BYPOLLS SETBACK TO BJP: THE FLAVOUR OF THE POLITICAL BUZZ

It is the season of assembly elections. Maharashtra and Haryana elections are due in October and Jharkhand and Jammu & Kashmir should be held by the end of this year and so, the flavour of the talk of the season are the results of the bye-elections held in the assembly constituencies.

And the results pinching the winning party of the Lok Sabha elections have added spice to the flavour of the political buzz and debates with an amplified crescendo. Anyway, the outcomes of the Lok Sabha bye-elections were on the expected lines and so there was not much to talk about.

The pointing point while writing this is, the BJP is feeling the heat, after a great reversal in its electoral fortunes in most of the assembly constituencies where elections were held.

And from the viewpoint of the political communication machinery, such ‘buzz-worthy’ outcomes, when the bigger assembly elections are just around the corner, are frustrating for the party-workers, but are the moral-boosters for the political opponents, and can become big enough a factor if played well on the electoral sentiments focusing on the impulsive reactions of the voter.

And that should worry the BJP strategists, even if they don’t admit it publicly.

BJP’s national president Amit Shah today advised his party workers to not get demoralized with the bye-election results yesterday (or to say, in the past that is being counted after May 16, 2014 when the Lok Sabha election results were announced), the past that includes bye-election defeats in the July 21 bypolls in Uttarakhand (3 assembly constituencies-ACs) and in the August 21 bypolls in Bihar (10 ACs), Madhya Pradesh (3 ACs), Karnataka (3 ACs) and Punjab (2 ACs).

The BJP could not win any seat in Uttarakhand. The results of the August 21 bye-elections, held for 18 assembly constituencies spread across Bihar Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab were an unacceptable 8-18 for the BJP. And here, the BJP lost its face in Bihar.

In the September 13 bye-elections, the results of which were declared yesterday (except Antagarh in Chhattisgarh where the counting will be held on September 20), the BJP and its allies had 25 out of the 32 assembly constituencies for which the counting was held today. The BJP alone had 24 of the 33 seats including Antagarh.

But it could win just 12 of 32. With allies, the total was 13, with TDP’s Nandigama win in Andhra Pradesh.

The BJP had all of 11 seats (one with ally Apna Dal) in Uttar Pradesh where the bye-elections were held. It registered an impressive performance in all these assembly segments in the May 2014 Lok Sabha elections and was winner in 10.

But in the September 13 bye-elections, it lost 8. More importantly, the loss includes Uma Bharti’s constituency Charkhari that she vacated after winning the Jhansi Lok Sabha seat, and Rohaniya in Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency. The seat was held by Apna Dal. Interestingly, Modi had got around 1.20 Lakh votes from this assembly segment in the Lok Sabha election.

In Gujarat, Modi’s home state and his comfortable political turf since 2000, though the BJP won 6 out of 9 constituencies, in fact, the BJP lost 3 seats to Congress as these 9 seats were won by the party in 2012 assembly elections as well as in 2014 Parliamentary Elections.

In Rajasthan, the party lost 3 of the 4 seats. BJP had won all 4 seats in the previous polls.

And the BJP had performed exceedingly well in these states just four months ago.

Overall, the BJP and its allies went down from 25-7 out of 32 to 13-19 yesterday, after the 8-18 tally in August bye-elections, within four months of an unprecedented victory and overwhelming support to the Modi Factor.

It is another warning call, especially before the upcoming assembly polls in Maharashtra and Haryana the next month.

The loss is huge, symbolically and electorally. The victory on a seat in West Bengal and on one in Assam, state assemblies where it opened its accounts independently for the first time, are not going to be of much help except being the consolation prizes.

These are unsettling developments and the BJP strategists need to act like they are really worried. Amit Shah’s advice could have emerged from such a thinking over it. But mere advising will not help, given the factors that led to the BJP this debacle in just four months after an unprecedented, almost miraculous victory. The factors include the ‘pride’ of a big win and the subsequent big brother attitude and the resultant tension with allies, complacency, excessive dependence on the Modi Factor even if the elections are to be fought along the local fault-lines, infighting and the lack of focus on the context of the elections.

These are high talking points and have the potential to generate the buzz in a matter of days that could effectively dent the chances. And it has begun, the bye-elections results show it, even if it has nothing to do with Narendra Modi, his government and the Modi Factor.

And if left to continue, it will ultimately dampen the Modi Factor and will dent his political legacy that has just begun to take shape at the national level.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

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