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The sudden SAD-BJP breakup is much more than just the farm bills

Aditya Chauhan

Narendra Modi won Indian General Elections in 2014 because of two major reasons: soft-Hindutva element in his politics and people’s perception of him as some sort of “development man” based on the Gujarat model.

Talking about the former, Sikhs couldn’t care less as neither soft-hindutva didn’t “empower” them and nor it antagonized them like Muslims. The only thing soft-hindutva did to Sikhs was ignore them which overall, is not a very pleasant thing as no community in any nation would like to be left out. With the passage of time, unfortunately for BJP, Narendra Modi’s image of “development man” waned as he failed to bring any radical change in the nation.

In 2009 general elections when Modi’s influence was limited to Gujarat, in a general sense, Bharatiya Janata Party (1) and Shiromani Akali Dal (4) bagged 5 out of 13 seats collectively in Punjab. The rest of the seats went to Congress. In 2014 general elections, BJP and SAD’s alliance got around half of the seats with the former getting 2 and the latter winning on 4 seats.

But, this time the rest of the seats were not occupied by Congress but rather by an infant Aam Aadmi Party. Congress won 3 seats, one less than AAP. This could be explained by the fact that in 2014, Modi wave was at its peak.

BJP’s formula of combination of soft Hindutva with development worked. However, it didn’t work in Punjab where the party is still facing hurdled even to stand on its own feet. 

In 2019 general elections, both SAD and BJP got 2 seats each with Congress acquiring 8 seats leaving a single seat for AAP. BJP and SAD got less seats than Congress because of the fact that the people of Punjab felt that the BJP focused more in its Hindutva element and less on the development part which irked Sikhs in Punjab.

According to 2011 census, Hindus constitute about 38.49% of the total population in Punjab and Sikhs 57.69%. Historically, BJP catered to the Hindu mass and SAD Sikh’s population. So, it worked well for their alliance. Generally, BJP would contest on Hindu majority seats like Gurdaspur and Jalandar while SAD would contest on Sikh majority states like Ludhiana and Patiala. This would serve both well.

However, this all started to collapse with the BJP’s growing affection of Hindutva and ignorance of development. Agriculture bills were not the reason but rather the tipping point of the farmer’s aggression which resulted in massive protests. Even though the protest is largely run on the misinformation like removal of APMCs and MSP still the protest got huge success because the Sikhs just needed a reason to come out and revolt. SAD-BJP alliance which mutually benefitted both in the past resulted in the SAD losing its already shrinking support base. Consequently, SAD officially parted its ways from BJP using agriculture bills as an excuse.

For BJP, Hindutva formula works pretty well in the central states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh but it has to ally with a regional party in the corner states of the nation like AIDMK in Tamil Nadu and NPP in Meghalaya to form a majority. However, sometimes the Hindutva spoils the relationship of BJP with its alliances like SAD in Punjab and PDP in Jammu and Kashmir. Overall, it will be interesting to see if BJP manages to maintain the status quo or will it gets into trouble with more of its alliances.

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