BJP emerges strong ahead of 2019

Last Updated: Wed, Mar 15, 2017 14:13 hrs
BJP emerges strong ahead of 2019

(Supporters of BJP hold a cutout of Modi as they celebrate elections results)

The BJP is the clear winner in this round of Assembly elections in five states. With a decisive mandate in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and its impressive showing in close races in Manipur and Goa the party is giving all credit to the Modi wave which has apparently succeeded in combating people’s perceptions about demonetisation. For Congress, the only saving grace was Punjab. The party is in for tough times ahead given their loss in UP. Here are some of the highlights from the results in each state.

BJP’s clean sweep in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand

BJP emerged victorious in an unprecedented showing in UP winning 325 seats in the 403 member assemble with almost 40% of the vote share. The Congress-Samajwadi combine with about 54 seats and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samawadi Party reduced to an insignificant 19 seats.

Sify’s Satish Acharya depicted the win rightly in this cartoon – no one expected the victory would be so big.

According to The First Post, media and the polls failed to see this coming.

In the countless on-the-spot reportage, opinion pieces, endless studio discussions and breathless reporting, there was not even one suggestion that Uttar Pradesh, a state renowned since almost its inception for returning fractured verdicts, is experiencing a Modi wave.

Sagarika Ghose writes in the Times of India that it was Modi’s persona that won the elections for the BJP as there was conscious effort to build an image of a pro poor welfarist, turning the demonetisation, which many thought would cause an adverse impact, into a war against the rich.

Reaching directly across to the voter above the heads of the party, promising them a war against the rich, UP 2017 evoked Indira Gandhi’s bank nationalization moment in 1969 when putting the rich in their place had become a vote winner with the poor. Like Indira Gandhi, Modi was able to stand forth as a champion of the poor. “The suit boot ki sarkar charge did hit us,” said a senior BJP leader, “we completely changed course and went out of our way to change our image from pro Ambani and Adani to create a coalition of the poor.”

Congress leader Ashwani Kumar said that overly opposing demonetisation may have not been the right strategy.

Excessive reliance on demonetisation did not help us. We were seen standing with the rich and the corrupt. That was not our intention

The Bahujan Samaj Party which got the second highest vote share has not lost its core support. According to Karthik Sashidhar’s analysis in Live Mint

The problem for the BSP was that the 22.2% vote share the party received was spread too evenly across constituencies—it wasn’t able to garner enough votes in each constituency to win—giving it a paltry 19 seats. In Uttarakhand, too BJP’s performance is being credited to the Modi wave. The party won 57 seats with a vote share of 46% as opposed to the Congress’s 11 seats and 33.5% vote share.. BJP leader Piyush Goyal said

Today nation is standing with PM Narendra Modi Modi. This is the victory of people of Uttarakhand.

Chief Minister Harish Rawat lost to BJP contenders in both constituencies.

Close races in Goa and Manipur but with bargaining and deflections, BJP stakes claim

There were four major contenders for the 40 seats in the Goa Assembly - Congress, BJP, Aam Admi Party and the smaller Maharashtrawadi Gomanthak party and the Goa Foward. While the present Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar has lost his seat, Congress’s Digambar Vasant Kamat who is also former Chief Minister, has won in his constituency, Margao. The Times of India reported -

During his door-to-door campaign, Digambar Kamat repeated one mantra frequently. "Call me any time, 24x7. You need no agent to come to me. Development and all is fine, but you know what it means to have a door to knock on in times of need," is what he told his electorate.

Although the Congress had 17 votes, just one lesser than BJP the latter has staked claim to form government. Even as counting as underway it was expected that neither party would be close to the magic figure of 21 seats. The Indian Express reported that the MNP and smaller parties may play the king maker and that is exactly what happened.

Mayabhushan Nagvenkar wrote about the night long negotiations which finally sealed the deal for BJP as both the MNP and Goa Forward Party agreed to support the BJP after they were promised ministerial berths by Nitin Gadkari. Nagvenkar in The News Minute

The Congress leaders, including party general secretary Digvijaya Singh and top state politicians, camped at the iconic Mandovi hotel in Panaji, where for five hours they wrangled over the choice of CLP leader, apart from waiting for Sardesai and other Independents. State president Luizinho Faleiro, former Chief Ministers Digambar Kamat and Pratapsingh Rane, were potential candidates for the post, but each camp and their proxies rejected each other, wasting precious time.

The Governor invited the BJP to form the government and current Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar will be sworn in as Chief Minister.

A similar situation in Manipur too which saw a record turnout of almost 86% in the second phase of polling. The Congress has been ruling the state for almost a decade and a half and faced a tough challenge from the BJP. With the BJP and its alliance of regional parties together got 30 seats. Ram Madhav of the BJP said that the performance of the BJP has been satisfactory given that the state unit was weak.

Ram Madhav, one of BJP’s Secretaries has been credited with making the party a force in the north east, first with Arunachal Pradesh and then Assam. Archis Mohan writes in the Business Standard that Madhav may be a strong contender for the party chief’s post

In the Northeast, Madhav had led the BJP strategy to strike important alliances with smaller regional parties. In Assam, Madhav pursued the then Congress leader Himanta Biswa Sarma to join the BJP and goaded his party leadership to strike sensible alliances with outfits like Asom Gana Parishad and Bodoland People’s Front. The BJP won a famous and unprecedented victory in the Assam Assembly polls in mid-2016, forming its first ever government there.

Irom Sharmila, human rights activist who ended her 16 year long fast seeking repeal of AFSPA lost to the sitting Chief Minister Okram Ibobi, managing to get only 90 votes.

India Today reported that the BJP has managed to get on board an MLA from TMC and the Congress who were paraded before the Governor to prove majority.

Technically, the defecting Congress candidate stands for disqualification due to the move. Which means that the effective strength of the house gets reduced to 59. In that case, the magic figure will be 30 which the BJP combine already has. Meanwhile, sources in the BJP claim that at least a dozen more Congress MLA's were "in touch" with them to switch over. Interestingly, BJP hasn't chosen its leader of the legislature party as its waiting for its central observers to arrive in Imphal on Monday.

Congress wins in Punjab, poor showing for AAP

The Aam Admi Party worked hard to expand its base beyond Delhi and campaigned extensively in Punjab as an alternative to the BJP-Akali Dal and Congress. However, the Congress led by veteran politician Captain Amarinder Singh emerged victorious. The Captain, who was the candidate in Patiala and Lambi, where he contested against current Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal, said that he would retire from politics if he lost the election. Although he lost to Badal by 22,000 votes, the Congress was comfortably ahead in the final count.

There is also a feeling that the Congress was victorious not because of its national leadership, but because of the regional leaders.

Pretika Khanna writes in the Live Mint that AAPs poor showing in Punjab and Goa is a setback.

The party fancied its chances in Goa and Punjab, given the anti-incumbency factor and the relatively small size of the two states, where its campaign was personally led by Kejriwal. The party used strategies similar to its campaign in Delhi such as crowd funding and releasing a manifesto based on consultations with the voters.

According to Tadit Kundu, Live Mint, the Congress managed to win over several AAP voters leading to a resounding victory.

A close look at the seats won by the Congress party suggests that the Congress victory in the state is due in large measure to its ability to win back voters who had deserted it in the 2014 elections to back AAP. Punjab was one of the few states in India where the newly-formed AAP performed reasonably well in the 2014 general elections.


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