By Nirendra Dev
New Delhi–It has been a see-saw ride for the BJP since it formed an alliance government at the centre two years ago but victory in the Assam polls has helped it wrest back the political momentum it lost after deffeats in Delhi and Bihar. The victory has also helped the BJP emerge as a party with a noticeable pan-India presence while also brightening its prospects for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
The BJP victories in several state elections after the 2014 Lok Sabha polls have helped build the perception that the Narendra Modi government continues to enjoy the support of the people in various regions. In the last two years, the party has been able to install its chief ministers in Haryana, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Assam. It also emerged as the second biggest party in Jammu and Kashmir, where it is part of the ruling coalition.
The BJP victories have also dealt a severe blow to Congress, which now has governments only in six states – with Karnataka being the only big state in its kitty. The party had won only 44 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections – to the BJP’s 282 in a 545-member house.
BJP leaders say that the victory in Assam will have an impact on national politics and help build its campaign for the crucial Uttar Pradesh assembly polls early next year.
“The Assam victory will have an immense impact on national politics. It has sparked off debate about surgery in Congress and has energised the BJP cadres for the Uttar Pradesh elections,” BJP MP Jagdambika Pal told IANS.
Uttar Pradesh sends 80 MPs to Lok Sabha and will be among five states where assembly polls will be held early next year.
Party leader Tapir Gao said the BJP would also be looking for victory in Manipur next year.
The party’s coming to power in Assam, its entry in Kerala assembly and being part of the ruling coalition in Jammu and Kashmir has made BJP a truly pan-India party. BJP has appears to have replaced Congress as the primary pillar of national polity.
BJP leaders say the party’s performance in the future polls is directly linked to the people’s perception about the Modi government’s performance.
“As a ruling party and a government, we may be doing far better job. But we need to do a lot in terms of the perception battle,” BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya said.
Neiphiu Rio, who is a Nagaland Peoples Front MP from Nagaland, said it was time to implement schemes as mere slogans will not help.
“I know about the intention of the Modi government. I know about the schemes for the northeast and poor people in general. But now it is time to implement, mere slogans won’t help,” Rio told IANS. The NPF supports the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.
Former Lok Sabha secretary general Subash C. Kashyap said that Modi has to deliver for his party.
“Prime Minister Modi does not have an excuse for failure. He will have to deliver both for himself and his party. The Modi government had come as a breath of fresh air,“ Kashyap said.
On the flip side, the BJP has had to tick off some of its own MPs for remarks that created controversies and sought to take away focus from governance. There also have been controversies created by fringe elements.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat’s remarks about quotas, which the organization subsequently clarified, are believed to have cost BJP dearly in the Bihar assembly polls. The party also suffered as its campaign was seen to be aggressive and it had no local leader as chief ministerial candidate.
In Delhi, the party projected a chief ministerial candidate days before the assembly polls and this boomeranged.
The successive defeats in Delhi and Bihar last year had cast a doubt in party circles over the electoral strategy of Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.
But Shah apparently learnt from party’s mistakes in Delhi and Bihar and took correctives in Assam.
As for parliament, With some key legislation such as the Goods and Services Tax pending, a BJP party MP said the party’s performance has been “lukewarm.”
“The crucial GST Bill still stands stalled (due to lack of majority in Rajya Sabha). The new land bill did not come through,” said the MP, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The party also faced allegations concerning its leaders Sushma Swaraj and Vasundhara Raje over their alleged help to former IPL chief Lalit Modi, who is being probed by the Enforcement Directorate. Arun Jaitley also faced allegations on the working of the Delhi and District Cricket Association and has filed a defamation case against Aam Aadmi Party leaders over the allegations. (IANS)