Professor emeritus, department of political science, University of Missouri, Columbia, Paul Wallace, is an expert on South Asia. HT reporter Surender Sharma talked to him on wide range of issues. Excerpts:
Q. What really worked in favour of BJP in these elections?
A. It was push-pull. The push was the perception that the Congress-led alliance was doing poorly. It was facing crisis — lots of cor ruption charges. The UPA had really lost kind of suppor t it had when they came to power. The pull was — in contrast with Manmohan Singh and even Rahul Gandhi, Narendra Modi was able to project leadership style which people appreciated. See his rallies, social network, it was all brilliant. He had a brilliant campaign. The big problem with the Congress was leadership.
Q. What future do you see for regional parties in India with BJP managing to stretch its wings in states, like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar?
A. Regional parties in east and south have been able to maintain their hold. In north, though they have suffered, but the BSP, SP and also Nitish would play a role. They are not giving up.
Q. In your opinion, what will be the future of dynastic politics in India, keeping in view the results of 2014 elections?
A. Every country has some version of dynasty bushes, like the Kennedys and the Clintons in the US. The question here is about the Congress dynasty. Rahul Gandhi did not meet the challenge. He has been working with youth groups in five-six states, like his father, to revitalize democratic structure in Congress. His performance in this election was such that he could come back. It’s inconceivable. Rahul Gandhi factor is no longer there. Yes, Priyanka, she is much like Indira Gandhi. She has that spark, charisma which Modi has. But will it interest her, we do not know. The Congress would continue, but I see less of dynastic politics in future.
Q.How do you see AAP?
A. It is positive phenomenon. It started with Anna Hazare movement and this version came in with a bright plan. They won Delhi elections. But like many movements, it exploded. They went too fast. They got popularity and recognition but they did not have organization to sustain them.
Q. Do you think Muslims voted for BJP in this elections? What Modi should do to restore confidence of minorities in BJP?
A. I have not seen details. I think it was split among different political parties and the BJP has got some small share. But throughout his campaign, Modi did not take communal stand but BJP did not completely ignore it and members of VHP and Sangh Parivar played that anti-Muslim expression.
The critical question for BJP and for India as a whole would be how Modi is able to win their confidence. Vajpayee could do this.
Modi can take notes from the Vajpayee model.