One year of demonetisation: Winners and losers in the politics of note ban

Before demonetisation and soon after the most controversial economic decision in Independent India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the unparalleled leader on the Indian political scene.


But by the time of its first anniversary on November eight this week, Rahul Gandhi has started emerging as the challenger with the virtually down and out Congress in a ‘take off’ mode and the fear and awe of Modi has drastically come down for the opposition.


This, in a nutshell, is the political fallout of demonetisation notwithstanding the claims of the BJP that it has been a masterstroke by their leader against the menace of black money and corruption.


Strange but true. The political fallout of the drastic decision has been immense for the Modi dispensation which was "mighty" before the November 8 decision by the Prime Minister which had sent shockwaves across the country.


 Apart from the crisis being faced by the economy at present, the effect of demonetisation is becoming adverse politically.


It would not be wrong to proclaim that demonetisation has become some sort of a disruptor in the political sphere notwithstanding the fact that initially the BJP may have gained by making mincemeat of its rivals in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand thereby momentarily promoting the value of "Brand Modi", putting the ruling party on cloud nine amid assertions of TIMO (There is Modi Only) in 2019 Lok Sabha polls.


But sometimes initial assessments go wrong and this appears to be the case if one looks at the developments in hindsight. One should not grudge the credit to the Prime Minister as also the organisational skills of the BJP President Amit Shah for the massive victory in Lucknow and Dehradun. They deserved it. The Prime Minister played the pied piper telling the poor and the weak how he has tamed the rich and the powerful by a single stroke and how he was like "Robin Hood". On his part, Shah had already ensured more than adequate groundwork in Uttar Pradesh to keep the land politically fertile for the saffron.


But the fact of the matter is that Modi's long-term political calculation behind demonetisation has not only gone wrong but has gradually been boom ranging on the BJP. How else could one interpret the growing profile of the Congress Vice President who until the other day was just a "Pappu" for the trolls of the BJP.


Like in love and war, in politics, all is fair.So, it should also be understood that ‘Project demonetisation’ was also aimed at ‘Project decimation’ of Congress. The Prime Minister had publicly declared to make Congress mukt Bharat which his detractors saw as one of the most undemocratic statements.


For instance, In states like Maharashtra, managers of the ruling BJP were virtually in touch with each and every opposition MLA. The objective was two-fold to marginalise Shiv Sena on the one hand and to break the back of the Congress. But all this did not gain much due to the changing situation following troubles in the economy.


Maharashtra is just one instance. But it is a fact that the BJP was out with 'shopping lists" in other states too. The objective of Amit Shah was to grow the footprint of the BJP organically and inorganically through 'acquisitions and mergers".


The Project of the decimation of the opposition has virtually collapsed in the last six months as leaders from the Congress and other parties which have almost made up their minds to join the BJP in search of greener pastures have suddenly stopped in their tracks as they see the atmosphere has suddenly started changing.


There could be a Narayan Rane in Maharashtra and a Mukul Roy in West Bengal, who are feeling the attraction of BJP, but this is not a general phenomenon. Rane and Roy are past their best and have compulsions of their own. The latest example of the one joining BJP is the controversial Sukh Ram and his family in poll- bound Himachal Pradesh.


In Gujarat, the home turf of Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah worrying signals are appearing for the ruling party as the battle for Gandhinagar is hotting up by the day. Thanks to demonetisation and GST.


It is not to say that Congress will win Gujarat but the fact is that Rahul Gandhi is giving Modi the run for his money in his own backyard.


Interestingly, what appears to have happened in Gujarat is that the 22 year anti-incumbency of BJP has erupted suddenly due to demonetisation coupled with GST forcing Modi and Shah to carry out a major fire fighing operation on a war footing.


The anniversary celebrations by the ruling party and the protests by the opposition on that day would not show who lost and who benefited politically by demonetisation, but Dec 18 when the results of Gujarat would be out.


Disclaimer: Views expressed are personal. They do not reflect the view/s of Business Standard.

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