Polls takeaway: Congress shrinking, BJP expanding; Modi to face challenge from regional parties

New Delhi: Touted as India’s mini-general elections of 2016, the Assembly election results in West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry has provided a pathway to the bigger game in 2019. As more than a century-and-a-half year old Indian National Congress is shrinking, the Bharatiya Janata Party is expanding its base.

It was during the election campaigns in 2014 that Narendra Modi had voiced fulfilment of a Congress-mukt Bharat. The saffron party has reached halfway in delivering the prime minister’s poll promise, however, the rising clout from regional parties have posed an all-new challenge for the BJP.

The landslide victory of Mamata Banerjee led Trinamool Congress in West Bengal, the LDF in Kerala and Jayalalitha in Tamil Nadu only stresses towards the growing dominance of the regional parties, not the Congress — the party failed to fathom the significance of local strong leaders; their reliance was heavy on the dynasty which costed them big.  

If one sits back patiently and analyze the elections closely, it would become apparent that the BJP has performed well in states where their major rival is Congress.

Take Assam for example. Learning bitter lesson from their Delhi and Bihar fiasco, the BJP alliance didn’t go for the usual Modi charisma; they projected local leader Sarbananda Sonowal as Chief Minister. The conditions in Assam were tailor-made for any credible opposition to the Congress, since it failed to check the immigrants from the East. The saffron party focussed on immigration as the single-biggest issue of the election and forged alliances tactfully so as not to disintegrate the majority votes.

However, the saffron party has by far succumbed to a challenge against the regional parties. Before losing out West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the BJP had faced humiliating defeats in Delhi and Bihar.

Well, the second phase of the battle between an expanding BJP and the regional parties will be seen in 2017 elections, where Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and SP-BSP would test the raging theory to the core.

If the theory turns out to be true, a combination of Left and regional parties would pull over a greater national challenge to BJP in 2019 than Congress. Bihar has always been a game changer and the originating place for a revolution. Could an anti-Modi front spearheaded by Nitish Kumar turn things around in 2019?

He might, but BJP’s growth can’t be ignored as well. The party is sailing on new horizons — a significant win in Assam, and considerable vote share in Kerala and West Bengal can give it a huge boost in further elections to come.

A subtle way to finish two years of governance!

By: Mayank Mohanti