How can a 3-0 defeat for BJP set a new tone for 2019?
After constantly winning states after states like a "Napoleon”, the Modi led BJP is all set to face upcoming assembly polls in the states like Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh. There is no denying the fact that BJP under Modi had been able to emerge victorious in the states despite the much-criticized steps like Demonetization. But the states like Rajasthan, MP, and Chhattisgarh may present a different story. Despite performing well in other states, BJP earlier had lost most of the by-polls in these states where elections will take place in coming months. The cause of concern for the BJP should be not only their weak hold in these states but also the margin by which they lost these by-elections. Be it Alwar, Ajmer or Mandalgarh in Rajasthan. In all these cases, the BJP candidates lost with massive margins and INC emerged victoriously. The defeat with a huge margin can’t be simply seen as a defeat instead it was a rout out. What can be more worrisome for the party is that if they somehow managed to face defeat with a score of 3-0 in these assembly polls as predicted by the recent opinion polls then it can be a major political blunder ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha polls where the party’s president and Chanakya Amit Shah is dreaming to clinch full majority. In politics perception is not a small thing, to build a perception, it may take a long time but to break the same perception, it takes very little time. The Padmavati episode in Rajasthan, scam allegations in MP, and a weak leadership in Chhattisgarh are already building a negative perception for the ruling BJP in the state. To put fuel to this perception, the recent controversy of SC/ST act and highly inflated petrol prices is making a tightrope walk for BJP in the state. A large chunk of BJP vote base is the middle class but after the uncontrolled price hike of the fuel, the BJP is in a risk of losing them in these elections. If we combine these three states then it consists of a total 67 Lok Sabha seats out of which BJP in 2014 had emerged victorious in most of the seats. But if BJP faces defeat in these states then it won’t be an easy task to recover the damages in Lok Sabha elections in a short period. Can BJP pull votes in the name of Modi during these assembly polls? Only time will say that. But if they are somehow able to pull back the votes from Congress in the name of Modi then full marks will be credited to Modi but what if they face defeat even after putting Modi face ahead? Will it decline the face value of Modi? These questions may bound BJP to think whether to project Modi face ahead or not. The primary theme on which Modi won elections was corruption-free India and good governance but these states have been mismanaged and are on the buck of corruption charges which contradicts his theme and so a question arises that how can Modi convince his voters in these states. The victory of Congress in these states will give them something to celebrate against BJP and these set of victories can give Congress an opportunity to set a new tone for 2019 polls. As of now, it seems a one-sided contest in at least Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and if BJP want to put some serious challenge then they will have to go for a populist steps like bringing fuel under GST which will have a direct impact on all segment of voters and it may give BJP something to convince the voters.
Losing with the score of 3-0 just ahead of 2019 polls will be a big jolt for the party and undoubtedly the congress will come in a position to pose a formidable challenge to the BJP which the BJP doesn't want to witness. It will also halt the objective of "Congress mukt Bharat” which the BJP is dreaming of. The BJP needs to work hard in order to at least clinch victory in one of the states to make the score look like 1-3 because the headlines like 3-0 ahead of 2019 will shift the perception to another side which may hurt the prospects of BJP.