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Heartland troubles for the BJP?

Jiby J Kattakayam

The exit poll predictions of a strong fight in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh could pose a stiff challenge for BJP’s Lok Sabha election campaign in 2019. Irrespective of whether BJP goes on to form governments in 0,1, 2 or 3 states,  it is undoubtable that there was considerable anti-incumbency on the ground that the Congress may or may not have exploited.

And if this anti-incumbency shows up again in Lok Sabha Polls given that 2019 will not be a “wave” election like 2014, BJP is in for trouble. The Hindi heartland comprising Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, MP, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi had helped BJP pull way ahead of the opposition In 2019, BJP won 62 of the 65 seats in Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh.

Include the other heartland states to the mix and you get 201 of  225 Lok Sabha seats in the heartland states where BJP had won but can now expect a stiffer fight this time with anti-incumbency coming into the picture. Even a 60-40 or a 70-30 split of these seats in 2019 will hurt the BJP’s ability to hit 250 seats. If the Congress succeeds in getting into the act with these assembly elections it will be no pushover in the Lok Sabha polls and the opposition are certain to highlight the performance of local BJP MPs to counter the Modi effect.

The perception of Narendra Modi as a performer and hard worker remains strong, thanks to the visibility he gets from appearing in publicity material for government schemes on newspapers. billboards, tv, radio and other electronic media like internet and ATMs besides remaining in campaign mode at all times. More worrying for the BJP is that its efforts to break new ground to offset potential losses in the heartland remain inconclusive.

BJP has succeeded only in the North-East which has few seats to offer while BJP’s presence in other states like West Bengal, Odisha, and Kerala where its vote share has shown steady increases is yet to hit the critical mass to trouble the lead players in these states. However, finding post-poll allies will not be difficult if BJP emerges the single largest party by a wide margin. One wonders if we will see a new Modi-Shah approach after these election results where they will go hammer and tongs against Congress and its closest allies like RJD and TDP while offering olive branches to the likes of DMK, NCP, BJD, JMM, SP, BSP, TRS, YSRCP and JD(S).

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

via TOI Blog

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Heartland troubles for the BJP?


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