Going beyond the defeat in Karnataka, the party has decided to go all out in pursuing its goals of strengthening its organisation
One can keep a tiger locked up and chained only for so long. A defeat can hurt and haunt anyone, be it in business, or sports, arts, and most certainly in politics, but the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party under the leadership of the double-engine of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah knows to shrug off the last electoral debacle and move on.
And the BJP has decided to do it. Going beyond the defeat in Karnataka, the party has decided to go all out in pursuing its goals of strengthening its organisation, executing a thorough and comprehensive reach-out to people and sit on the drawing board to relook at their strategies and plans for the electoral battles ahead — in states like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Rajasthan — where it has crucial elections later this year, and in Haryana, where the polls will happen next year.
The BJP has strong plans for these states, but it has many issues that it must face ahead.
In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress has already started a campaign to harness the anti-incumbency against the half-term Shivaraj Singh Chouhan-led BJP government — akin to its template in Karnataka — based on corruption and anger against the government which came to power mid-term replacing a previously elected government.
In Chhattisgarh, the Congress has given a stable government and the BJP knows it will face a steep challenge to put together an argument for change against the Bhupesh Baghel-led government, which has delivered on many of its promises, especially its welfare measures.
Rajasthan is rife with opportunity for the BJP, given the unwritten rule of the state to boot out its existing government, one in which Congress leaders have fought incessantly for the nearly entire duration of the government. With its top two leaders at war, the Rajasthan Congress and the party have been split between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and the ambitious young and impatient challenger, Sachin Pilot. The BJP may find that the job is nearly done for them, but politics is tricky and the saffron party hardly would take anything easy.
In Haryana, the party has a longer time to prepare and reboot but with the wrestlers’ issue being so emotionally powerful in the state, its caste equations and the memory of the farmers’ agitation still strong, the BJP has a difficult fight ahead here, too.
The party has a different kind of challenge in Telangana. It is a south Indian state and instead of the Grand Old Party, it has to take on a regional party, the BRS, besides having to counter a resurgent Congress in a three-horse race.
It is significant politically, beyond being the inside business and matter of a particular party, that all parties must approach elections equally stoically, strongly, with sangfroid, and not let a defeat here or there deter them. In fact, in states where a party loses, it must be able to tell itself that it has been given a new role by the people — the role of the Opposition — and be able to do justice to it.
Hopefully the Congress and the other Opposition would also shrug off their inertia and take to fighting elections, chin up, with the same energy.