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  Opinion   Edit  12 Dec 2018  ‘Semi-final’ boost for Congress, jolt to BJP

‘Semi-final’ boost for Congress, jolt to BJP

Published : Dec 12, 2018, 1:52 am IST
Updated : Dec 12, 2018, 1:52 am IST

The way the election has gone in these states is apt to boost morale in the non-BJP camp across the country.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi (Photo: PTI)
 Congress president Rahul Gandhi (Photo: PTI)

The much-awaited results to the Assembly elections in five states — especially the three Hindi heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh — would appear to have loaded the dice against the BJP, the present incumbent, in the next Lok Sabha polls due in early 2019.

These three states saw a straight BJP-versus-Congress clash, and the Congress appears to have bested the BJP, although much has been made in the past four years and a half of the purported invincibility of the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah leadership, which was said to have at its command the best election-fighting machine in the world.

In Chhattisgarh especially, but to a considerable extent also in Rajasthan, the Congress victories were quite striking. In MP, however, the BJP gave evidence of how rooted it has been in that state. It managed to maintain a level of tense equality in the state in terms of seats won, although chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is fighting a three-term anti-incumbency. The final poll result dangled in the balance till late on Tuesday evening as the race has proved to be extremely tight.

In terms of the percentage of votes won, the Congress came from a long way behind to beat the BJP hollow in Chhattisgarh and handsomely in Rajasthan (and in seat terms as well). In MP, it raced ahead of the BJP after covering a deficit of over five per cent in the 2013 election, but appeared almost even with its rival in seat numbers.

The massive BJP Lok Sabha win of 2014 was constructed on the strength of seats won in the Hindi heartland states despite polling only a modest 31 per cent of the vote. That makes Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and MP particularly significant. The way the election has gone in these states is apt to boost morale in the non-BJP camp across the country.

For the BJP, in contrast, the mood cannot but be of deep self-introspection since the parliamentary election is less than six months away and the mood generated by Tuesday’s results is widely expected to cast a shadow.

In the remaining two states where Assembly polls were held, the TRS put up a bulldozing show in Telangana, posing the Congress difficult questions. Another regional outfit, the Mizoram National Front, put paid to the Congress’ hopes in a state where it was a two-term incumbent.

Questions over Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s leadership qualities, and his emergence as a significant player on the national stage, were evidently answered on Tuesday. Equally, it seems Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s skills as a campaigner are efficacious so long as the Centre’s policies are not questioned on the ground. At the heart of the disenchantment today is farm distress and the rising unemployment.

Tags: rahul gandhi, assembly elections results, mizoram national front