BJP Yet to Hit their Stride

BJP Yet to Hit their Stride

As the opposition bloc INDI continues to fumble, fail to take up pertinent issues and rally masses behind, it raises the question of whether the alliance can really topple Modi-led BJP. It is not forcefully raising issues such as unemployment and rising prices and falling household incomes which could have some negative impact on the BJP. Nevertheless, BJP needs to realise that it is not going to be a cakewalk to achieve ‘Ab Ki Bar 400 Paar’. Despite the lack of unity among the bloc INDI partners, BJP along with its NDA partners may not win more than 345 seats. The saffron party is yet to hit the ground running in states like AP and TS where it can clock some numbers. It cannot remain smug

As the battleground for the 2024 Lok Sabha Elections intensifies, political leaders are leaving no stone unturned in their quest to defeat their rival party candidates. This is the situation across the country.

At the national level, the opposition parties under the banner of I.N.D.I.A have so far failed to create an atmosphere of challenge to the BJP-led NDA. It still faces a humongous task in achieving its dream of stopping the BJP juggernaut. With the first and the second phase of polling to begin soon, it raises the question whether the bloc INDI can topple Modi government at all?

While the answer certainly would be a big ‘no,’ it is also not a cakewalk for BJP to achieve ‘Ab Ki Bar 400 Paar’. As we had discussed this issue in the past as well, the BJP has reached a point of saturation in North and needs to put in a lot of hard work if that loss has to be covered at least to some extent in the Southern belt.

There is a general feeling that despite the lack of unity among the bloc INDI partners, BJP along with its NDA partners may not win more than 345 seats. It is felt that the Congress strategy of creating a counter narrative to BJP has failed despite the yatras of Rahul Gandhi but then there are issues like unemployment and rising prices and falling household incomes which could have some negative impact on the BJP, making it difficult for the party to secure 350 seats on its own.

The real battle ground for the BJP and Congress would be Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal and Bihar, which together account for about 210 seats. In UP and Bihar, the I.N.D.I.A hopes that caste card would help them. In Punjab, AAP is going solo. With speculations gaining ground that Delhi state may be put under President’s rule soon, the opposition camp hopes it would be able to make it a major issue, highlighting that the country is facing an undeclared emergency. However, it may not cut much ice with the voters in the Hindi belt and it is not an issue in the regional battle zones either.

Fight in Maharashtra is going to be a keen one as there are many splinter parties in the fray. In West Bengal, thanks to the adamant attitude of TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, the battle is going to be a stiff one. In the 2019 elections, the gap between Didi’s party and Modi’s BJP was just about three per cent. In South India, the INDI bloc may have advantage in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The BJP is aware of it and leaving no stone unturned in Tamil Nadu to increase its vote share. It wants to touch a double figure in the ensuing Lok Sabha elections.

In other battle zones down south, in Telangana, the loss of BRS could be the gain of BJP but then it appears that the saffron party because of its flip flops such as the sudden change of its state president and lack of proper coordination and failure to convert Modi’s guarantees into party’s advantage gives an impression that the gusto that was seen in BJP rank and file before the change of guard in the state unit somehow petered out and there is a perceptible lack of coordination at various levels.

Just as the pink party BRS, the BJP, too, has been claiming that the newly elected Congress government would collapse soon and continues to criticise the government of the day, more so because traditional rivalry at the national level. In a similar vein, the party is silent on the omissions and commissions of the previous government, including the Delhi liquor scam and the Kaleshwaram scandal. The BJP leaders’ attack is limited to raising heat on Congress, questioning why it has not implemented its five guarantees yet. Well, it appears that the Telangana BJP is confusing the narrative of Karnataka with Telangana. It is only over 120 days and the Congress came to power in the last quarter of the financial year with allegedly empty coffers. The new financial year has just begun and the election code is in vogue.

When it comes to Andhra Pradesh, the saffron party took a lot of time, dithering on joining the TDP-Jana Sena alliance. There were some in the state unit who had strongly opposed the alliance, which gave to suspicions that some important leaders were working like “coverts” for the YSRCP. Even after the BJP finally decided to join the alliance, some leaders reportedly insisted that the saffron party should ask for some Assembly seats where it had no presence at all just to damage the TDP where it has a strong base.

One such seat was Anaparti in East Godavari district. This seat is a keenly contested one between YSRCP and TDP. It is now embroiled in controversy as the TDP rank and file and the aspirant candidate Mula Reddy are refusing to cooperate with the alliance candidate. It has become a contentious seat and efforts are on to resolve the issue. The local people claim that the unsavoury incident cropped up as some senior BJP leaders had misguided the party central leadership. Some even allege that there were some monetary considerations involved in it.

The BJP so far has not been aggressive in its campaign in the state. Hopefully, the scenario is likely to change from the next week as the top leadership of TDP, JSP and BJP has started working on a joint manifesto which would consist of about 10 guarantees. The expectation is that when top BJP leaders like Modi and Amit Shah would soon focus their attention on the state, the campaign would become shriller and more intense.

In the meantime, there is lot of work to be done regarding administrative measures that the ECI needs to take to ensure free and fair elections in the state. On one hand, there are allegations of phone tapping of opposition leaders using Pegasus software and fake news and surveys are flooding the social media, and, on the other, there are apprehensions among the voters that unless the BJP-led government at Centre focuses its attention on strict enforcement of law and order, it would be a violent polling day. This may require a lot of reshuffle of officials at various levels including the top police bosses.

The BJP in Andhra Pradesh is facing credibility issue among the voters as there is a strong undercurrent that it has helped the YSRCP government in last five years. If the Centre still loses time in taking tough administrative measures to instill confidence among the people that it means business and enforce all measures necessary to ensure free and fair polls, it could prove to be a loss for the alliance in terms of over 15 Assembly seats.

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