Friday, March 1, 2024

State polls: Advantage BJP

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The Congress took a hit and the BJP triumphed yet again in the Hindi heartland. The results of the assembly polls released on Sunday made it amply clear that the road ahead for the INDIA alliance, approaching the 2024 Parliament Polls, would be a tough one. The Congress lost two states – Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh – and won one, namely Telangana. It failed to grab Madhya Pradesh. The BJP laughed its way through the vote counting in Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh states after establishing early leads. The electorate has given a decisive verdict in all these states, leaving no scope for horse-trading. The failure of the Congress to win at least two states could now be used by INDIA alliance partners like Mamata Banerjee to rubbish Rahul Gandhi and seize control of the alliance itself, or euphemistically revisit the theme of “collective leadership” at the December 6 meeting.
Several satraps who put their future PM hopes in the freezer could now extricate it and throw their weight around. Not Telangana’s overambitious K Chandrashekar Rao, who took a hit below his belt, however. The Congress in Telangana formed part of a grand strategy devised by the powerful Reddy community to call KCR’s bluff and send him packing. His hopes of becoming PM in Delhi and leaving the CM chair for his son, minister KT Rama Rao, went awry in one sweet go. A ‘dynasty’ fell by the wayside. By foisting his family at the top of the governance system, KCR sought to take the people for granted. The BJP that adopted a soft approach to KCR lost an opportunity to harness the anti-KCR feelings in the state to its advantage. A change of state BJP chief – from a backward class (BC) to a Reddy — at the last minute by itself did not help either.
In Madhya Pradesh, the 77-year-old Kamalnath proved to be no match to the relatively young BJP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Under Chouhan, the BCs reasserted their clout and backed him. Kamalnath’s corrupt image failed to help the Congress. The tribal belts in Chhattisgarh sided this time with the BJP and the Congress could not do proper groundwork for the polls despite being in power there. So was the case with Rajasthan, where the fight between Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot played spoilsport. While Telangana saved the Congress party’s face to an extent, it could not match up with the money power of the BJP on the campaign front. The present win for the BJP in the Hindi belt is not necessarily a guarantee to its victory in the 2024 parliament polls. Nor does this victory have too much to do with PM Modi’s charisma. Several other factors were at work, better organisational strength, for instance.

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