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Achhe din for the BJP: Assam conquered, Congress-mukt Bharat next?

Panini Anand | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:49 IST
QUICK PILL
Historic verdict
  • The BJP has got close to a majority in Assam on its own, but insists it\'ll form the govt with its NDA partners
  • It has also succeeded in winning an unprecedented three seats in West Bengal and one in Kerala
The significance
  • The Assembly poll results have taken the BJP a step closer to its dream of a Congress-mukt Bharat
  • The verdict is likely to deflate the Congress\'s aggression in Parliament
More in the story
  • What BJP national president Amit Shah said to Mamata Banerjee and J Jayalalithaa
  • The reasons for the BJP\'s victory. And this time, it\'s not Modi

The smile has returned to Amit Shah's face after 15 months. Since the embarrassing Delhi Assembly elections defeat in February 2015, the BJP national president has not seemed as comfortable facing the media as he did on Thursday, 19 May.

But the Assembly election results seem to have changed all that, and brought back the 'achhe din' for the BJP. The party, on its own, has got close to a majority in Assam, but Shah insists it is committed to forming the government with its NDA allies, the Asom Gana Parishad and the Bodoland People's Front.

Also read - Verdict 2016: BJP rising, Congress floundering, Left middling

Assam has come as a huge relief for the BJP, which had been demoralised by the resounding verdicts in Delhi and Bihar last year.

To put the icing on the cake, the BJP has also succeeded in winning three seats in West Bengal and one in Kerala.

Vote share on the rise

The result is historic because it is the party's first-ever success in Kerala, while in Bengal, its only previous victory had come via a bypoll.

Its vote percentage in the states has also risen significantly in the last two elections. In the 2011 Bengal elections, the BJP had polled just 4.06% of the votes, which increased to 16.80% for the NDA in the 2014 general elections. Now, it has polled 10.2% of the votes.

The BJP's vote share in West Bengal has gone up from 4.06% in 2011 to 10.2% now

Similarly, in Kerala, the party had received 6.03% of the votes in 2011, 10.33% in 2014 and has now got 10.6%.

In Assam, meanwhile, the party had received just 11.47% of the votes in 2011, winning five seats. Then, in 2014, it won seven of the state's 14 parliamentary seats with 36.5% of the vote. This time, the BJP alone has polled 29.5% of the votes.

Even till five years ago, these states seemed a distant dream for the party. But the results are indicative that the BJP has laid a solid foundation in these states. In doing so, it has made itself a pan-India party. Seemingly impregnable forts now fly the BJP flag.

The right strategy

The question is, what has brought 'achhe din' back to the BJP, which, with the same leadership and managers, failed to save face in Delhi and Bihar?

Cabinet minister Ravi Shankar Prasad says: "The people of these states have voted for the performance and vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The results show that people have rejected the Opposition's agenda of not letting the government function, and voted for the development and work Modiji is doing."

However, this can't really be the reason, since Delhi and Bihar saw extensive campaigning by Modi and the central leadership of the party.

A senior party leader explains: "We gave a chance to the regional leadership. We kept them at the forefront this time, and raised local issues, instead of amalgamating them with the understanding of the central leadership. This really worked. We learnt this from Bihar and Delhi, and this worked fantastically for us this time."

A BJP leader says: 'We gave a chance to the regional leadership. We learnt this from Bihar & Delhi'

Modi addressed fewer rallies in these states, as did Shah. This made sure the state party machinery had enough time and space to remain focussed on the voter, rather than preparing for the PM and other senior leaders' rallies.

The RSS helped the BJP in fine-tuning its on-ground strategy. Faces like Ram Madhav were given prominent roles, and they delivered.

"The lessons from the Bihar and Delhi elections have worked for us. We should implement them in other states as well. We should give more importance to the state-level leadership, and state-level issues as well," adds the party leader.

Nation without Opposition

It's a situation that the BJP has been waiting for. There are multiple plans the BJP has kept on hold, waiting for the right moment.

From organisational-level changes to restructuring Team Shah to a Cabinet reshuffle at the Centre, the BJP has now got the opportunity to do what it wants. It was hesitant to do so earlier, due to electoral defeats and attacks by the Opposition.

The best news for the BJP is the defeat of the Congress, which has now lost most of its forts. The biggest state now ruled by the Congress is Karnataka, and these losses will clip its wings in Parliament and outside it too.

Till now, the Congress, despite a poor presence in the Lok Sabha, played the role of the main Opposition party in Parliament and outside. An aggressive Congress also brought embarrassment to the BJP and stopped it from doing many of the things on its agenda. That aggression is expected to be badly-hit by these results.

A weak Congress and an ailing Left will no longer decide the agenda of the Opposition in Parliament now. This means a more divided Opposition even in the Rajya Sabha, where the NDA is in a minority.

The Assembly poll verdicts may result in the BJP gaining more friends in both houses of Parliament

This might result in the BJP gaining more friends in both houses. In fact, Shah's first reaction to the results was: "We congratulate Mamata and Jayalalithaa for their victories in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu... We welcome all who want to come on board in bringing development to the country."

The BJP will also take this opportunity to take the 'achche din' mood to other states, and prepare more aggressively for states like Punjab, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, which go to the polls early next year.

"These things help in setting the context. The message of the victory will boost the workers and go in favour of the party," says a BJP leader.

Winning seats in these seats is, no doubt, a happy occasion for the BJP. But what will make the party and the PM happier is the defeat of the Congress. A nation without Opposition is what they want, and they've moved a few steps forward in that direction.

As a BJP leader sums it up: "A Congress-mukt Bharat would be the real achhe din for the BJP."

More in Catch -West Bengal: How RSS and mysterious sadhus helped BJP improve its tally

Congress-mukt Bharat: BJP inches closer to its goal

First published: 19 May 2016, 9:48 IST
 
Panini Anand @paninianand

Senior Assistant Editor at Catch, Panini is a poet, singer, cook, painter, commentator, traveller and photographer who has worked as reporter, producer and editor for organizations including BBC, Outlook and Rajya Sabha TV. An IIMC-New Delhi alumni who comes from Rae Bareli of UP, Panini is fond of the Ghats of Varanasi, Hindustani classical music, Awadhi biryani, Bob Marley and Pink Floyd, political talks and heritage walks. He has closely observed the mainstream national political parties, the Hindi belt politics along with many mass movements and campaigns in last two decades. He has experimented with many mass mediums: theatre, street plays and slum-based tabloids, wallpapers to online, TV, radio, photography and print.

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