The Bold Voice of J&K

No Modi magic wand for electoral victories

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 Kalyani Shankar

The election season is picking up with four politically important states going to the polls in the next couple of months. These are the first major elections since the Lok Sabha poll where the BJP-led NDA was voted to power with a thumping majority. It is important for the BJP to maintain its winning streak.
But the by-election results in different States including Bihar, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Gujarat have come as a jolt for the party. The BJP was routed in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan and ceded ground in Bihar and Prime Minister Modi’s home State of Gujarat. The only consolation for the party was that it could open its account in West Bengal.
So, why is the BJP is on back foot so soon? While the party claimed that the by-polls reflected local issues, some believe that the BJP has come to depend on the Modi magic a little too much. It had also  become complacent and arrogant.
Of the four States, which are going to have Assembly elections, Maharashtra is the most crucial for the BJP. The Shiv Sena-BJP combine is poised to wrest power from the ruling Congress-NCP coalition. The Congress lacks a charismatic leader and is facing its worst anti-incumbency wave. There is also a fatigue factor emerging in Maharashtra, given that the Congress-NCP combination has ruled for 15 years now. Poll surveys show good prospects for the Shiv Sena-BJP combine.
Riding on the Modi wave during the Lok Sabha election, the Shiv Sena-BJP combine won 42 of the 48 seats Lok Sabha seats in the State – its biggest ever victory in Maharashtra. The BJP has emerged as the number one party in the State with a 27 per cent vote-share. There are 19 Assembly segments in which the BJP has never won and 100 constituencies where the party has won at least once.
The squabble between the alliance partners is for the Chief Minister’s post and over seat-sharing issues. While the BJP does not have any charismatic leader, Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray has already thrown his hat in the ring. The BJP realises that with his cousin and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena Chief Raj Thackeray having cut into a big chunk of votes, it has to depend heavily on the Shiv Sena. After the set-back in the by-election, the BJP is weaker on the seat-sharing bargain.
In Haryana, the Congress is bidding for power for the third time. Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda is facing not only a strong anti-incumbency sentiment but dissent from within the party. There are some within the Congress who wish to sabotage his chances.  Here, the BJP has an advantage as it had emerged as the number one party with a 34 per cent vote-share during the Lok Sabha election when it won seven of the 10 seats.
The BJP was leading in 52 of 90 Assembly constituencies while Om Prakash Chautala’s Indian National Lok Dal, which won two Lok Sabha seats, was leading in 16 segment. The Congress, which won only one seat in Rohtak lead in 15 Assembly constituencies. The Haryana Janhit Congress, in alliance with the BJP, failed to open its account in the Lok Sabha election but had the lead in seven Assembly segments. The BJP is keeping a window open for an alliance with the INLD.
But the BJP does not have any credible Chief Ministerial candidate in Haryana. Once again, it is depending on Modi magic, as it cannot count on leaders like Rao Inderjit Singh or Chaudhary Birendra Singh, who were with the Congress till recently.
Jharkhand is another State where the BJP has high stakes. The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha-Congress combine is ruling, but during the Lok Sabha poll, the BJP won 12 of the 14 Lok seats and surged forward with a 40 per cent vote share. The Congress did not get a single seat while the JMM bagged two. The BJP has kept an open-door policy for leaders from other parties.
The party is also keen to capture Jammu and Kashmir. It is on Mission 44+. It won three of the Lok Sabha six seats and 32 per cent of the votes, while the NC-Congress combine was wiped out. Since then, the two have parted ways. The PDP got the other three seats and has good chances of improving its performance.

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