Congress disarray is advantage BJP

Congress disarray is advantage BJP

Jyotiraditya Scindia has ensured Madhya Pradesh is back into the BJP kitty just two years after it lost elections there

The ruling BJP, which claimed to have become the world’s largest party surpassing the total  membership number of even the Communist Party of China and clocked a membership of 180 million last year, has not left a single opportunity to further dent the Congress, whose total membership stands nowhere in comparison with the saffron surge.

The party, after winning the 2014 Lok Sabha polls with 282 seats, became the only party since 1984 to have got a majority in the Lok Sabha on its own. It did not rest with that laurel and took its tally further up, winning 303 seats in the 2019 general elections. 

In the last two years, there is a trend of the Modi wave becoming a bit tepid and a pattern has emerged which shows people vote differently in Lok Sabha and state Assembly polls. And hence, even those who support Modi at the Centre will not essentially vote for BJP in states.

When BJP fought its first assembly poll in Gujarat in 2017-end with Modi not being the CM face, it could not cross the double digit, winning 99 seats, a substantial low from its tally in last several polls. Similarly, in Maharasthra, it lost its oldest ally Shiv Sena and thereby a government in 2019 while in Haryana the same year, its numbers came down substantially. It also lost party-ruled Jharkhand.

But unlike Congress, the BJP has been quick to take corrective measures and put its house in order in time.

While it fights valiantly even an election which it is bound to lose as was seen in Delhi in 2020 and Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in 2018 (in Rajasthan BJP did much better than predicted by all), it has also taken measures to arrest the decline in time. Within months of losing Jharkhand in 2019, BJP ensured ‘gharwapasi’ of the state’s first CM and its once most popular face Babulal Marandi and made him leader of the party in Assembly.

In Haryana, as it fell short of numbers, BJP quickly sew up an alliance with Jananayak Janata Party headed by Dushyant Chautala and ensured a second term for Manoharlal Khattar government. In Delhi, though the BJP knew it was a lost battle, it fought the elections with full gusto and ensured its tally rose to eight from the three assembly seats it had won in 2015.

In Gujarat, BJP broke the triumvirate of Hardik Patel, Jignesh Mevani and Alpesh Thakor, which had ensured Congress’ good show in 2017 state polls. It inducted Thakor, an emerging OBC face and another Congress legislator Dhavalsinh Zala into the BJP in July 2019.

The saffron party, which was turned into a giant election machinery by former BJP chief Amit Shah, has also shown great inclination in plucking the low hanging fruits from the Congress tree while the latter merely looked on. Result is that even as many BJP leaders in past gave “Congress Mukt Bharat” call, the party has increasingly depended on commanders of Congress in various states to further their expansion. And they have done it successfully. 

While the ‘Maharja’ of Gwalior royal family Jyotiraditya Scindia has ensured Madhya Pradesh is back into the BJP kitty just two years after it lost elections there, this will also permanently ensure BJP being in a strong position in 34 assembly seats of Gwalior-Chambal region, where Scindia holds the sway.

It is not new. Ever since coming to power in 2014, the BJP made good use of the talent pool of Congress be it the ace strategist Himanta Biswa Sarma of Assam, which ensured BJP forms a government in the state in 2016 and expand its footprint in the entire North East region or a Cabinet minister in previous Congress government in Manipur who is now the state CM from the BJP after having joined the saffron party in 2017.

BJP also made good use of former AICC general secretary Chaudhary Birender Singh, a Jat leader into its fold and made him a Cabinet minister in Modi’s first term. Singh was extensively used by the saffron party to quell the anger from the Jats in Haryana, Western UP and many adjoining regions. Similarly, former CM of Congress Vijay Bahuguna helped BJP in increasing its support among Brahmins, a substantial vote block in Uttarakhand. Bahuguna had moved to BJP with his supporters lock stock and barrel in 2016.

How the BJP has used this as a strategy to make its presence felt in regions where it had no say can be best summed from the example in West Bengal. Despite a massive Modi wave in 2014, it could win only two of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal. 

When the BJP saw differences growing between Mamata Banerjee and her party’s chief strategist Mukul Roy over increasing prominence in the party to Mamata’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee, it started wooing Roy, who was in a corner facing probes in chit-fund scam.

In November 2017, Roy was made to join the BJP. A stream of Trinamool Congress legislators and workers followed suit. In 2019 Lok Sabha polls, BJP recorded a nine-fold jump in its tally from two to 18 and is now trying to gearing up to wrest West Bengal from Trinamool in the 2021 assembly polls.

Using all the tricks of the game, the BJP has so far kept its head above as far as electoral success is concerned and has been able to manage its reverses and bounce back into action.

J P Nadda has inherited a success story from Amit Shah and the challenge before him to ensure the story goes on.

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