ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Long Haul

EVEN though these events took place almost a year back, the demolition of the Babri masjid, the communal violence which followed and the dismissal of the four BJP run state governments invested last month's state assembly elections with a special portentousness. This was acknowledged by all the political parties. Till quite recently the BJP was insisting that the elections must be regarded as nothing less than a referendum on the centre's dismissal of the BJP governments. In the course of campaigning for the Congress, prime minister Narasimha Rao characterised the elections as "the most crucial for the country" as they would "decide what kind of politics the people want". The Left parties and the Janata Dal had proclaimed that defeating the BJP in these elections was a matter of life and death for the country's secular polity. Against this background it is understandable that the outcome of the election is being seen in a rather more dramatic light than perhaps it should be. While it is undoubtedly very significant that the BJP has been able to win back only one of the four states it had earlier ruled, the decisiveness of the BJP's defeat and its opponents' victories has tended to be exaggerated in most reactions to the election results. The BJP's own cockiness in the run-up to the elections, captured in its campaign slogan aaj panch pradesh kal sara desh, has contributed not a little to this.

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