BJP: With NE in the bag, it looks forward to 2019

BJP: With NE in the bag, it looks forward to 2019

The lights blazed in the shiny state of the art new BJP office, everybody seemed to be inebriated over the Party’s amazing victory over the CPM Government in Tripura , well-entrenched for 25 years. And it was an incredible victory, BJP secured two-third majority. Astounding indeed. Congress failed to win even one seat. Meghnad Desai rightly pointed out that instead of facing the electorate Rahul Gandhi preferred to meet his nanii in Italy. Some allege there was an election there and he had gone to cast his vote. It all boils down one’s priorities.

The victory in the North-East means for BJP ‘many splendored manifestations’ which will have an impact on national politics, and especially on the 2019 General Election.

“The loudest message coming out of Tripura after poll verdict is that the BJP can indeed make headway in ‘virgin territories’ — and that too in a short span of time — if it knuckles down,’ observed a commentator.

“This is no small signal for the party’s cadre, faced as it will be with more formidable battles coming up in Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Lok Sabha elections next year.” There is no doubt that Amit Shah has built most powerful election machinery in the world. He put in a  three-year plan to wrest Tripura from the CPM. He is adept in ousting non-BJP governments, pointed out a senior journalist. But not as good in keeping his own party-led governments safe from political assaults.

However the BJP cadre and RSS activists are surely stimulated, the BJP leadership did well to reach to the level of foot-soldiers the significance of the victory in the north-east.

The victory in north-east means the BJP is no longer just a Hindu hinterland outfit, it is an all India national party….”the northeast verdict makes the BJP that much than just a pan-Indian party, having removed the Congress from the region. It now wants to have a foothold put in the south and needs to conquer at least one southern state. Which is why Karnataka, that goes to poll soon, has acquired a significance all of its own. If the BJP  establishes a foothold in Karnataka, the Congress will be left with its last bastion in Punjab.

With the BJP rediscovering its winning streak anything is possible.  Momentum matters in politics and at the moment BJP is on a roll.

The defeat in two parliamentary seats of Alwar and Ajmer in Rajasthan was a setback. But with the Meena leader, Kirori Lal, re-joining BJP after a decade and made a Rajya Sabha MP, things look positive for the saffron party. Meenas have decisive influence in 45 assembly constituencies.

The defeat in two parliamentary by-elections in Madhya Pradesh was not so serious. Firstly both constituencies fall in the erstwhile estate of Jyotiraditya Scindia, and he is almost revered by people there. Secondly, these seats were earlier won by the Congress. So the party has retained the seats but hugely decreased margins.

The BJP’s upswing in the north-eastern state has noticeably upset both TMC in West Bengal and Navin Patnaik’s Biju Janta Dal in Odisha, this is why alone the BJPs standing has undergone a tremendous metamorphosis. Sources said that Didi is worried that some disgruntled leaders and cadres could defect to the BJP, which has already made inroads in the countryside.

A worried Biju Janata Dal (BJD) was also quick to react — that there was no chance of the BJP coming to power in odisha. This statement was to reassure himself, others are not taken by it. .

The party leadership is aware that it will have to pick up seats in hitherto uncharted territories to comfortably return to a second term in 2019. The BJP’s northeast strategy also showed the importance it is now giving to alliances. It knows that it may need partners if it falls short of the majority figure in 2019. It has piggybacked regional forces where it isn’t strong itself, such as in Nagaland, where it beat back a 15-year anti-incumbency of the NDA’s Nagaland People’s Front (NPF) by backing the Neiphiu Rio-led Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), which it helped create.


The Tripura story is as much about a Congress collapse as it is about the Left’s growing irrelevance. The positions of the Congress and the BJP have got reversed in the last five years. The Congress had 37% of the vote in 2013, and is down to 1.8% today. The BJP had 1.5% five years ago, which is 43% today. The Grand Old Party has got squeezed out both in Tripura and Nagaland, having given up even before the battle had begun.

Congress’ Northeast woes: Vote share down 13% since 2014; BJP’s up 23% From winning an average of 1.5 seats in the six states’ elections between 2009 and 2014, the BJP has won an average of 23.5 seats here since 2014


 

The BJP’s upswing in the north-eastern state has noticeably upset both TMC in West Bengal and Patnaik in Odisha, this is why alone the BJPs standing has undergone a tremendous metamorphosis. Sources said that Didi is worried that some disgruntled leaders and cadres could defect to the BJP, which has already made inroads in the countryside.

A worried Biju Janata Dal (BJD) was also quick to react — that there was no chance of the BJP coming to power in Orissa. This was  more to assure himself, no one else is so sure.

Those who are harping on the recent losses in states, need to be told that  the significance of victory in the north-east is far more than losses in a few by-polls. It gives Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership a wider acceptance, for North-east is virtually a different India, it represents extreme diversity, the people look different, their culture and lifestyle is so different. …’ it represents the ‘kaleidoscopic diversity of India’.

The BJP is now acceptable outside ‘mainland’ (read: Hindu-dominated) India. The seven sisters of the northeast represent 24 Lok Sabha seats, equivalent to a mid-sized state, in fact its short by just one seat from Rajasthan which sends 25 MPs. These 24 or whatever number BJP wins in 2019 will offset the losses it is bound to suffer, for 2014 was a unique election, it won’t be repeated in 2019. The present victory means Seven Sister States will be like an insurance.

The victory in the north-east also shows the difference in the approaches  of the BJP and the Congress. Rahul was happy with moral victory in Gujarat, whereas the BJP has plans and determination to capture power all over. And this difference is what was evident in the north-east.

 

By  Vijay Dutt

 

 

 

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