It is now crystal clear and open with no iota of Ambiguity. BJP high command and RSS have completely fallen on prime minister, Narendra Modi’s ‘Charisma’ to win five state polls which is evident from a personal appeal made by PM to the voters of Madhya Pradesh and decision not to project any leader as chief ministerial face including present chief minister, Shivraj Chouhan which has relegated him to the background.
Political observers do not rule out an identical letter from Modi for the people of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram thereby focusing on his personality and promise to change their fate which seems to be on the analogy of Mrs Indira Gandhi’s authoritarian control and solo dominance over organization. In Mrs Gandhi’s era, Congress party cadres and leaders were completely dependent on her to win every election for them and history is repeating itself in Modi’s epoch though the outcome of ensuing assembly polls is embedded in mystery and uncertainty.
Opinions Differ About Fallout On 2024
Opinions are divided about the impact of victory and losses in these state polls in Nov next month. One school of thought says that if BJP is defeated in these elections then the outcome will have no impact on 2024 polls as voters’ preference is different when it comes to elect central government. BJP lost assembly polls in Hindi heartland but it swept Lok Sabha polls by winning 61 out 65 seats which included 24(25) Rajasthan, 28(29) MP and 9(11) in Chhattisgarh and it was primarily owing to Modi wave and nationalistic agenda. Modi's popularity has gone very high at international level and he commands maximum acceptance in the eyes of electorates in India. Experts say that BJP will be armed with Hindutva which is bound to be strengthened after the inauguration of Ram Temple in January and it will be exploited to the hilt. BJP has got vast resources and RSS will use its’ well-oiled machinery to ensure success of the party candidates in Lok Sabha polls. BJP will try to convince about the spectacular performance of NDA Government and strong leadership of Modi which made it possible to abrogate article 370, adopt 33 percent women reservation bill in parliament besides.
On the contrary critics believe that if BJP loses state polls then it is bound to give back to saffron in parliamentary polls. They say that there are predominant factors which will upset BJP's calculations. First, there will be no Pulwama and surgical strikes to create nationwide feelings of Nationalism. Second, the popularity of Congress and opposition parties were at its lowest ebb hence voters did not have an alternative to BJP. Third, Modi’s ‘Charisma’ may not be sufficient to neutralize the nine-year Anti-incumbency of NDA Government. Fourth, common people are facing the worst type of skyrocketing prices of essential commodities which has made their survival difficult. Fifth, youths had voted in large numbers in the country for BJP but now unemployment problem is at its zenith which has angered this dominant section of the society. Sixth, middle class seems to be affected and response from vary from 2019. Seventh, BJP's downward journey has been stalled by Congress in Karnataka and AIADMK's decision to severe ties with BJP has given a jolt in Tamil Nadu. BJP cannot ride to power without having significant seats from southern states. Finally, the opposition parties have come under the umbrella of I.N.D.I.A. which can be attributed to their compulsion of alleged misuse of investigating agencies against them and their leaders. The chances of declaring a PM candidate seems extremely difficult but even if they broadly agree to share seats and decide not to field candidates against each other than arithmetic of votes may make difference in the final outcome in all states in the country in 2024.
Entry Of Ministers And MPs May Change Existing Equation In MP
To checkmate sitting CM, Shivraj Chouhan, BJP high command surprised its ministers like Narendra Singh Tomar, Prahlad Singh Patel and Faggan Singh Kulaste who figured in the first list of candidates for MP polls. As per party calculations union ministers may have their influence across the state though they have to yet to prove their statewide appeal amongst the people.
Experts say that the ministers or MPs hardly do micro level management of particular constituencies which should worry them in MP. They may not have the state level stature when compared with Chouhan who may be sulking as he has not been declared as CM candidate despite being at the helm of affairs. BJP high command and the top brass of RSS have taken a big risk by making prime minister, Narendra Modi as face of the party and refrained from naming chief ministerial candidates in poll bound states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram.
Based on a different analogy, BJP has experimented with new strategy of fielding 24 MPs and 4 union ministers in three poll bound states including MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh which reflects saffron party’s ‘desperate move and resolve’ to ensure victory in these states to create better narrative for 2024 parliamentary polls. 2nd, it may be aimed at neutralizing the anguish of the voters who may have to rethink when new faces (MPs and ministers) are fielded from such constituencies.
Risk-Oriented Strategy May Backfire Also
As per outcome of Karnataka and Himachal assembly elections, Modi’s all out aggressive campaign and Hindutva did not work hence if BJP fails to oust congress in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh and C.S. Rao’s ‘Bharat Rashtra Sanithi’(BRS) in Telangana besides losing MP then it may have direct bearing on 2024 parliamentary elections in 2024.But if the results go in favor of BJP then it may have double impact to ensure victory of Modi for third successive time. Experts say that BJP’s think tank might have assessed the possible impact of Modi government’s nine-year performance and welfare measures which may give the weightage to the party’s nominees in the elections in the state polls also.
BJP High Command Relaxes Its Muscles In Rajasthan
A revolt was brewing in Bhairon Singh Shekhwat legacy and Ex CM, Vasundhara Raje camp which preceded denial of the tickets to son in law of former vice president, Shekhawat and sidelining of Raje which may calm down after BJP high command adopted flexible approach to save the party. Shekhawat’s son in law and sitting party MLA ,Narpat Singh Rajvi was denied ticket from his stronghold Vidhayadhar Nagar in Jaipur which had surprised many in saffron party. But now he has been accommodated in the 2nd list from his home district Bikaner though resentment prevails in his previous assembly segment which was nourished by him over the years. Similarly, Raje’s loyalists figured in the latest list which might have soothing effect on her supporters but BJP top brass had intentionally completely sidelined her during past five years which may have some bearing during the assembly polls.
In Telangana, chances of any tie-up between Rashtriya Bharat Samithi (BRS) and BJP seem to be remote especially when PM had exposed CM, C.S.Rao for expressing his desire to contest Hyderabad municipal polls together which was turned down by his party. Congress leader cadres are hoping to unsettle BRS in Telangana as BJP has been relegated to 3rd position. Some of the surveys have predicted Congress victory in Chhattisgarh which is being attributed to strategy and welfare works done by present CM, Baghel during his five year regime. BJP’s toppling game was tartwarted by Baghel and high command’s decision to rehabilitate as deputy CM had helped in checking dissensions in congress to some extent.
Analysts opine that BJP’s ‘Gujarat Model’ of replacing older generation leaders yielded positive result in Uttarakhand, Goa and Tripura but it miserably failed to deliver in Karnataka. Now it will be interesting to see whether new strategy to push union ministers and MPs in electoral fray will work to the advantage of the party or it will backfire?
(Writer is a Political Analyst and senior journalist based in Shimla)