2019 Polls: Permutations and Combinations of the BJP Kind
One election one year
NEW DELHI: After the defeat in Karnataka, and now the bypolls from across the country where the BJP has been able to secure just a seat or two, the party brain has gone into a huddle with mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. And some permutations and combinations to secure the 2019 polls have started filtering out into the political corridors of Delhi.
A scenario being linked to the statement of the Election Commission that it might not be able to hold simultaneous elections to the Lok Sabha and all Assemblies as per the wish of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BUT it could hold one election a year. Thereby in that year elections to the state Assemblies and the Lok Sabha if it is due can all be clubbed together, with some being preponed by up to six months to ensure this.
The ‘strategy’ basically is being built around Prime Minister Narendra Modi who is the sole person in the BJP with the ability to still entice the masses. This has been visible throughout the state elections since 2014 when he swept into power, with even Karnataka voters turning up in huge numbers for his rallies across the state in the just concluded polls. Many voters claimed that they would vote for Modi in the Lok Sabha polls, even if not in the state.
This feedback, sources said, is being factored into the new strategy. A Modi versus the rest scenario where he will tackle the Lok Sabha polls as partly the messiah and partly the martyr being victimised by the united Opposition.
For instance a few weeks ago Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said very clearly that the Opposition had no alternative to PM Modi. And Modi himself stated in keeping with the emerging line that the Opposition was becoming more intense and violent against him. He said during an interaction with BJP leaders at the party’s 38th foundation day, “You would have seen that the opposition (to Modi government) is becoming more intense and angrier. It is being seen now that it is turning more violent as well. The reason is not that we have made any mistake. The only reason is that our rivals are unable to digest the BJP’s rising strength.”
It is thus imperative for the ‘goodwill’ towards the PM not to be frittered away, and instead encapsulated and consolidated in the forthcoming state elections runs the argument.
At least ten Assemblies for the year following November 2018 will go to the people. The term of three important states for the BJP where it is in power namely Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan ends this year with elections due before December 2018. The BJP is not sure about the results from these states where it is in direct confrontation with the Congress party that claims to have improved its position in MP and Rajasthan “most certainly”. The BJP is worried about the outcome, particularly after these bypolls that are being seen by the political class as a sort of ‘referendum’ on the party.
One of the options thus, that has been under discussion is for the Chief Ministers of MP Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan to resign ahead of the term enabling the centre to impose President's Rule. This then will give the BJP a six month window for these states enabling the state elections then to be held along with the Lok Sabha polls where the Modi factor can then be brought into full play.
Opposition leaders spoken to said that this would not have been ordinarily seen as plausible but “today everything goes.” Technically it is possible provided the CMs resign far ahead of the term of the Assemblies but it will generate an Opposition storm, they said. The BJP will have to weigh the pros and cons of this action carefully, a senior leader said, as it can boomerang by further alienating the voters. And as he pointed out, the opposition would not sit this one out silently and would go to the people immediately in these states.
This along with the preponing of the elections due later next year in states like Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana , Haryana, Maharashtra, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh is on the cards. Even if the postponement of the polls in the above three states does not happen, the clubbing together of all the Assembly elections in 2019 with the Lok Sabha polls is almost a done deal. The BJP effort is to use Modi’s appeal in the parliamentary elections to mobilise sentiments for the state polls that often follow another pattern altogether.
The BJP is clearly worried now after the bypolls with the signals from UP and Bihar certainly not encouraging. This after the formation of the Karnataka government under a determined and aggressive opposition has lit new fires, that the BJP still seems to have little idea of how to quell.