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OPINION | If 2019 Mirrors Assembly Election Results, BJP Risks Losing Up to 100 Seats in Lok Sabha

The electoral success of a potential ally in Telangana and prospects of increasing the NDA tally in the north east, West Bengal or Tamil Nadu can hardly account for a fourth of the probable shortfall.

Rasheed Kidwai | @rasheedkidwai

Updated:December 12, 2018, 3:29 PM IST
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OPINION | If 2019 Mirrors Assembly Election Results, BJP Risks Losing Up to 100 Seats in Lok Sabha
A look at how the party-wise map of India has changed after BJP’s loss in recent Assembly elections. (News18.com)

Suddenly the map of India looks different, opening a window of opportunity for the Congress and non-NDA opposition.

From Jammu and Kashmir to Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat, the entire Hindi heartland has 273 Lok Sabha seats. Out of this, the BJP and its allies have a whopping share of 226 seats.

If the verdict in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh is to be taken in account along with the likelihood of Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party coming together, there is a real possibility of the BJP losing anything from 80 to 100 Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The electoral success of a potential ally in Telangana and prospects of increasing the NDA tally in the north east, West Bengal or Tamil Nadu can hardly account for a fourth of the probable shortfall.

The Congress’ success in Chhattisgarh is most glaring and pronounced. Here was a state where the grand old party did not have a strong regional satrap. Perceived acceptability, popularity of a ‘chawal wale baba’, armed with a series of welfare schemes under his belt and the fight against Naxal violence made Raman Singh a clear winner. But voters felt otherwise and punished him severely. Imagine a scenario where voters in the rest of India vote as per Chhattisgarh model. Perhaps they will. But a note of caution is required for all those who believe in prime ministerial democracy or rely solely on a personality cult.

The outcome also has tremendous bearing on Rahul Gandhi and the Congress. At a time when the young Gandhi has completed his first year in office as the party president, electoral success in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh is an exceptional triumph. The BJP has been defeated when it’s the strongest, both in the terms of electoral successes and organisational network.

Rahul Gandhi, as a team leader, has to thank his two trusted lieutenants — Sachin Pilot and Kamal Nath in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, respectively. A whole volume is required to essay their grit and hard work. Both Pilot and Nath are legitimate claimants for the chief minister's post.

It must be remembered that Ashok Gehlot was recently appointed as AICC general secretary in-charge of the party organisation. The appointment is most important in the grand old party as its occupant is considered the most influential person after Gandhis. Gehlot has been given a task that would be put to the test in the general elections.

Kamal Nath, senior-most parliamentarian in the 16th Lok Sabha, worked like a professional from the word go since his appointment as Madhya Pradesh Congress president in May. Nath was quick to reach out to around 65 state government employee unions and various social, religious and economic groups. Some met him in the dead of the night at 9 Shyamla Hills, Bhopal as his residence shares a wall with outgoing Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's palatial 6, Shyamla Hill residence overlooking the serene bada talaab of Bhopal.

Kamal Nath fielded a Sindhi candidate from Bhopal's Huzur constituency, a first, resulting in the small community switching sides from the BJP to the Congress. A band of 500 dedicated personnel manned a parallel war room for social media outreach. This war room was in addition to the state Congress office, its election machinery and social media teams.

To counter the RSS volunteers, Nath zeroed in on angandwadi and Asha health workers. These teams, largely consisting of women volunteers, often travelled to neighbouring districts just to double check if Congress functionaries, candidates and others were doing their job properly. The feedback came regularly and course corrections were made. Some government employees unions said they would canvass for Nath if some transport was made available for them. Nath reportedly raised Rs 3-4 lakh.

In Madhya Pradesh, Rahul may opt for a head count among the newly elected members to pick the CM. A cursory look shows that the other chief ministerial aspirant, Jyotiraditya Scindia, does not have the support of 22+ MLAs.

A Congress victory has increased prospects of a Mahagathbandhan. Rahul Gandhi and Chandrababu Naidu’s attempts to have a state-wise Mahagathbandhan against Narendra Modi-led NDA may, however, see a negative effect now.

A good showing in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan has provided the Congress pole position within the Mahagathbandhan. In such a scenario, Mayawati-led BSP will be forced to play second fiddle to Rahul Gandhi, something the Dalit leader has been resisting strongly. The Congress success may possibly further alienating the BSP from Mahagathbandhan and pushing her in an anxious NDA stable.

A successful Mahagathbandhan against Modi requires the right equilibrium between a resurgent Congress and good showing by non-NDA regional satraps in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu etc. But ambitious anti-Modi players are unable to mix good chemistry and prudent arithmetic to edge out Modi regime in parliamentary polls.

(The author is visiting fellow at the Observer Research Foundation and a journalist. Views are personal)

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| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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