Amit Shah will either be the de facto president of the BJP or actually become its president formally. Having found such superlative success in Uttar Pradesh, he is now being seen as the best man to consolidate gains in new territories. The attention currently may be on the Modi regime in Delhi, but what this election has done is to open up intriguing and real possibilities for the BJP in states where it was not considered in with a chance.
Most significantly, eastern India is where it has really broken new ground. The party has done spectacularly well in Bihar, but it was in any case part of the ruling establishment there till about a year ago in alliance with the JD(U). For future battles linked to the assembly, it will project former deputy chief minister Sushil Modi as CM.
Also impressive have been the gains in Assam where the BJP won seven seats and 37 per cent of the vote. With the agp vote collapsing and the Congress declining, it is clear that the BJP has a future in the state elections. It will become the magnet for the anti-immigrant vote of the Hindu Assamese and Bengalis. Conditions in the state are ripe for the BJP to grow further.
Equally, Uttar Pradesh too must be seen as new terrain as the BJP has been out of power here for 17 years and its voteshare went up to 42 per cent from 15 per cent in the 2012 assembly elections that was won handsomely by the Samajwadi Party. With 71 of the state’s 80 seats in its kitty, the BJP must consider itself a serious contender for capturing the assembly in 2017. Narendra Modi has significantly retained the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat and given up Vadodara. There is no state-level leader here who can today be seen as a potential CM candidate. But there’s always Modi the PM and Shah the man For All Important Tasks.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
It would be a bad idea to make Shah BJP president. For the next three years, his whole focus must be on UP, Bihar and WB. BJP owes it to the nation to provide a serious alternative in these states. These states have been a major drag for a long time and it is time this is stopped.
And I hope Bengalis take a serious look at the BJP as well. The state has been a garbage can for a long time. It is time things are changed.
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