BJP and Congress now gear up for 2019 battle

BJP and Congress now gear up for 2019 battle

Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi. (PTI Photos)

After losing Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the BJP’s focus is now on saving the central government as the 2019 Lok Sabha elections approach.

The poll strategy for the Lok Sabha will be the central theme of the ruling party on Thursday when its chief Amit Shah meets the party office bearers from 29 states.

The Congress on the other hand, which is still celebrating, is in no mood to let go the momentum and will be projecting the results as a referendum on the performance of the Narendra Modi government and the BJP’s politics at the national level.

While BJP leaders were in an overdrive to describe the results as having localised effects, the Congress has brought out the daggers against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, debunking the saffron party leaders’ attempt to insulate the Modi-Shah duo.

The spectacle is similar to what Congress used to defending the leadership of Rahul Gandhi and putting the blame on local leaders after each electoral loss after the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and even before that, ever since Rahul began calling shots in the party soon after becoming its vice president way back in January 2013.

Expressing happiness over the outcome, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi said in Parliament that it is a “Congress victory over the BJP’s negative politics”.

Clearly, the Congress’ focus is to keep the heat on the central leadership of the BJP, a strategy which was echoed by its leaders from the national capital to state capitals.

Chhattisgarh Congress chief Bhupesh Baghel said this is the defeat of Modi and Shah and not only Raman Singh’s. He also said that this will reflect in 2019 as well.

Echoing similar views, Rajasthan Congress chief Pritam Singh said that the victorious march of the party in three States — Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh — would continue into the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Another indication of this was also available when Rahul late on Tuesday evening linked the victory to the 2019 Lok Sabha battle — saying that it is going to become very difficult for the prime minister and the BJP to win the 2019 election due to a resurgent Congress in the states and in other states where the BJP is ruling and a combined opposition.

While Rahul said he would work jointly with like-minded Opposition parties and work out alliances and defeat the BJP in the country in 2019 Lok Sabha elections, today is the time for the BSP and the SP to come around.

Mayawati, who had played hardball throughout these state elections, announced support to the Congress’ bid to form a government in MP and Rajasthan and took a categorical stand on the BJP saying the very reason she fought these elections was to defeat the BJP.

Even Yadav said that the Samajwadi Party has decided to support the Congress in MP and hit out at the BJP for having spread hatred and for deceiving the public.

“They will be given an answer in LS elections,” Yadav said.

The standby SP and BSP, who have so far given a short shrift to the Congress for the alliance of 80 Lok Sabha seats, is significant.

The realisation that Hindi belt victories have catapulted the Congress to a strong position ahead of the 2019 polls can be seen in Mayawati announcing her support to the party.

A number of Opposition leaders, who earlier insisted on Sonia Gandhi to lead the mantle of Opposition unity and flagged differences to work in any combination led by Rahul, are also showing a change of mind.

Hailing the Congress victory, NCP boss Sharad Pawar said it marked the “beginning of change” and interpreted the results as the “rejection” of the BJP-led government’s policies.

The NCP and Congress will fight the next Lok Sabha polls and the subsequent Assembly polls in Maharashtra in an alliance.