(Dr Pentapati Pullarao)
After the BJP won Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan in December 2023, there is over-confidence in the BJP. It is true that BJP victory in these 3-states is a big victory and makes winning 2024 parliament elections easier. But there are still many hurdles as problems remain in the states of Maharashtra, Bihar, Punjab plus Chandigarh, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Bengal. In 2019, BJP won 113 MP out of 193 MPs in these 7 States. If the elections were to be held today, surveys say BJP will win between 70-80 MPs. That is a steep fall. These 7 states present new problems for the BJP, though there is some time to solve them. 1. Maharashtra: In 2019 elections, there was a BJP and Shiv Sena alliance, and they won 41 MPs out of 48. But now the BJP has no alliance with Shiv sena. BJP has alliance with BREAKAWAY FACTIONS from NCP of Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena. The BJP has the government in Maharashtra. But its new alliance is un-tested. All surveys show BJP alliance getting only 24 MPs out of 48. That means a steep fall. 2. Bihar: In Bihar, in 2019, BJP had an alliance with Nitish Kumar and won 39 out of 40 MPs. In 2019, BJP had the Bihar Government. Now Nitish Kumar is Chief minister against the BJP. Though the BJP is getting stronger, it is doubtful if BJP alliance in Bihar can exceed 20 MPs now. 3. Punjab: In 2019, out of 14 MPs, in Punjab and Chandigarh, BJP alliance with Akal Dal won 7 MPs. But now, there is a Kejriwal government. The BJP and Akali Dal together won le4ss than 15% of the vote in recent assembly Punjab elections. Therefore, it is certain that BJP cannot possibly win any seat in Punjab. Even if Kejriwal and Congress fight each other, they will win all the 14 MPs in Punjab.
4. Andhra Pradesh: In 2019, the BJP fought alone in Andhra Pradesh and won zero MPs. Till now, the BJP does not have a full alliance, as it refuses to ally with the TDP. If the BJP fights without either the TDP or YSR Party, then it will get ZERO MPs in Andhra.
5. Telangana: In Telangana, BJP won 4 MPs surprisingly in 2019. In 2019, there was KCR party and Congress, and it was a triangular fight. But now there is a Congress government, which is already looking for strong MP candidates. It will be impossible for the BJP to increase its tally of 4 MPs. The BJP fought KCR and helped Congress come to power in Telangana. BJP bought a bigger enemy for itself. 6. Bengal: In 2019, BJP won 18 MPs out of 42 MPs in Bengal. Mamata Banerjee won 22 MPs and Congress won 2 MPs, with zero MPs for the Communists. The BJP got 37 % of the votes and others got the remaining votes. There looks surely that there will be an alliance between Mamata and the Congress and maybe with Communists. If that happens, the BJP will definitely have to fight to retain its 18 MPs, as its rivals have a bigger vote share. 7. Delhi: The BJP won all the 7 MPs in Delhi in 2019. But its vote share was only 40%. The Kejriwal party and Congress got over 50% votes together. There will be an alliance between Kejriwal and Congress. The BJP will have to fight to win the 7 MPs. 8. Kerala and Tamil Nadu: BJP has no MPs in these 2 States. By itself, the BJP cannot win a single MP in 2024. In the above 9 states, the BJP is not strong as its in other Hindi states. These 9 states account for 253 MPs out of the total of 542. Remember, the BJP won 113 out of these 253 MPs in 2019. If the INDIA Alliance gets together in all these states, then the BJP will face a reduction of the 113 MPs it won in 2019.
The strong BJP states: Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan are the strong BJP states. The BJP has won 90% of the MPs in these States. It can hardly improve that number. Therefore, the BJP must do well in these str9ogn Hindi States and also try to improve its politics in Bihar, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab. Can BJP improve in Punjab, Bihar? In Bihar, BJP has no option but to try to weaken Nitish Kumar’s government. After the 3- state victory in December 2023, the BJP stands a good chance of weakening Nitish Kumar government in Bihar. Only then, the BJP can get high number of MPs in Bihar. In Maharashtra, the BJP has to work harder to topple the vote banks of Sharad Pawar and Shiv sena. The BJP is definitely trying to erode its opponents. The BJP is making all efforts to attract leaders from other parties with an image. In Punjab, the situation for the BJP is very difficult, except maybe in Chandigarh BJP in Andhra Pradesh: There is every chance that the BJP will slowly ally with the TDP. The BJP has no other option if it wants a pre-poll alliance in Andhra and get some MPs with the alliance. The BJP top leaders realize that there is some anti-incumbency against the Modi government and Andhra Pradesh must contribute MPs Strength of the opposition: a. Unlike in 2019, in nearly 450 MP seats, there will be one-to-one contests against the BJP. There will also be a common manifesto. b. It is also a fact that Rahul Gandhi will not be the prime minister-face of the opposition. It might be mallikarjun kharge or soemoen else.
Modi remembers the 2004 Vajpayee government defeat: Narendra Modi was chief Minister of Gujarat in 2004. The Vajpayee government was extremely confident that it will win a majority on its own and threw away allies like the DMK, Haryana’s Chautala, Jharkhand’s Shibu Soren, Assam’s AGP and others. Modi also knows that sycophants and flatterers gather around power and will bluff the leader. Modi saw how an elderly Vajpayee was fooled by some BJP leaders in his coterie. But things went wrong. Vajpayee dissolved the Parliament 6 months ahead of time. But elections could not be held, and a surprise defeat was given to Vajpayee. The defeat of 2004 of Vajpayee also taught Narendra Modi another lesson. That once you lose, it is very difficult to come back. Modi saw how Vajpayee was pushed into oblivion. Modi also saw that L.K. Advani and others could not revive the BJP in 2009. It appears that Narendra Modi is fully aware of the challenges facing him in 2024. Definitely, Modi and Amit Shah will try to repair the defects facing BJP now. However much a politician tries, finally some luck is also needed. Let us see how Modi tries to get a third term, which only Nehru got and there Modi has enough luck in storage.
(Author is a political and economic analyst based in New Delhi)