BJP keeps winning momentum, Modi-Shah team gets boost
By Prashant Sood
New Delhi, Oct 19 (IANS) The BJP’s victory in Haryana assembly polls and its strong performance in Maharashtra are likely to help the party carry the momentum of its Lok Sabha success, reinforce Narendra Modi’s credentials as a strong campaigner and give the party renewed confidence to expand its base in states where it is weak.
The party’s first-ever victory in Haryana and its emergence as the single-largest party in Maharashtra have come on the back of an aggressive campaign by Modi who addressed about 35 rallies in the two states.
In the vote-count Sunday, the BJP secured majority in the 90-member Haryana assembly and was hovering at leads/victories on around 120 seats in Maharashtra, thus emerging as the single-largest party but falling far short of the crucial figure of 145 in the 288-seat house.
The assembly poll results were crucial for BJP as these were the first major polls after the Lok Sabha elections and were being perceived as a vote on the performance of the five-month-old Narendra Modi government at the Centre. This was also the first round of assembly polls under party president Amit Shah, a confidant of Modi.
The party assiduously worked to live up to the challenge with Modi leading the campaign and Shah ensuring a wide grassroots connect and effective booth management, party leaders said.
The results have also vindicated the BJP’s move of going it alone in the two states though the party has put the onus of break-up in the alliance on its former partners.
The BJP achieved several feats with Sunday’s outcome. It pushed the Congress further into a corner by outclassing the party in states that have been its strongholds. The results have boosted the morale of the BJP workers. The party also appears to have recovered from some reverses it suffered in assembly by-elections over the past five months.
In Haryana, where the BJP had won a total of six seats in the last two assembly polls put together, the party established itself as a prime force.
In Maharashtra, the party established its credentials to be the senior partner in any future seat-sharing negotiations with the Shiv Sena, its former ally in the state. The party’s tally is more than its combined tally of the past two assembly elections.
In both Haryana and Maharashtra, the BJP’s vote share has gone up substantially.
The BJP had performed well in the two states in the Lok Sabha polls also, but had fought these elections in alliance.
The break in ties with Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and the Haryana Janhit Congress in Haryana came about just a few days before the polling day.
The momentum of Sunday’s results are expected to help the BJP in the forthcoming assembly polls in Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir. It will also raise Modi’s stature as a campaigner, boost his position within the party and outside and enhance his appeal as a pan-India leader.
The BJP is keen to expand its base in states such as Odisha, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala where it is weak and its electoral performance in the Oct 15 polls is expected to give a push to such efforts.
The electoral outcome is also likely to make BJP more assertive vis-a-vis its allies.
BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the party’s performance in the two states has been very good.
“The mood seems to be that there should be one party government. The results have broken several myths like BJP not being a force in Haryana and it having less support in Maharashtra,” Naqvi told IANS.
He also said that there was a big contribution of Narendra Modi in the party’s electoral performance due to his image as a leader keen on “development” and “good governance”.
“There was also impact of good governance of BJP-ruled states. The organisational skills and wisdom of party chief Amit Shah also contributed,” he said.
Political commentator and senior journalist S. Nihal Singh said the outcome in Haryana was “a triumph for BJP” though the results in Maharashtra were a little below expectations for BJP leaders.
“The results will consolidate Modi’s position. He worked hard as campaigner and single-handedly managed this kind of show. It will consolidate his hold on power,” Nihal Singh told IANS.
He also said that the results will strengthen Modi’s position while further pushing back the concept of collective leadership in the BJP.
“BJP is a party that prided in collective leadership. It is now a Modi party,” he said.
Nihal Singh added that the BJP will now seek to “aggressively expand” in states such as West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.
On alliances, he said the BJP was not likely to adopt a uniform formula and will adopt a specific electoral strategy for each state.