Though the BJP had claimed that the beating it took in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan would not affect its electoral positions and prospects in other states, the impact has been immediately felt in the two other Hindi-speaking states of Bihar and UP. These two are states, with a large representation in the Lok Sabha, and the party’s performance there in the 2019 elections will be crucial. The fall in the BJP’s stock has given strength and confidence to some of its allies to bargain harder for seats and to some others even to threaten to quit the National Democratic Alliance. Upendra Kushwaha’s RLSP has left the NDA in Bihar and joined the UPA. The BJP had to make major concessions to Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) and Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP in seat sharing. Though the BJP had won 22 seats in the state in the last elections, it has given away five of those seats. The BJP and the JD(U) will now contest 17 seats each and six seats have been given to the LJP.
In UP, which is electorally the most important state, the BJP is facing pressure and threats from its allies. Two of them — the Apna Dal and the Suheldeo Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) — have told the BJP that it will have to take another look at its relations with allies. That is another way for saying that they expect better treatment and more seats. The BJP is not in a position to ignore these demands because the support of even small parties will count in UP, where an alliance between the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party will pose a formidable challenge to it. It had won 71 of the state’s 80 seats in 2014. In the new situation, the party will have to make major compromises with its allies.
The BJP’s rebellious ally, the Shiv Sena, has further upped the ante and even embarrassed and humiliated the party by ridiculing it and virtually calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi a thief. The BJP is in no position to even give a reply to the Shiv Sena in public. The BJP’s haughtiness, born of being the leader of the ruling alliance with a majority of its own in the Lok Sabha, is gone. The realisation that even the best situation may not be good enough for the party after the elections has dawned on it. The loss of the paramountcy of Narendra Modi whose winning ways it cannot bank on anymore is worrisome for the party. The allies understand the party’s plight and are trying to extract the maximum advantage. That happened in Bihar and might happen in other states.