Verdict 2017 and target 2019

The much-awaited results of the assembly elections were announced on Saturday. Defying even the best expectations the BJP with allies won UP with a landslide of 325 out of 403 and Uttarakhand with a landslide of 57 out of 70. As was widely expected Punjab went to Congress. There were people who had thought it will be a neck to neck race between AAP and Congress and SAD-BJP alliance will not even cross the double-digit mark. Even many BJP “Bhakts” had conceded defeat there. However, AAP just won 20 seats much less than the 77 of the Congress.

After having 0 seats in 2012 BJP opened its account in Manipur with 21 seats. It was a hung assembly as no party had the majority mark of 31 with Congress at 28. But BJP got together with smaller parties, who were NDA allies at center and in North East Development Alliance (NEDA) and have staked claim to form the govt.

Goa also had a hung assembly. AAP also contested the state but people rejected them thoroughly and gave them ‘0’ seat. BJP has got support from smaller parties and has also staked claim in Goa.

Overall it looks like a 4-1 verdict in favour of the BJP. The BJP is now likely to have a govt in 16 states directly or in alliance. Congress is now reduced to only 6 states- Punjab, Himanchal, Bihar (as junior partner in Nitish Lalu alliance), Karnataka, Meghalaya and Mizoram.

This election was being billed as the semifinal to 2019 and it was extremely closely watched. These elections have big implications for all political parties as well as other players. Let’s look at some factors which will help in determining 2019 general elections keeping in mind the verdict today.

1 BJP: Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have taken the bull by the horns. Modi did a great gamble with demonetization and the people supported him for the same. He has constantly worked on “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas” demonetization, surgical strikes, action on black money, development politics is going to be the winning formula.

Amit Shah has also proved that there is no person better than him in the organizational capabilities. The candidate selection, the booth level management, the coordination with RSS- all prove that he is a master strategist- a real Chanakya.

BJP must continue doing this work and 2019 should be in the bag.

2. Congress: The Congress got the consolidation prize in this election in form of Punjab. But the drubbing in UP and Uttarakhand should worry them. They could not even find 400 people to fight in UP after declaring Shiela Dixit as the CM face. They had to settle to being a junior partner to SP. This was the similar case with Bihar earlier.

I think Congress leaders know internally that Rahul Gandhi is a big failure. Punjab was won because of the hard work of Captain Amrinder Singh though a lot of sycophants will try to give credit to Rahul Gandhi.  The problem is that there is no one to replace him. Priyanka Gandhi dare not step out from Amethi and Rae Bareilly. Other than the Nehru Gandhi family no one can lead Congress. It is a sad state of affairs not only for Congress but for the nation too because a national party in opposition is required. Even hard core BJP people accept this. That is why even BJP were praying for a Congress victory as opposed to AAP in Punjab. Another reason is that we believe Rahul Gandhi is the star campaigner for the BJP.

3. SP: The Samajwadi Party had rocked with a big Pari-War between Akhilesh & Mulayam/Shivpal Yadav. Just before the elections it was said that Akhilesh won a “fixed” fight. But now it seems Akhilesh will lose any power he was supposed to get within the party and it will again revert back to “Mullah Mulayam”. This is kind of sad because here was a person in SP who at least had tried to do some development works howsoever screwed in favour of his core vote bank (Muslims and Yadavs). In 2019 SP will revert again to Muslim Yadav caste combinations and polarization hoping to win back some seats. Remember in 2014 only Yadav family members won seats in their family boroughs.

This election will also mark an end to short livid experiment of SP Congress alliance as SP will know that Congress does not bring anything to the table but just pulls the alliance down.

Just after the Exit Polls there was a talk of a Bua, Bhatija alliance with BSP and SP. This was a desperate throw in case of a hung verdict. I believe that this result has killed that idea at its inception and 2019 SP will fight on its own to get whatever vote share they can.

4. BSP: The Bahujan Samaj Party is last placed in these elections. BSP lost the 2012 elections and could not win even a single seat in 2014. This time Mayawati tried a Dalit Muslim combo by giving 100+ tickets to Muslims but this trick has also failed spectacularly. She said in a press conference that the EVMs were tampered with and hence BJP sweeped. This is a last desperate throw with no results. It is obvious that she has lost the plot and will be a spent force in 2019. She will put a brave face in 2019 but I don’t see her winning anything substantial.

5. AAP: The Aam Aadmi Party was supposed to be a game changer in this election. After their surprise win in Delhi they tried to expand their footprint outside but this experiment has failed. The same was tried by them in 2014 where they fought across the country and came back cropper. The issue is that the people have seen through the “Nautanki” of Arvind Kejriwal. He has spent more time in drama than governance. He had daily fights with the LG and attacks on Modi, calling him “Coward and Psychopath”, that exposed the hollow claims of “Good Clean Governance”. The people have shown him the place.

Before 2017 there was a talk that AAP could be an alternate to BJP in place of the congress. These elections have shown that this is not the case.  AAP will no doubt contest many seats in 2019 but it will be wise to consider it as a regional party and not a national one. The over emphasis of AAP in the media belies its stature.

6. Other Regional Parties: The other regional parties will also be looking at these results carefully. It will be clear to them that BJP is in a strong position to come back in power in 2019 in Lok Sabha as well as in their states. They will feel that the only way to stop the BJP is to form a Bihar like Mahagathbandhan. However, the issue in this is that this will mean allying with their sworn enemies. Allying with the Congress pulls down their value and loses them seats. The 3rd front experiment may again be repeated in 2019 but it has failed many times. There are too many big leaders with big egos to have this as a success. Some regional parties may also be thinking, “If you can’t beat them, join them”. They may look to ally with BJP in 2019 to at least get a shot at power.

7. The Media: That the English language “Liberal” media is against the BJP is very well known. They have put various narratives like demonetization will hurt the BJP. Muslims don’t vote for BJP, people vote on caste lines etc. The tactical vote of Muslims to defeat the BJP is perhaps the biggest narrative which plays out on all channels before the elections, specially in UP which has a substantial number of Muslims.

This myth has been busted previously also but keeps on surfacing. Muslims had supported BJP even in 2014. Winning 73 out of 80 and 325 out of 403 is not possible with only upper caste support. Dalits and Muslims have also supported BJP though the liberal media will not accept that. The era of caste politics in UP is out and development is in. What happened to the so called “Dalit-Muslim” combination of BSP or the “Yadav-Muslim” of the SP? All sections of the society have aspiration and they support development. It is high time the media removes its biased glasses and looks at the trend objectively.

8. Liberal Intelligentsia: The last important factor I want to talk about is the “Liberal” Intelligentsia. These people went to town shouting demonetization is bad for the economy, nationalism and patriotism is bad and is being trust down the throats of the people. The Harvard economists criticized the economic model and said that it would lead to collapse of the economy. Nothing of the sort has happened. Elections after elections the people have supported the move. Even their move to bring controversy using Gurmehar Kaur and Nationalism has back fired.

It is now a clear pattern that just before the elections some or the other issue is raised- Intolerance, Ghar Wapasi, Akhlaq, Free Speech. These are used to try to bring down the BJP but it is failing because the people are now seeing through this and voting for the development model

In the end, I will conclude that these election results are going to propel the BJP towards a massive victory in 2019. Demonetisation, Nationalism, Development, fight against corruption and Black Money, Focus on Internal Security- these are the factors which are going to help BJP and Modi cross the halfway mark again in 2019.

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