Assembly poll outcome puts BJP in good position - GulfToday

Assembly poll outcome puts BJP in good position

BRP Bhaskar


Indian journalist with over 50 years of newspaper, news agency and television experience.


Supports celebrate election results.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party has established a psychological advantage for itself in the bid for a hat-trick in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections by its good performance in the recent Assembly elections in five states.

The party was in power in four of the five states: Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur. It retained power in all of them.

The party’s convincing victory in UP is significant. The most populous state, it accounts for 80 of the 545 Lok Sabha seats.

The Congress party was routed in Punjab, where it was in power. The Aam Admi Party had a landslide victory there.

The Punjab outcome raises two important questions. One is whether the Nehru-Gandhi family, which presides over the Congress, can be relied upon to lead it forward in today’s conditions. The other is whether new parties will replace the Congress as the BJP’s major challenger in more states.

The BJP faced some difficulty in UP on the eve of the election with some of its Dalit and Other Backward Class leaders showing signs of disaffection. Modi and his team immediately went into action and contained the fallout.

The Congress leadership failed to tackle factionalism in its Punjab unit. The way Rahul Gandhi handled the issue actually contributed to the party’s downfall.

He had taken over the presidentship of the Congress from his mother, Sonia Gandhi, before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. He resigned after the elections, owning responsibility for the party’s poor performance. The party then made Sonia Gandhi president again, as a temporary measure.

The Nehru-Gandhi family was not politically active after Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. Sonia accepted the party post on the insistent demand of partymen when it was in a state of decline. Under her leadership it staged a comeback and headed a coalition government at the Centre for 10 years.

The corruption charges against that government set the stage for its fall and the BJP’s return under Modi’s leadership.

Sonia Gandhi is known to have health issues which limit her ability to function.

Although Rahul Gandhi turned down repeated requests from party leaders to withdraw his resignation and resume presidentship of the party, it is an open secret that he participates in top-level decision-making, along with his sister, Priyanka Vadra.

The party’s loss of power in Punjab was a direct consequence of some unwise decisions taken by the central leadership. These resulted in a worsening of factionalism in the state party and the exit of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

When he was the party president, Rahul Gandhi had appointed Priyanka Vadra as General Secretary. She was in charge of UP in the Assembly election. She could not prevent the party from going down to its most dismal performance in any election so far.

Against this background, the Congress Working Committee’s public statement on Sunday, reiterating its faith in Sonia Gandhi’s leadership and calling upon her to lead from the front is an inadequate, not to say immature response to the serious situation the party is facing.

The Congress has scheduled organisational elections from the lowest level to the topmost. If the process is gone through as scheduled, the party will have an elected President in August.

This means the party has to carry on for five more months without a functioning president. The next Lok Sabha election is only two years away.  Sonia Gandhi must consider naming a party leader, preferably from outside the family, as working president and entrust him or her with the task of undertaking preparatory work for the 2024 campaign.

The Aam Aadmi Party, founded by Arvind Kejriwal, a civil servant turned activist, in 2012, is a by-product of the anti-corruption movement, led by Anna Hazare, that sealed the fate of the last Congress-led government at the Centre.

In the 2013 elections in Delhi state, which threw up a hung Assembly, AAP was the second largest party. To keep the BJP out of power the Congress offered it support to form the government. Kejriwal became the Chief Minister. In the next election, AAP won a comfortable majority on its own.

Encouraged by the early electoral success, Kejriwal fielded 434 candidates in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.  In the absence of a machinery across the country to convert whatever goodwill it had into votes, the gamble for a quick national advance failed. Its vote share was only two per cent.

Its success in Punjab in the Assembly election shows it has the potential to extend its reach beyond Delhi.

The emergence of such new players may alter the poll scenario before 2024.

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