The Bihar elections over – where does it leave the BJP

The loss in the Delhi elections was a serious setback to the BJP power duo of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah (although it would not be wrong to point out that Amit Shah has no major power base of his own, his power stems almost totally from his close association with Modi). When the BJP lost the Delhi elections disastrously, it was seen as a massive reversal, given that they had won every state election after the Lok Sabha elections. The scale of the election loss in Delhi was horrible indeed, given that the BJP only won 3 of the 70 seats that were up for grabs (their only consolation was that the Congress did not win a single seat). After that, it was somewhat dismissed by the BJP – the Delhi electorate is a bit unsound, they are too educated and hence willing to take chances, wanted a change, mesmerized by the anti-corruption agenda of Kejriwal, and so on. However, the Bihar elections has truly come as a rude shock to the BJP. Now that it has been some days since the result, time to look at what this means. There are many immediate impact points on the BJP. Some of these are:
– The dream run of the PM is over, it is no longer that Narendra Modi can motivate the electorate in a state to vote for the BJP. This holds good when there is a viable opposition party or a united opposition; however, when the party is fighting the Congress as the main adversary, the Congress remains discredited enough that it can be defeated.

– The Government was elected on the basis of a campaign that was fought on development, against the corruption of the Congress, against price rise and for more jobs. Even though the Modi Government has been helped out by the massive reduction in international oil prices, the perception about an increase in food prices (especially the price of cereals) has gone against the Government and there is no real high creation of jobs. The government may think it has 5 years to show results, but the expectations of the public do not stretch to that level of patience.
– The attempt of the BJP was to try to polarize the electorate, to bring in the Hindutva brigade and ensure that people are swayed by this logic, leading to statements by many BJP and allied leaders. There was revulsion by people across the country, but it was probably felt that this polarization was working and there would be enough of the electorate that was swayed and would contribute to the victory margin. However, the election results showed that none of this worked. This is a double whammy. Not only did this tactic not work, but it also galvanized many people against such tactics employed by the BJP in other states and across the country.
– Expansion plans across the country are now in danger. The BJP is already dominating the Hindi heart belt, with large number of seats in these areas; both in terms of Lok Sabha seats and in control of the state legislature. Getting more seats or expanding will mean being able to get seats outside the comfort zone of the BJP, and this remains now the biggest challenge. At this time, the loss of the momentum of the Lok Sabha elections is threatening this project expansion of the BJP.
– What remains good for Modi is the lack of any dissension in the party. Even though the attempt by the neglected elders to try and hit out at the Modi-Amit Shah combine was seemingly serious, it has totally collapsed. The reality is that Modi still remains the popular and vote-getting leader of the party and that does not seem to be changing easily. The other members of the leadership, Arun Jaitley and Amit Shah derive their power from their association with Modi and will retain power as long as they retain the favor of Modi.

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