"It is evident that insulting India's ethos, publicly humiliating Hindu gods and questioning the very idea of India has become the hallmark of the political agenda of the INDI Alliance...,'' says Ravishankar Prasad.
The Narendra Modi ‘mantra’ has done magic for the BJP yet again in the State Assembly polls, giving a boost to the saffron party’s prospects as it gears up for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
Every analyst agrees Modi has dwarfed the BJP and looms over the saffron party like a colossus.
With the BJP choosing not to project a chief ministerial candidate in any of the four key states which went to the polls, the prime minister was the face of his party as he vigorously campaigned, yet again proving that he is the biggest vote-catcher for the saffron party and his popularity has not diminished one bit even after over nine years in office.
The BJP retained power in Madhya Pradesh and dislodged the Congress from office in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, clearly suggesting the voter in Hindi heartland continues to be in awe of the prime minister and the BJP’s slogan of ‘Modi hai to mumkin hai’. Together, the three states account for 65 seats in the Lok Sabha (Madhya Pradesh-29, Rajasthan-25 and Chhattisgarh-11).
The Congress was quite confident of retaining power in both Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh but the results have been a big disappointment for the party ahead of the Lok Sabha polls. The grand old party had some solace as it ousted the K Chandrasekhar Rao-led Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) government in Telangana. However, the victory in Telangana may not be enough for the party to stake its claim to be the natural choice for leading the INDIA bloc of Opposition parties which has vowed to take on the Modi juggernaut in the Parliamentary polls just five months away.
It’s also quite obvious now that the BJP’s below par performance in Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka in May this year was due to strong anti-incumbency sentiments in these two states and had nothing to do with the personal popularity of Modi, the party’s lone mascot.
As BJP workers danced on the streets at different places in the country after the results of the Assembly elections were announced, one could only hear the cries of ”Modi, Modi” with virtually no one shouting slogans in favour of the state leadership.
The most pleasant surprise for the BJP was in Madhya Pradesh where the saffron party succeeded in retaining power despite heavy odds. The Congress gave a tremendous fight to the BJP in the run-up to the polls but the end result was a big disappointment for the grand old party.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan was quick to say that the relentless camapaigning by the prime minister, the poll strategy devised by Home Minister Amit Shah and the pro-poor and pro-women schemes of the Central and state governments resulted in a massive mandate for the saffron party. He made a special mention of the Ladli Laxmi Yojana of his government which captured the imagination of women voters.
In Rajasthan, the Congress has paid a heavy price for the continuous feud between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his bete noire Sachin Pilot which affected the functioning of the state administrative machinery. Thus, Rajasthan stuck to its tradition of changing government every five years.
Of all the four states that went to polls, Chhattisgarh was almost certain to return the Congress to power. Every poll pundit had predicted that Bhupesh Baghel will navigate the grand old party to victory once again but that was not to be. Prime Minister Modi continuously targeted Baghel on the alleged ‘Mahadev’ betting app scam during his election campaign.
In Telangana, however, the saffron party, it seems, still has to cover a long political distance to become a major force. A resurgent Congress effectively countered the BRS and emerged triumphant, thus preventing KCR from performing a hat-trick and consolidating his family stranglehold over the state.