What looked like a certainty has now turned into a tragedy. Just a few months ago, the BJP was counting the number of additional seats it would inevitably win in the Rajya Sabha; now it is calculating what it will certainly lose.
Bihar has destroyed the wait-till-we-have-a-majority-in-RS enthusiasm in the BJP. The state sends 16 members to the upper House. Five of them, all from the JD(U), will retire in July and another four from the BJP will have to seek re-election in 2018. With just 58 members in the Assembly, the BJP is likely to retain just one seat. So, instead of going up, its numbers will fall in the RS.
This is just the beginning of the BJP's troubles. If its downward slide continues, the party will find that electoral wins have become rare and a long winter of setbacks has begun.
Next up for polls is West Bengal, where the BJP is in terminal decline after the promise it showed in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls by getting nearly 17 percent of the votes — an increase of almost 10 points over 2009. Since every election in 2014, the BJP has lost around five percent of the votes. If the trend continues in West Bengal, the BJP and the Congress will be competing for the fourth slot behind Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool and the Left parties.
Buoyed by the success in 2014, the BJP had announced that it will make Bengal TMC-mukt. But the reverse seems to be happening. In the elections for local bodies held in April 2015, voters discarded the BJP, leaving its score-sheet blank. It was defeated in all the municipal boards, while the TMC almost doubled its tally — from 38 in 2010 to 71 (out of 92) this year.
The BJP won just four percent of the state’s 2,090 wards, and suffered a huge setback in Kolkata, considered its catchment area. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had emerged as the number two party in Kolkata, winning in 26 wards with a 25 percent vote-share. But a year later it won just seven wards with an estimated 15 percent share. With the party floundering in the urban constituencies, its future looks bleak.
The BJP's chances of a credible show in other poll-bound states are bleak. In Tamil Nadu, it will need a credible ally to take on the two Dravidian parties; if it fails to do so, the BJP will remain a fringe player. In Puducherry, where elections are due in 2016, the BJP doesn't have even have a presence.
On paper, the BJP can hope to win in Assam, where it had won seven Lok Sabha seats in 2014 with a vote share of nearly 40 percent. But, the BJP will find the going tough if the Congress manages to ally with the All-India United Democratic Front, a party that claims to represent Assam's Muslims. The combined vote share of the Congress (30 percent) and AIDUF (15 percent) can lead to an encore of the Bihar results.
Punjab, where elections will be held in 2017, has almost slipped from the BJP's grasp. Even at the peak of the 2014 Narendra Modi wave, the Congress and the AAP had won more seats than the SAD-BJP combine (3, 4, 4, 2); its stalwart leader Arun Jaitley had lost to Congress heavyweight Amarinder Singh.
The situation in Punjab has only worsened since 2014 because of the Akali government's inability to deal with the Panthic agenda, strident opposition from extremists and the violence following desecration of holy scriptures. In 2012, the Akalis had won the Assembly election in spite of getting fewer votes than the Congress. In the next election, its only hope lies in the division of anti-government votes between the Congress and the AAP. But, with the Congress deciding to bring Amarinder Singh back to the forefront and the AAP leaders fighting among each other, the SAD-BJP alliance appears in danger of being toppled soon.
The BJP's biggest test, however, will be the Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh. While defeat in other states will chip away at its popularity and credibility, the outcome in UP will be decisive for the party's future. If it wins, the wind will be back in the BJP sails; if it loses, both Modi and his government will drown into failure and oblivion.
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Updated Date: Nov 16, 2015 14:05:50 IST