With the General Election due to begin within three months to choose a new Lok Sabha and a new government within four months, is the BJP losing ground in a number of States? Is it trying hard to woo the voters, but not quite succeeding, though hoping to re-ignite the magic of the year 2014 when it came to power? Has that euphoria vanished and have its prospects diminished? Has the BJP failed on economic and political parameters and is it conscious of the fact that winning a second election in a row is difficult?
Is there a regional party of consequence except JDU, which is openly supporting the BJP for the next General Election in the summer of this year? Is there any party in India which supports the idea of a communal divide in India, except BJP hotheads like the Chief Minister of U.P., self-styled Yogi Aditya Nath? Are BJP or RSS’s own people talking to preach disunity among people in the country? Is the BJP rapidly losing partners in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)?
The BJP won 31 per cent of the votes in the 2014 General Elections and regional parties won close to 50 per cent of the overall vote all over the country. Without any alliance with any party in the country, will the BJP’s overall vote drop? Could even four or five per cent loss of votes be disastrous? The BJP badly needs alliances, but are they visible or available?
The parties contesting the last General Election were far from united and their main agenda was to do the best for themselves. This gave the BJP an enormous advantage. The Congress faced the factor of anti-incumbency and lost the elections badly, being reduced from 206 seats in the Lok Sabha to less than 50 and could not even qualify to be the formal Opposition party. The Congress and all other parties have learnt their lessons and have started coming together to present a united challenge to the BJP, which was able to win coalition partners to cement its position. That narrative has completely changed.
In Uttar Pradesh especially, the then ruling party, Samajwadi Party, was a house divided and Mulayam Singh Yadav, a former Chief Minister, supported the BJP secretly and openly against his own son’s government to help BJP win 70 plus 2 seats out of 80 in the Lok Sabha, just to ruin the prospects of Ms. Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party. This time round, the two arch rivals, SP and BSP, have joined hands. In a number of other States, the Congress has won over a number of Opposition parties.
In Tamil Nadu, the DMK has come out openly in support of the Congress and even proposed that Rahul Gandhi should be the next Prime Minister, but the Congress President is not himself taking on the idea. The Telugu Desam left the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance long ago and the Telengana Chief Minister, Mr. K. Chandrasekhar Rao, won a landslide victory in the State Assembly without alliance with the BJP last month. He might have made a courtesy call on the Prime Minister, but could he be expected to hedge his bets with the BJP in the General Election? The Assam ruling party has deserted what it considers the sinking BJP ship after the Citizenship Amendment Bill. Other States in the North-East are likely to follow suit as they would like to protect their regional and local interests.
With regional parties deserting the BJP bandwagon and even Shiv Sena and Akali Dal are thinking of going alone this coming summer in Maharashtra, Punjab and Haryana, what are the prospects of the BJP? The Janata Dal United led by Mr. Nitish Kumar might have agreed to share 32 Lok Sabha seats in Bihar equally with the BJP for the present.
The defeat of the BJP in the December elections to the three State Assemblies of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh was primarily because Aditya Nath talked aggressively in his 74 election rallies in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh about cow protection and vigilantes attacking buyers of cows, he tried to rouse communal and caste tensions in these three States. He is continuing with his hate campaigns and communal and caste divide in U.P. even today by trying to exacerbate tensions in the administration of the State and even the police force.
He has posted Thakur caste people as heads of district administration and police forces from his Thakur caste because his own name is Thakur Ajay Singh Bist. He is alleged to be changing the independent mind set of officials and even politicians. Is the Prime Minister aware that this could do the greatest damage to his party in U.P. where BJP won 70 seats to the Lok Sabha in 2014.
The farmers’ distress continues and jobs have been lost since demonetization on November 8, 2016, hurting cash transactions in a country where digital transactions are not a general practice, there have been wage losses. Businesses and small industries have been hurt and shut down, nor have they been revived in two years.
Lalit Sethi is a Journalist of long standing and a commentator on Political and Social Issues.