The poll bugle has been sounded for the Lok Sabha elections with a wave of political realignments and new alliances across the country.
The coming together of longtime foes Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party has threatened to derail BJP’s poll arithemtic, and Mamata Banerjee hosting the massive rally of Opposition parties in Kolkata showcased the might of the anti-Modi bloc.
Even as all eyes will be fixed on 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh, the performance of the saffron party in states like Rajasthan (25 seats) and Madhya Pradesh(29 seats) will be crucial for its fortunes. During the last Lok Sabha elections in 2014, while BJP had won 73 seats from Uttar Pradesh, it won all in Rajasthan and in Madhya Pradesh.
These states, besides Gujarat, were swept by the BJP, consolidating BJP’s tally at an unprecedented 272. Things have changed since then. While BJP is in power now in UP under the chief ministership of Yogi Adityanath, the saffron party is out of power in Rajasthan and MP, with Congress forming the government last year.
Having lost power in the state, the BJP faces an uphill task of getting the high number of seats it did in the 2014 general elections. And the indications aren;t good. In the Lok Sabha byelection held in January last year, the saffron party lost both Alwar and Ajmer seats to Congress. Now, with Congress in power in the state, it is a cause of concern for BJP.
In Rajasthan Assembly Elections, Congress got 99 seats, while the BJP got 73. The former, after falling short of a majority by a whisker got support from 9 independent MLAs, 6 BSP MLAs, 1 RLD and 2 Bharatiya Tribal Party (BTL) to form the government.
The worry for the BJP also lies in Madhya Pradesh, where the there are 29 Lok Sabha seats. While the saffron party currently has 24 MPs from the state, the Lok Sabha polls could be a different ball game altogether. Battling anti-incumbency and farmer distress, the recent loss in the assembly election could dampen their popularity further.
The Congress with just 2 Lok Sabha seats faces an uphill task but have managed to form the government. This, many feel, could end the pessimism surrounding the grand old party and brighten its prospects.
A number of issues like lynching and farmers anger against the BJP when it was in power may help the BJP. In Rajasthan, the vote share between Congress and BJP the last Assembly poll was equal 39.29 percent. Vote share for BJP had dropped since 2013 state polls when it had 46.79 percebt against Congress’34.27 percent.
Last month’s Madhya Pradesh election again saw both congress and BJP getting equal vote shares with 41 percent. In 2013, the BJP polled 44.96 vote share while Congress earned 36.4 percent.
So, while BJP may still look strong on paper for the upcoming general elections, the party should not take victory for granted. As they say, there is many a slip between the cup and the lip.