The elections in five states beginning on November 12, 2018 and Results on December 11, 2018, are been widely tipped as the semi- final before the 2019 General Elections. And expectedly so, as states which goes to the polls – Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh , Telangana and Mizoram will have repercussions in the national level after the results are out.
The battle lines have been drawn. It has been a bitter slug fest between the ruling BJP and the Congress on host of issues. It has also been a no- holds barred one. Both hitting out at each other . The BJP hitting out at the Congress with the repeated ‘One family Jibe’ and series of scams under UPA regime . The Congress hitting back by raising the Rafale Jet deal, the damage to the institutions ( read CBI and pressure on RBI), Nirav Modi, Vijay Mallya fleeing under their watch among others. In a way both are trying to outsmart each other with charges and counter charges.
For the BJP which aims to return to power in 2019 with its view of a TINA to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the results are crucial . Crucial in the sense because the states which are going to the polls barring Mizoram and Telangana are BJP ruled states. It has been in power for 15 years in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh under Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Raman Singh respectively. And under Vasundhara Raje in Rajasthan. A loss in these hindi belt states would jolt their 2019 return bid or for the matter make it hard.
BJP is fearing anti- incumbency in the states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh . And reports suggest polls in these states could go down to the wire. BJP is facing stiff challenge this time around . In Rajasthan, Vasundhara Raje is facing a stiff challenge from the young Sachin Pilot led Congress party. Sachin’s clean image could tilt the scales in Congress’s favour this time.
MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan would be hoping that the in- fighting or rather the lack of synergy between the Congress leaders – state party chief Kamal Nath, Jyotiraditya Scindia and Digvijaya Singh to scrap through this time around. That Chouhan had dropped many MLA’s and even ministers for fresh faces means their is some jittery in the BJP camp.
Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh, faces not only the Congress but an alliance that has the potential to upset his plans – the tie- up between Ajit Jogi’s JCC and Mayawati’s BSP.
Though there is nervousness in the BJP. But as often it had been seen since the famous 2014 General Election, BJP had defied the odds to romp home. And this they could do thanks to the high octane , aggressive and game changing campaigns by its master crowd puller and star campaigner – Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Will The Modi magic weave its magic in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh it remains to be seen.
BJP was staring defeat in the Gujarat polls in 2017 but it was the Prime Minister’s rallies towards the end that titled the scales in their favour. But it was not the case in Karnataka 2018, where the BJP could not stop the Congress – JD ( S) from outsmarting them in government formation by forming an unlikely alliance many did not assume before the polls.
The two other states that goes to the polls – Telangana and Mizoram to hold importance their own way.
It will be the first assembly polls for Telangana after it split from Andhra Pradesh in 2014. CM K Chandrashekhar Rao had dissolved the assembly on September 2018 and is gambling on early polls to return to power. Will the gamble pay- off? . The TRS as recent reports suggest will not find a return as cake- walk as the TDP – Congress – CPI alliance will give him headache. In Mizoram, the ruling Congress which won 34 out of 40 seats in the last assembly polls in 2013 would be hoping to retain power. BJP on the other hand would be aiming to make another mark in the North- East after its success in states like Assam, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur.
Coming back to the big three – Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. These results have lot at stake for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi. A good BJP showing would mean endorsement of the Centre’s policies and the popularity of the Prime Minister. Whereas, as loss could mean ‘No Modi wave’ and criticism of the government would only mount with the government’s inept handling of the economy – fuel prices, fall of rupee against the dollar, the crisis in the CBI, the friction with the RBI, Rafale deal ,the Ram Mandir imbroglio and the demand or the matter pressure for an ordinance, among others. It would mean a tough winter session of parliament.
And a come- back in 2019 would be a tricky and who knows given the mind of the Indian voter which is really unpredictable. It will be catastrophe for the BJP if Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not get a second term despite his huge personal popularity ratings and mega blitz promotions by the party to highlight their feats – GST, Demonetisation, Surgical strike, honouring Sardar Patel with a gigantic statue and consistently driving home the narrative of how the nation is on the path of progress only after 2014 and past governments referred in utter disdain . The slogans of Acche Din and Sab Ka Saath Sab Ka Vikas had remained on the lips only but hardly visible on the ground.
For the Congress and party president Rahul Gandhi, a win in the Hindi belt states would go a long way in rejuvenating the party and the cadres. It would be shot in the arm for the General Elections in 2019. The so called Mahagathbandhan would be strengthened if Congress fares well. It has improve from its current abysmal tally of 49 to have say in the next government.
For the Congress , a minimum of 100 plus or near 150 seats is absolutely necessary for the party as it bids to oust the BJP with other allies. Without these much seats in their kitty Congress runs the risk of being marginalised by regional parties and could be forced to support another front to keep the BJP out. Damaging itself in the long run by playing second fiddle. Rahul Gandhi’s presidency could be under severe scrutiny. This scenario if it happens then the party could well face and existential crisis in the political scene. So for Congress 2019 is make or break one.
TDP supremo and N Chandrababu Naidu is trying hard to bring all opposition leaders to take on the BJP . So it is all likely Modi vs The Rest. BJP has often said that it faces has no threat from the Mahagathbandhan.
As of now BJP is harping on the fact that there is no leader in sight to counter Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Going by cricket axiom, In Indian cricket there is a Rishabh Pant who has emerged as successor to the great Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the opposition parties are yet to zero in on a face who would take on Modi in 2019. In today’s politics face matters. Modi has pulled it off once can he do against the combined opposition? It remains to be seen.