fight with BJP or other regional parties such as Madhya Pradesh, Maharastra, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chhattishgarh, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Congress must focus on other states too including North East.

The Gujarat results have rejuvenated the Congress Party which is passing through its toughest period as well as the opposition and if anyone is the winner in these elections, it is Rahul Gandhi. He won the heart of the people through his simplicity and hearty talks. His oratory is getting better day and the most important part is his modesty in admitting his mistakes and graciously accepting the defeat in Gujarat. We know, he is the one, who has become part of daily humiliation by the Sangh and its gappus daily including those sitting in their slaughter houses who would bring out things to target him individually. In independent India’s history, we have very few such examples where one individual was so much targeted and in the obscene way as Rahul has been and these elections have proved that his versions and narratives will be the biggest strength the Congress Party. Rahul Gandhi must build Congress Party from the ground develop a team of not only social media experts but also engage with social movements, opposition leaders, students groups, community leaders, opinion makers, intellectuals to build a strong case to defeat the hatemongering agenda of the SanghParivar. It is time that Congress Party must have these segments but at the same point of time, Congress Party must accept the changing nature of India and respect its diversity in terms of assertions of identities and political parties.

Congress should not think India in terms of a two party politics but must encourage secular political parties to acquire space. I have always respected former prime minister V P Singh’s often repeated statement that if we need to protect secularism and social justice in India or idea of liberal inclusive India then both the ruling as well as opposition space must be acquired by the secular parties. How is it possible to do that ? Will Congress start building up new narratives? Will it admit that it did nothing to remove those things which are still roaming in the web world about JawaharLal Nehru ? It did not act against those goons who spread such nasty photoshopped videos insulting political leaders of our independent movement particularly JawaharLal Nehru. So, it is important to spread your narrative. Sanghis are expert in spreading this as they had the monopoly but they have been defeated now.

It is time we build India brick by brick, defend its secular liberal space, not impose one identity on others but how will it happen? Can we make the Sangh irrelevant? If yes then how? Certainly not trying to be more conservative than them but what Rahul said that we will defend our values and will not be like them who spread hatred. Now Congress has to develop that narrative in action that they are different than the BJP and Hindutva forces in all aspects including their economic model and talk about breaking social barriers and creating a level playing field for all.

As far as the EVM’s are concerned, we have our reservation about it. These elections also, for the first time in last 20 years, showed how an autonomous institution like Election Commission has been compromised. Its credibility has been shaken and we need to work to restore it back. What is the use of EVM’s VVPT if they are not counted. It should be made mandatory to get them counted in several constituencies in each state during the LokSabha Polls to restore the credibility of the Commission otherwise conspiracy theory will continue which will be more dangerous for the health of democracy in our country.

It is clear that 2019 narratives of Sangh Parivar and its Gappus will not be on development and good governance but purely on Hindu Muslim binary. Congress and all other secular parties have to defend with great convictions the idea of India. There is no need for us to defend the wrongs of communities. Defend the rights of a citizen to be Indians and claim entitlement as an Indian citizen irrespective of his or her caste and religion. Focus on Good Governance and seek answer from Narendra Modi and his team on their track record of ‘Development’ and Good Governance’ and as Rahul did in Gujarat, he must focus on these issues and make his team of spokespersons more informed and progressive.

Regressive ideas of Sangh Parivar can’t be accepted by people in longer term hence Congress and all other political parties must focus on progressive attitude and those syncretic values of India where people lived together despite all their differences; above all, we must adhere to our faith in the original constitution of India, to resolve all our disputes. We must tell the people that the best way to solve our disputes is not at the slaughter houses or in the street but through the courts and negotiations. Rahul Gandhi showed exemplary leadership qualities through well organized campaign and involving the youth which is a good sign for the future of the country and we hope that battle 2019 now is wide open and the opportunity must not be lost at all.

Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social and human rights activist. He blogs at twitter @freetohumanity Email:

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