The outcome of the Assembly elections may have raised many eye brows since many expected the Congress to do exceedingly well. However, the BJP has completely outwitted the grand old party in the three Northern States, and finds itself in a comfortable and unique position, ahead of the 2024 Parliamentary elections. The Congress can draw solace from the fact that it has won in Telangana, wresting the government from the Bharatiya Rashtra Samithi and ousting K. Chandrasekhar Rao from the Chief Minister’s position after ten years. The BJP’s grand showing in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh may have baffled many correspondents who were reporting from the ground, but it is obvious that they were unable to detect a silent wave in favour of the Saffron Brigade.
The Congress has lost but there are lessons it needs to learn for future contests, the most notable being that in any campaign, the focus should be on core issues, and religion in any manner should not be used as a weapon, particularly against the Hindutva brigade. From the BJP standpoint, the plan worked completely, notwithstanding the usual allegations of EVM tampering, which are made after every election and which have never been substantiated by any real evidence.
The main takeaway from the polls for the BJP is that the victory can be attributed solely to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity. The BJP contested the polls without projecting any CM face and those who voted for it, did so only on the Lotus symbol and the projection of Modi as the supreme leader. Thus, in the semi-finals which many said, the Assembly polls were, the BJP has marched for the final confrontation of 2024 with absolute confidence and clarity. In fact, the inauguration of the Ram temple in the third week of January, is likely to boost its chances and thus, the Modi team would be in the electoral arena as the favourites in next year’s Lok Sabha elections.
What has also worked for the BJP is that it has re-established its complete control over the states. Madhya Pradesh, specially has emerged as the most loyal BJP state after Gujarat. Those who may recall the BJP politics since the Jana Sangh days, may remember that Madhya Pradesh was always a BJP stronghold and it was in fact, after Delhi, the strongest state which was inclined towards the Saffron Brigade. Matters changed when the RSS chose Gujarat as the Hindutva laboratory, and the BJP as well as the right-wing forces have been invincible in that region for nearly 30 years.
Therefore, the return of Madhya Pradesh as a BJP stronghold and the party’s spectacular performance in the neighbouring Chhattisgarh, would have enthused its workers no end. The Congress may have won Telangana but the outcome there is also something which would suit the BJP when the 2024 contest takes place. After the loss in Karnataka, the BJP’s influence in the Southern States had diminished to a large degree. In Telangana too, the party slipped badly but the result would enable it to review its earlier strategy.
Like in Karnataka, the BJP while looking for partners has roped in the Janata Dal (Secular) of former Prime Minister, H.D.Deva Gowda, in Telangana, it may make overtures to the BRS and KCR to have a pre-poll or post poll alliance for 2024 elections. In other words, the party would make up for its diminished status in these two southern states through its regional partners there. The Congress re-emergence in the Telangana region can be fully attributed to its State president Revanth Reddy who has delivered the state, as promised, and is now set to take oath as the next Chief Minister on December 9, Sonia Gandhi’s birthday at 10.30 am. The Congress victory is largely because the Muslim vote returned to the grand old party as it had done in Karnataka earlier.
However, it needs to be understood that there is no leader in India, who has done more for the community than KCR did. However, soon after the Liquor scam broke out in Delhi leading to the arrest of former deputy Chief Minister, Manish Sisodia, the name of KCR’s daughter, Kavitha also figured during the investigations. She was summoned to the capital by the Enforcement Directorate but was not arrested.
The impression that went around the state after that was that the BJP and KCR had struct an underhand deal because of which his daughter was spared. This perception hurt the BRS immensely amongst its Muslim voters, who moved towards the Congress. The shift of Muslim vote is also bad news for Owaisi and his political outfit since they are also being viewed as allies of the BJP, after they have been putting up nominees in various Muslim dominated areas to weaken parties opposed to the Saffron Brigade.
The Congress victory in Telangana may also worry the RSS which is going to examine the entire issue as a divide between the North and South and thus may also intervene in supervising all future strategies of the BJP. The outcome in the three Northern States may also have some sort of an impact on the future of several top leaders such as Kamal Nath, Ashok Gehlot, Bhupesh Baghel, Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Raman Singh and Vasundhara Raje. Even the role of Digvijai Singh and P.Chidmabaram, considered by many in the Congress as spoilers may be scrutinized by the High Command.
However, all these leaders will get their last chance in 2024 and therefore would have to reinvent themselves. The BJP has won and this victory is solely because of the Prime Minister.