BJP continues to steam-roll its way, but ….

The BJP is on a roll. After the Lok Sabha elections exceeded probably even the normal expectations of the BJP leadership, it would seem that the party had proved that Modi was the vote-getter, the mascot, the one who would drive the aspirations of the BJP. The subsequent state elections proved this further, with the various state elections propelling the BJP to the forefront. There was a setback in the sense that a series of bypolls pushed the BJP to the backfoot, but it could be argued that Modi did not spend any time campaigning on those elections, and hence there was no connect of the voting citizens with the local BJP leadership, which led to a dismal performance in these bypolls. On the other hand, if you look at the state elections where the BJP went all out to campaign with Modi holding a number of rallies, they all came to the BJP pocket.
So why is there a ‘but’ in the title ? The ‘but’ is because analysis of these results show some interesting points. 2 of the most critical points relate to the voting percentages, as well as the opposition. Let us take the second point first. It is becoming rapidly clear that there is a widespread resentment against the mis-rule of the Congress party for the past decade, whether this be at the state level or the central lever. So, wherever there is a direct contest of the BJP against the Congress, the Congress is going down badly and the BJP is emerging ahead. For example, the Maharashtra poll is a good example where the opposing parties were the Congress and the Congress-spinoff, the NCP. Both these parties have been reduced to be being a pale representation of their earlier stronger selfs. Another example was Harayana where the key player was the Congress, although there were regional parties; and the Congress got decimated.

However, when you move to a state where there are credible opposition parties (not taking about how successful they are in terms of development and key issues), these oppositions parties have not lied down and pretended to be dead, instead they have managed to slow down the BJP juggernaut. Jharkand and J&K were good examples of these. In both these states, the BJP did much better than previous experiences, and yet they are down from their Lok Sabha voting percentage. Many of the calculations talk about a 10% reduction in the vote share of the BJP, which is a big reduction. The BJP is already in strong positions in most of the states that seem natural fit for it, with some of the potential larger states still out of its grasp; such as West Bengal, Assam, Orissa, and other surrounding states. However, it will not be easy for the BJP to get in a leadership position in these states, there are strong local players who will fight to defend their turf.
What would be most worrying for the BJP would be ensuring that the numbers pick up, and for all that, they need to push the development plank. This is difficult when the Govt is still trying to turn around the economy and has so far not gone in for the brash steps that would push reforms fast (recent changes of a couple of days do not get reflected in this post); and stopping corruption does not seem to be on the horizon of the Govt. The other is the antics of the RSS right-wing brigades that are becoming very controversial and seem to be putting speed controllers on the action of the Govt. Hopefully the Prime Minister will use authority and ensure focus is back on the development; else the vote count is likely to start causing problems to the BJP.

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