BJP proves a point to estranged partners

BJP proves a point to estranged partners

Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP’s gamble of going to state Assembly elections on its own in Maharashtra and Haryana, after breaking its alliances with its partners has paid rich dividends.

For the first time, the party will have its chief ministers in the two states. While in Haryana, the BJP stunned its rivals by winning a simple majority in the 90-member state Assembly, it emerged way ahead of its rivals in the 288-member Maharashtra House, close enough to clinch the leadership issue in its favour vis-à-vis potential partners, including the estranged partner, the Shiv Sena. Though it hasn’t secured a clear majority on its own in state Assembly, the party has proved a point to the Sena. An unresolved dispute over who between the two of them was stronger in the state had led to the break-up of their 25-year alliance just ahead of the elections. With 122 members, the BJP will have almost twice the strength of the Sena in the new state Assembly. The Sena won 63 seats.

Wresting the two states, which have been among top ten other states in economic growth in the country, will be good for Modi to push his reforms and agenda. However, it may not be a smooth affair. A lot of challenges are ahead. In the two states, the BJP lacks leaders with experience in political management. Beyond the favourable election results, the BJP will require deft hands to provide political stability. There is the sensitive issue of Vidarbha statehood demand in Maharashtra and the BJP has done exceedingly well in the polls in the Vidarbha region. Traditional caste equations in Haryana, which the Assembly election results in the BJP’s favour have defied, can be expected to pose a challenge to the first BJP government in the state. These challenges will require the party to be more accommodative of other political voices.  

The results have inflicted another blow to the Congress. From being the ruling party in the two states—in Maharashtra for the last 15 years and in Haryana for the last 10 years––the Congress is relegated to the third position in both states. The party escaped the humiliation of ending up fourth in the race behind its estranged Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) partner by the narrowest possible margin of one seat. It managed to win 42 seats to the NCP’s 41. The Congress leadership should come out of its defeatist mindset, as a pervasive sense of demoralisation in the rank and file can inflict more damage to the party.

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