Mumbai: While it was slim pickings for the BJP in Gujarat – 99 to the Congress’ 80 – 2017 has been a good year for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his party.
The BJP since the beginning of the year has won six out of the seven Assembly elections in the country.
BJP’s victory trend started in February after the party won Goa and Uttarakhand.
A month after that in March, the BJP swept through Uttar Pradesh and Manipur.
The party however lost against the Congress in Punjab in 2017 Assembly polls.
Though the Modi-led NDA government has faced a lot of flak for demonetisation and the faulty implementation of GST, its winning streak shows voters are still generous.
But the Gujarat election that the BJP scraped through was closely watched. Traders of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state went on a rampant strike after the GST was announced.
With this, the Congress slide continues and it is now in power in only Punjab and Karnataka of the 18 states, which elect 10 or more Lok Sabha members. The party is also in power in Meghalaya, Mizoram and Puducherry.
The BJP's footprint across the country has become bigger and firmer with each election.
The list of states where the Congress has lost power since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to office and Amit Shah became BJP president has got longer with the fall of Himachal Pradesh.
Under Modi and Shah, the BJP has ousted the Congress from power in Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand, Assam, Uttarakhand, Goa, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
In Goa and Manipur, which threw up hung assemblies, it got fewer seats than the Congress but managed to form governments by stitching up alliances with smaller parties and independents.
The only state where the Congress has won during this period is Punjab.
The BJP has lost only in those state polls where it has never been a serious contender for power -- West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu -- or where its main challenge came from regional parties, like Bihar and Delhi.
It is now in power in Bihar as an ally of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
After elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, the battle ground will now shift to Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka. The outcome of the 2018 polls in these states would be crucial for the final showdown in 2019.
Narrow win in Gujarat could now make things difficult for the saffronites to secure a comfortable win in the ruling states like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
In Rajasthan Congress is already on the upswing. Also unlike Gujarat in Karnataka, the Congress has a strong chief minister candidate in Siddaramaiah.
If Rahul Gandhi manages to perform in 2018, a strong Congress can also become the nucleus around which all other non-BJP regional parties can gather.
After Janata Dal (United) (JD(U)) leader, Nitish Kumar's shift to NDA, the non-BJP parties were in hunt for a credible face. If Rahul pulls through, a possibility of him emerging as the main Opposition cannot be ruled out.
Here is a look at the states which will go to polls in 2018:
Karnataka - In 2013 Karnataka Assembly polls, Congress had defeated BJP with a thumping majority. The Congress bagged 122 seats out of 223 which went to polls, nine more than the majority mark of 113. The BJP managed to win mere 40 seats.
Congress’ win in Karnataka was a major success for the party as it defeated BJP which had bagged 110 seats in 2008.
Madhya Pradesh - BJP has been winning in the state for two consecutive terms and the victory of the saffron party in 2018 will enhance the party's stronghold in the state.
In 2013 assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, BJP won 165 of 230 seats while the Congress in the state just managed to get a meager 58 votes. In 2008, BJP won 143 seats leaving only 71 for the Congress.
Chhattisgarh: In Chhattisgarh too the BJP had retain the victory trend for the two consecutive assembly elections. In 2013 elections, BJP bagged 49 out of 90 Assembly seats while the Congress won 39 seats.
In 2008, BJP won 50 seats while Congress managed to get only 38 seats.
Rajasthan - In 2013 Rajasthan Assembly elections, BJP had bagged 163 seats out of 200 seats while the Congress just managed to win 21 seats.
In 2008 assembly elections in the northern state, Congress defeated BJP by winning 96 seats while the saffron party won 78 seats.