The 3 states of Hindi heartland Chhattisgarh, MP and Rajasthan along with Telangana and Mizoram are in the process of electing new governments. These are mere assembly polls and in general should not have much impact on the national politics. But when these polls are looked at in the context of 2019 general election, it gets significance at the national level.
While analysing the impact of these elections on the national politics, I am not considering Telangana and Mizoram. In Telangana, KCR is running a popular government and with a very weak opposition, his return is certain, and so it will not bring any difference in the national politics. In Mizoram, whether the Congress wins or loses, it will not changes the mood in northeast.
In 2014, the BJP had won 62 out of 65 Lok Sabha seats from these 3 states. And more or less this was the trend in all states where the BJP was in a direct fight. It had almost swept north and west, which had given it the majority for the first time on its own. The results of the assembly polls will indicate the mood of electorate in the north and west regions, and will give a picture of how the politics will move from here.
For the BJP, Hinduism has been at the core of its policy, it has always presented itself as the only party that cares about Hindu culture and pride, which has actually helped it emerge in the national politics. From last couple of years the Congress has been trying hard to downgrade the BJP’s Hindutva policy by its leaders presenting themselves as equally proud Hindu. It’s evident in the on-going polls and the results will as well tell if this strategy has worked for the Congress and whether it will continue to work on this strategy.
So what will be impact of all possible results of these 3 elections at the national level in the context of 2019 polls.
BJP - 0, Cong - 3
A 3-0 win for the Congress will bring it back at the forefront of the opposition politics at the national level. Whatever small dissidence against Rahul is there will vanish, and he will establish himself as the leader who can lead the Congress back to its fortunes. its strategy of being super aggressive and not leaving anything whether it’s morally correct or not will prove to be working for it. In future, aggressive, personal attacks on Narendra Modi, the BJP and the RSS will sharpen. Thus, we will see more ruckus in Parliament and on streets. To counter the BJP, it will continue with its recently strategy to present its leaders as equally or more proud Hindu.
Third front efforts will not be taken as seriously as it is today, and in 2019 it will be more or less a direct fight between the BJP-led NDA and the Congress-led UPA. Mamta Banerjee, Chandra Babu and other leaders who are now at forefront of third front talks and has bigger aspirations in national politics will be disappointed. A few of the regional parties which doesn’t have a direct fight with the Congress or the BJP may rather want to join the respective alliances.
For the BJP such result will create jitters in the party. The Modi-Shah leadership, which is supreme in the BJP since 2014, and has complete backing of Nagpur will no more stay unquestionable. Thus, even for small mistakes they may be questioned within the party. Even some of the major decisions taken by the government previously which didn’t fare well may be questioned. The BJP, which at present looks very disciplined and standing firmly behind Modi-Shah, with such results it will not be the same. Quite a few leaders who feel sidelined or not getting the value which they expect, will not leave any opportunity to question the leadership. The party and the government both will have to be more inclusive in future decisions at the party level as well as at NDA level.
BJP -1, Cong - 2
Such result will balance out the 2019 contest between the NDA and the UPA, which till now looks more in favour of the NDA. For the Congress, which has been losing state after state in last few years, it will give the much-needed morale booster. It will be able to get some more allies and will be able to bargain well for seat sharing with its allies in states like UP and Bihar, where it is not so strong and depends on the allies partners. The party will become more Rahul centric, the new think-tank in the party will establish itself.
For the BJP, such result will weaken the Modi-Shah duo in the party. The inner-most power circle in the party will try hard to put the onus for defeat on the losing CMs and local leaderships to save the top leadership. But when the 2 top leaders have been getting credit for all wins, they will not be able to escape from the responsibility for this crucial loss. The satrap who will retain his state for the party, will grow manifolds in the party and will have higher stature and say in the party. The allies may become more aggressive in seat-sharing and will try to dictate their terms. Third front efforts will continue, and over time it will get formed, but it will not be as effective as it seems today. Some regional parties like the DMK, which is considering to join the third front, may rather join the Congress. Such result will as well suit to those parties who want to wait and watch till election and join the winning side. In case none of the 3 alliances gets the number, there can be some crossovers from one alliance to another.
BJP - 2, Cong -1
A 2-1 win for the BJP will ensure the current status quo continues in the national politics. The equations in the BJP, in the Congress and in the alliances in context of the national politics will remain more or less same as of today. The efforts for third front will continue and it will be formed over time. All regional parties will join one of the 3 fronts before the general election. Closer to election there may be some understanding between the UPA and the third front behind the scenes to counter the BJP. Regional leaders with prime ministerial aspirations will continue to aspire so, and will work to build equations and strategies to stay ahead in a favourable post-poll scenario when none of the alliances gets clear majority of its own.
BJP - 3, Cong - 0
A 3-0 win for the BJP will put stamp on Modi-Shah supremacy in the party. It will reenergise the party cadre and supporters for 2019. Position of the BJP in the NDA will strengthen. Some NDA partners who are up in arms against the BJP will probably lower their tone. The BJP will be able to deal well with allies for seat-sharing for 2019 elections. Some new parties will join the NDA, which will contribute to a good number to the NDA tally in 2019.
The Congress will be at all-time low confidence, the leadership and the present strategy will be questioned. There may be some opinion that Rahul should make way for someone else who can sail through the tough time and can save the party. Some may even suggest to bring Priyanka ahead in the party and give her bigger responsibility for 2019. Sonia Gandhi will have to again get involved in daily activities of the party. It will be difficult for the Congress to bargain good number of seats in the states where the UPA partners are strong and the Congress is comparatively weak.
For third front this will be the most favourable scenario. A strong BJP with some anti-incumbency and an all-time weak Congress which won’t be able to put fight to the BJP. There will be enough space in the opposition politics for formation of a third front, which could very well present itself as an alternative to the NDA.