Country over Constituency

  • Bhawani Shankar Tripathy
  • India
  • May 23, 2014



‘You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time’ - Abraham Lincoln.

Election 2014 has been remarkable in so many ways, and it expresses the country’s mood in very clear terms. There are many lessons for politicians to learn. We must also note the many firsts of this Election:

1. he maximum number of candidates: 8, 251

2. he maximum voter turnout: 66.4%

3. he maximum number of parties registered: 1,563 (besides 6 National parties and 47 State parties) 

4. n absolute majority to a single party after 30 years: 282 seats (10 more than the half-way mark).

The ‘reality’, that voters in India are always swayed by factors of caste, religion and freebies, has been been proven wrong. We must recognise that voters do think before they cast their votes, even though they may have many times thought only about themselves. This time their vote was for the country.

How did Gurgaonites choose? 

There has already been enough debate in the media, by veteran journalists and political pundits, on the recent political results. But few have asked the ordinary voters about what they considered before voting? How did they make their choice? I spoke informally to a number of voters in Gurgaon – at market places, in the neighbourhood, in parks during morning walks or simply overheard conversations at various public places. Here is how I believe the middle-class urban voter chose whom to vote for:

Congress: a magnanimous blunder

According to the voters, the Congress blundered by ‘projecting’ Rahul Gandhi as a PM candidate. The voters questioned Rahul’s experience to lead a country of India’s magnitude, especially in comparison to Modi’s experience. The Congress should have known that its ‘saving grace’ for the last two terms was a person of the stature of Manmohan Singh. But with Manmohan Singh out and Pranab Mukherjee in the President’s seat, the Congress found it hard to identify any senior leader to project as a rightful PM candidate. Voters did not appreciate the Congress’ returning to its old game of playing the dynasty card. Therefore, no matter how hard Congress tried – despite voter ‘loyalties’ and despite Haryana currently being a Congress-ruled State – most voters found it extremely difficult to vote for a Congress with Rahul Gandhi as a potential PM. 

Aam Aadmi Party: Theatre of the absurd

In Arvind Kejriwal – a self-claimed competitor for the throne of the PM – the voters found many deficiencies. Not only was the (AAP) Party absolutely new, with little national presence, the voters also saw in Kejriwal a man who was over-ambitious and displayed more a ‘self-projected’ righteousness. As Delhi’s Chief Minister, Kejriwal’s antics - of holding office on the street, being fussy on his residence, complaining that the Congress and BJP were not allowing him to function, and then resigning dramatically - were nothing but the theatre of the absurd. Even some of the Party’s sympathetic voters were not supportive of Kejriwal’s personal, grandiose actions: like his decision to contest against Modi in Varanasi, just because he had won against Sheila Dikshit in Delhi. He even reportedly accused the citizens of India of being ‘traitors if they voted for BJP or Congress’. The voters chose ‘capability-to-govern’ over ‘just honesty’. As a result, Yogendra Yadav, though an extremely amiable personality, failed to make a significant dent in the Constituency - despite 49,500 voters from Gurgaon City alone voting for him. The Gurgaon Assembly Constituency has nine legislative segments. Yogendra could garner a total of 79,500 votes (6% of the total 12.3 lakhs votes cast), thus getting merely 30,000 votes from the remaining seven legislative assembly segments. AAP seems to have little standing beyond Gurgaon City (Badshahpur plus Gurgaon legislative segments).


BJP: Making the most of the Modi sentiment

Gurgaon’s voters have said that they voted mainly for Modi, and thus for the BJP. The BJP as a political party has very little visibility in this City. Rarely would you read about BJP leaders taking up any issue concerning Gurgaon citizens. For Gurgaon voters it has mostly been either a Congress MLA/MP or someone from INLD; and even an Independent, as during the last Assembly elections. For the last three terms Rao Inderjit Singh has represented Gurgaon as a Congress MP. He has now won a fourth term, but this time on a BJP ticket, having made a timely strategic move. Nearly 49% of the votes were cast in his favour. That Gurgaonites had already decided not to vote for Congress is evident the largest local constituency, Badshahpur – which has more than 3 lakhs voters. They chose even AAP over the Congress. 

INLD: Banking on an anti-Congress wave

In the past, Gurgaonites have always ‘shared’ their votes between the Congress and INLD. Many times INLD has contested elections in partnership with BJP. This time, Zakir Hussain, who was earlier with BSP, moved into INLD. INLD, along with its loyal jat voter base, also cashed in on the anti-BJP voters from the Mewat region (comprising some 4.5 lakhs votes). Barring a few thousand votes from this region going to the Congress and AAP, most voted for Zakir Hussain. INLD may have also presumed that the anti-Congress votes would benefit it (rather than the BJP). In ‘normal‘ circumstances this would have happened. However, the erstwhile Congress voters seem to have chosen BJP over INLD this time – placing, like many, the Country before the Constituency.


Bhawani Shankar Tripathy is a development professional, and the founding governing member of the NGO, ‘Mission Gurgaon Development’.


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