New Delhi, Dec 12 (IECurrentAffairs) Hours after a decisive mandate voted out BJP out of power in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh and things seemed tough even in Madhya Pradesh, the saffron party strategists and poll managers suggest that there would be “clear differences” on how people vote in Assembly polls and how they would do so in battle for Lok Sabha.
“There was no referendum on the Modi government. In fact, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign saved the day for BJP as the party could put up a much better show than it would have been otherwise without that,” a key leader said.
Most party spokespersons in last 12 hours or so are struggling to build up a strong narrative that local issues and local candidates come into play during Assembly elections while during Parliamentary polls, the entire perspective gets changed.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in his characteristic style complimented the newly-elected MLAs in various states for their win trying to underscore the point.
BJP spokesman Nalin Kohli said there was no link between the state polls and the coming big battle in 2019. So did P Murlidhar Rao, also a confidant of BJP national president Amit Shah.
In his post-poll analysis, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who has handled several polls in the past, said: “In Madhya Pradesh, the final jury is still out. We will wait for the last vote to be counted. We did not anticipate the Chhattisgarh gap will be so large”.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh tendered his resignation on Tuesday as the results showed BJP’s vote share made a severe nosedive and the party’s tally too came down to modest 16 as against 68 of Congress in the 90-member Assembly. Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje also quit showing respect to the people’s mandate.
A section of party leaders have privately suggested that as the core group led by Prime Minister himself will have to go back to brainstorming sessions for a stocktaking, it has become obvious that things should get “more decentralised and democratised” both in the BJP and in the NDA.
“Senior party leaders would have to be consulted more and the allies ought to be given their due share of credit and also respect and dignity,” a senior leader said.
These views were endorsed by JD(U) leader Pavan Varma: “It is not to be expected of allies that they will automatically endorse the views of the largest party on every issue”.
At the same time, he, however, said, the partners must also hold respect for the largest party. “As we move to 2019, while the opposition seems to be in complete disarray in terms of organisational strategy with micro detailing on the ground, within the NDA, there is also a need to see that all those who are with it and part of the coalition remain there because they feel that their voice can be heard in a democratic framework,” Mr Varma said.
Some BJP leaders like Sudanshu Trivedi seemed to appreciate the spirit of the argument put forward by the JD(U) leader.
Mr Trivedi also said the BJP has respected allies and has ability to keep parties like Shiv Sena and Akali Dal with it for decades now.
In fact, even JD(U) despite a two-year “bitter gap” has also stuck to the BJP since mid 1990s.
BJP’s own drawing room analysts agree about the “rural distress” and the issues of unemployment were key factors in the just-concluded Assembly polls.
“There is also an underlining message that the middle class, which has hailed Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a hero should not be taken for granted. The need to address farmers’ issues is another challenge,” they say.
The refrain, however, remained and not without good reason that PM Modi has been “personally popular” but some of his policies did not have the people’s endorsement.
A closer look also suggests the agrarian anguish was well reflected in the mandate as Congress made deep penetration in Malwa-Nimar region of Madhya Pradesh where the grand old party was nearly decimated in 2013.
“Similarly, in 2013, BJP had done well in 16 Assembly segments in Hadoti region of Rajasthan but lost seven seats this year,” says a source.
The big townships in the region are Baran and Kota and covers Bundi, Baran, Jhalawar and Kota districts.
Sources also point out that despite the GST, in Gujarat assembly polls too in 2017, the saffron party suffered severe setbacks in rural hubs and in pockets which had turned out to be epicentres of farmers’ distress.
A senior BJP leader, who was involved in the campaign strategy in Madhya Pradesh, also said that the verdict reflects quite clearly that the Congress promise of farm loan waiver and improving the minimum support price fetched it dividends and helped the grand old party get back its rhythm in the Hindi heartland.