Key takeaways from Jharkhand poll results: Regional parties defy BJP's expansion plans, Congress hits right note with allies
The Jharkhand Assembly election results seem to be on the lines of a trend that has emerged in the country’s political scenario over the past few state elections: despite the expansionist wave of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), regional parties are holding their ground and, in some instances, even emerging stronger.
Regional parties are holding their ground against the BJP and, in some instances, even emerging stronger
Congress has become more flexible, adjusting and agreed to compromise to make its alliances work
BJP’s equation with its allies has undergone a dramatic shift with the saffron party's expansionist ambitions taking a toll
The Jharkhand Assembly election results seem to be on the lines of a trend that has emerged in the country’s political scenario over the past few state elections: despite the expansionist wave of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), regional parties are holding their ground and, in some instances, even emerging stronger. This is by far the biggest takeaway from the Jharkhand results; the other being the changing equations of the BJP and the Congress with their allies.
The Jharkhand results shows how a regional party, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, bagged largest number of seats (till now) and emerged as claimant to form the government with its alliance partners Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD).
Regional parties rebound
While on one hand the BJP grew stronger at the Centre, the smaller, regional parties, even some of the new ones, have emerged stronger at state-level. Contrary to the assumption that regional parties would be decimated under the BJP wave and the juggernaut that is Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the regional parties have become a decisive factor in government formation.
The most recent example of this was the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, which ultimately formed the government by joining hands with the NCP and Congress. In Haryana, the BJP succeeded in forming the government only after Dushyant Chautala’s regional Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), the new kid on the block, lent its support.
Even in instances where there have been no alliances, Odisha for example, the BJP lost to its main rival the Biju Janata Dal (BJD), another regional powerhouse.
Congress gets alliance game right
Jharkhand result has yet again proved that the Congress party has, of late, been getting its alliances right. With Sonia Gandhi as interim party president, the Congress has redefined its strategy to make alliances work successfully. Its alliance with Shiv Sena and NCP is a case in point.
Congress has become more flexible, adjusting and agreed to compromise to make its alliances work. One may recall how the Shiv Sena had attacked Sonia with derogatory language, and even questioning her nationality. However, in Maharashtra, Sonia put aside the bad memories to make an alliance.
In Madhya Pradesh, Congress formed the government with Kamal Nath as chief minister by taking the support of Bahujan Samaj Party, Samajwadi Party and Independents without much fuss.
“The victory of Congress in three BJP-ruled states Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan in 2018 Assembly elections, and a series of electoral victories in the past year with its allies show how Congress has been gaining ground,” senior party leader PL Punia said.
BJP gets alliance game wrong
The Jharkhand results also point to another trend: the BJP’s equation with its allies has undergone a dramatic shift with the saffron party's expansionist ambitions taking a toll on its alliances.
Over the past five years, the nation has been witness to a deteriorating relationship between the BJP and its alliance partners, both in the states and within the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at the Centre.
The Maharashtra Assembly election is a case in point. Both the BJP and the Shiv Sena contested as allies and emerged victorious. But they quickly parted ways after a bitter face-off over power-sharing. A three-decade partnership came to an end after the Shiv Sena withdrew from the NDA.
There has also been growing distrust between the BJP and its allies: First, it was with Telugu Desam Party with the N Chandrababu-led party distancing itself from the NDA. Next was People’s Democratic Party in Jammu and Kashmir. Both PDP and BJP formed an alliance government which ended after a bitter spat.
The Janata Dal (United), an ardent NDA ally, also left the fold, only to return after Nitish Kumar had a change of mind. In Jharkhand, the BJP contested all the seats on its own and the results are on display.
“It’s high time for the BJP to introspect,” political commentator and author, Rasheed Kidwai told Firstpost. “Though the BJP managed to win the general election by a huge margin, a string of Assembly elections have shown that the prime minister isn't invincible and that the BJP can be defeated. Two years ago, the BJP was dominating the political map of India, but that has halved. The BJP has lost states such as Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Odisha, all of which have a sizeable tribal population. The hypernationalism narrative also didn’t work much, especially the issues of Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens. As a result, many alliance partners either moved away or didn’t support BJP.”
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