Wednesday, February 8, 2023

A predictable outcome

A total of 19 states will be going for elections before the ‘big fight’ in May 2024 when Narendra Modi seeks a third re-election. Before that several states will be going to the polls beginning from December 2022 in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. Then in the early part of 2023,state elections will be held in Nagaland, Meghalaya,Tripura, Mizoram, Chhattisgarh and Telangana. Then in May 2024 election will be held in Sikkim and Karnataka, probably simultaneously with the Lok Sabha election. However the ECI will take the call. The remaining seven states-Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, Haryana, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Delhi- will go to the polls after the Lok Sabha election. The BJP is the ruling party in seven states-Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Arunachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Tripura and Madhya Pradesh and is ruling coalition partner with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra. The BJP is already on full battle throttle in the big states and will take these elections as the litmus test for the mother of all battles – Lok Sabha elections in May 2024. While the BJP is in full throttle, there is no strong opposition to attract the anti-incumbency factor against the BJP in many states. In state after state, the Congress, supposedly the main challenger to the BJP, has been found wanting. In Gujarat the once bastion of the Congress, the party has all but given up the fight and left it for the Aam Admi Party(AAP) to face the BJP. The failure of the Congress to convince voters of its relevance and capability in poll-bound states has further exposed the misplaced priorities of the party. The Bharat Jodo Yatra is a good idea but it could have been timed at least six months before state assembly elections. The Yartra is taking the time, resources and manpower to revive Rahul’s image instead of focussing on strengthening the party organisation especially in poll bound states. True, that across India, there is a sense of anti-incumbency against the BJP and therefore the need for a change is loud and clear. However, Congress has not concentrated in rebuilding its rank and file and this has led to exodus of young and experienced leaders as they realised that the party has lost its sense of direction. The opaque vision of the leadership in the Congress has only added to disillusionment and demoralisation of the party rank and file. The BJP under Modi has been on an untiring election-mode and has kept the mega organisation battle worthy . The sense of vision, direction and action has also attracted young leaders from other political parties to the BJP. In the forthcoming polls in the north east, the BJP may make a big impact in Meghalaya, presently ruled by the Sangma-led NPP .The BJP could also retain Tripura where it is in power. Despite anti-incumbency the BJP in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh faces no opposition. The AAP is trying to fill the space left by the Congress but BJP can withstand the challenge. The BJP is determined to wrest most of the states going to the polls from December 2022 to May 2024 since that will boost its chances for a massive landslide in Lok Sabha elections in 2024. The BJP will be helped by continuous infighting of opposition parties and the ego clash of the leaders which has left Modi without a challenger.

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