New Delhi: The assembly election results have dealt a stinging blow to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) while serving as a major morale booster for the Congress.
The three Hindi heartland states Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh are seen slipping out of BJP hands while Congress is happily filling up the space with its strong performance in three states.
Madhya Pradesh is down to the wire and heading for a photo-finish, with Shivraj Chouhan government engaged in close contest with Congress but Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh have given a clear mandate to the grand old party.
The only solace for the BJP is in North East, where Congress lost its only state. With this, BJP’s slogan of Congress-mukt North East got realised, with MNF ousting the Congress government after 10 years.
Telangana was another battleground where national parties couldn’t influence voters and regional satraps like KCR Rao-led TRS swept the state, swallowing the Congress and also TDP.
Time for BJP to introspect
According to old clichés, assembly elections are more about local issues and don’t reflect national issues. But, the scale of Congress resurgence in these BJP strongholds is nothing less than a wake-up call for PM Modi but also a strong reminder of the common people under distress.
The big challenge that is staring BJP in the face is that its electoral strategy haven’t worked to its advantage. Be it Ram Mandir or pushing Hindutva agenda, the party’s poll pitch didn’t work in these elections.
Narendra Modi, known for swinging party’s fortunes in last leg of campaigning, could not save the state for Vasundhara Raje. Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath also campaigned aggressively but failed to turn the tide in party’s favour.
However, Rahul Gandhi’s aggressive attack on Modi government, transformation as ‘Shiv Bhakt’ seems to have worked for Congress, though analysts are divided over the real reason behind BJP drubbing.
Rahul Gandhi was criticized by political pundits in Lutyens Delhi for not aligning with BSP but this seems to have worked for the Gandhi scion.
Road to 2019 polls becomes tougher?
The road to 2019 Lok Sabha is clearly getting tougher for BJP-led NDA government at Centre. Repeating the 2014 magic is beyond imagination, returning to power at Centre looks like a big challenge now.
From here on, it’s going to be a tightrope walk for BJP in other crucial states of Hindi heartland. In Bihar, BJP ally Upendra Kushwaha has already quit the NDA alliance while in Uttar Pradesh, possible SP-BSP alliance is going to foment more trouble for the BJP in 2019 elections.
BJP may be counting on its new-found voter base in Odisha and West Bengal but nothing substantial has been achieved yet. Moreover, it’s strained ties with Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, Nitish Kumar in Bihar over seat sharing is only going to make the equation tougher for the saffron party.
In another BJP-held states like Gujarat, the party’s strength has already weaned. And, with BJP losing 3 crucial states just ahead of Parliamentary elections, the party is clearly on a weak wicket.
For now, a clear victory of 272 seats (required for simple majority in the Lok Sabha) seems like a difficult task for the BJP.