How BJP’s terrifying growth may become a headache in 2019

Here is the BJP’s current strength : 281 Lok Sabha MPs and 10 sitting Chief Ministers. Additionally, the BJP is an active contender for power in at least 3 large states I can think of (Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Karnataka) and a bunch of smaller states (Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, etc). In the last two and half years alone, it has established first time Chief Ministers in 3 states (Haryana, Maharashtra and Assam). What is terrifying to other political parties in India is that despite its already massive size, the BJP is still growing and actually growing really fast. And while such explosive growth may bring jubilation to a right wing impatient to see a collapse of the Congress ecosystem, it is not without “near term risks” in the 2019 General Elections.

Away from the drumbeat of the Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh and four other states, here is a result that will probably go unnoticed.

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What? How? Local elections are supposed to be a cakewalk for the ruling party, especially with Navin babu being the face of Odisha. But the BJD has barely limped past the BJP in the Zila Parishad Polls. It is ridiculous to talk about a “Modi wave” in Odisha local polls. This is a success achieved on the ground by an RSS/BJP cadre that is ever hungry for success.

On a side note, the elite media said that the poor were worst affected by demonetization. I guess the following result means that there is little poverty in Kalahandi district of Odisha.

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Coming back to my main point, such amazing success actually comes with heavy downsides. For instance, Navin babu would have been one of the first partners the BJP could have counted on if it fell short of 272 seats in 2019. That possibility becomes tougher now. In fact, a result like this one opens the door for an alliance between BJD and the Congress. At the same time, the door for any pre-poll or post-poll arrangement between BJD and BJP is closing. For one, such an alliance would be unfair to the BJP’s own workers, who have toiled hard to build up some anti-incumbency against the near invincible Navin Patnaik. The BJP leadership in Delhi doesn’t even have the moral right to nullify those hard won gains by aligning with the BJD.

The same pattern is repeating all across the country with the BJP’s terrifying growth threatening the vote base of every other party. Bihar was just a trailer, where arch rivals came together to form  a Mahagathbandhan against the BJP. Simultaneously, even though Nitish Kumar has softened his stance towards the BJP, there is simply not enough space for a renewed alliance with the JDU. Why? Because the BJP already has 22 sitting MPs of its own in the 40 seats of Bihar, not to mention 6 MPs of the LJP (and another 3 MPs of Upendra Kushwaha).  Where is the space to offer Nitish Kumar? And again, such an alliance would be unfair to BJP workers who have grown the party in Bihar all the way to a winning position. It is not for Modi and Shah to step in now, declare an alliance and block their way in the last mile.

There’s Maharashtra, where the Shiv Sena is only a heartbeat away from joining hands with the Congress. Because of the egoistic and irrational nature of the Shiv Sena top leadership, the SS may have shunned an alliance this time with the MNS, but chances are that defeat in the BMC polls will make them wiser before 2019. Why? Because the BJP is now the dominant party in Mumbai; it has laid claim to Chhatrapati Shivaji and is making a successful bid for the Sena’s Marathi voters. The BJP’s growth is leaving no option for its opponents but to gang up.

Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and soon Mumbai may be glimpses of what “post-Congress politics” would look like in the short term. Here’s the simple arithmetic : most elections are won by a margin of about 5% votes. At many places, the Congress has been reduced to a rump party, which still polls 5-10% votes. Ironically, this makes the Congress a very attractive alliance partner for regional parties. Generally speaking, if the Congress begins to rent out its 5-10% votes in each state to a regional player, the alliance will prevail over the BJP. That is why Rahul Gandhi is much welcome as a junior intern to Akhilesh Yadav : Rahul’s party will never rise again in Uttar Pradesh and Akhilesh Yadav could definitely use the 5-10% legacy vote attached to the Congress. If the BJP wins a majority in Uttar Pradesh, things could arguably get even worse, since even a BSP+SP+Cong+RLD combine in 2019 cannot be ruled out.

Not to mention Karnataka, where the Congress could ally now with Deve Gowda’s JDS so as to save itself from a certain defeat. And we still don’t know all the “impossible” things that could happen as the BJP keeps growing in Bengal and Kerala.

My final remark is that while the whole opposition “ganging up”  might give the RW a sense of unfairness, it actually isn’t unfair. Modi and Shah have stated their aim to turn the BJP into a dominant political system like that of the Congress in the 50s and 60s : right from Panchayat to Parliament. It’s a daring play and they have thrown the gauntlet right before all other parties in the country. It would in fact be unfair to expect the opposition to just roll over and die. A “world conquest” like attitude runs the risk of making way too many enemies way too soon. It remains to be seen if Modi and Shah have the strategic depth and patience to carefully coax the raucous world of Indian politics into a unipolar ecosystem headed by the BJP.

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26 thoughts on “How BJP’s terrifying growth may become a headache in 2019

  1. Your write-up rekindles my old nightmare – in 2019, ‘Aal Sickular Phorsej’ will gang up together, Modi will manage to get just 271 seats and the rest will form a Maha-Thig-Bandhan with 273 seats ! There will be a concept of rotating PM who will change every month – and loot will commence on such a gigantic scale that the UPA scams will almost seem benign in comparison !

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  2. Your write-up rekindles my old nightmare – in 2019, ‘Aal Sickular Phorsej’ will gang up together, Modi will manage to get just 271 seats and the rest will form a Maha-Thug-Bandhan with 273 seats ! There will be a concept of rotating PM who will change every month – and loot will commence on such a gigantic scale that the UPA scams will almost seem benign in comparison !

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  3. Saw the Odisha results and wanted to post them here but you beat me to it.What is most impressive is that BJP has exceeded it’s 2012 tally in the 1st phase itself.The next phase is apparently in the weak spot of BJD(West Odisha) so BJP can gain even more.I think they have a fairly good chance of finishing #2 in Odisha in the 2019 LS AND state elections.If Cong is kicked out of the top 2 in any state,I think you can write them off in that particular state.

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  4. Odisha is probably the Maine of India.Maine is the most white state in the US and yet,no Republican has won a presidential election there since 1988.Similarly,Odisha has 94 % Hindus and a strong Hindu culture and yet,for some reason,BJP had not made too many inroads there(until now).I wonder why Naveen babu keeps winning.Is it because he is the son of the legendary Biju Patnaik or is it because he is so good or is it because there is simply no other alternative?

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  5. Naveen Patnaik is a bachelor.I wonder who will succeed him after he leaves this world.I wonder if BJD will enjoy the same level of dominance after he is gone and whether it would be a good opportunity for BJP to step it and become the dominant party in Odisha.I know it is not appropriate to talk about someone like this but it would be interesting to see what happens after it happens.

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  6. Mere strategic depth of Modi and Shah would not be sufficient guarantee for repeat mandate for NDA.
    Only ground leval performance and fullfillment of poll promises to the reasonable extent will guarantee Modi against the threat of mahagathbanddhan,voters need not be be impressed by impossible promises or announcement of grand schemes which are not going to be implemented.
    Low profile politicians like Shivraj Singh or Navin Patnaik keep on getting repeat mandate as the voters are convinced of their sincerity and are satisfied with their performance.
    After initial euphoria of 2014 graph of Modi wave is falling due to the failed promises and underperformance in governance on not all but crucial parameters,which is matter of grave concern to all the RW supporters as Modi is the best possible card for Indias resurgence,otherwise we are staring at the abyss of the rule of India by breaking India forces.
    It is therefore imperitive for Modi to make timely course correction on performance front by Modi.

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    1. Exactly why is this guy the best possible card?
      U urself acknowledge underperformance, and also there is complete fraud on Hindutva.
      So if u remove the PM years, he is just another multi term CM like many others running much more difficult states.

      He has been able to fool Hindus because of the reflected ‘glory’ of 2002. There also it was Togadia and VHP. He just latched on to it.

      He is neither an economic or ideological right wing.
      He is a socialist, and fully sekoolar.

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    2. Ramesh, initial euphoria of 2014 Modi wave is not only not falling, it is rising. Did you read about the poll which says 76 percent of Indians believe that the country is going in the right direction. Narendra Modi’s popularity is same, if not increased, since 2014. Mere facts that opposition parties have to resort to Mahagath Bandhan, shows the success of BJP/Modi. For Gathbandhan, many parties will have to swallow pride and give reign in the hand of one party leader as it happened in Bihar, RJD swallowed its pride gave reign to Nitish Kumar. How long their “Coalition Dharma” last? I agree with CW’s fear because the Gathbandhan will robe BJP of anti-BJP votes split benefit.

      I read somewhere that in UP, BJP may have to partner with Mayawati to form government. If so, it will be like in Kashmir not much worse.

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  7. I really want to see how much Cong (I) can contribute to regional parties. In the WB Elections, Cong(I) and Left had an alliance. We see Cong(I) get more seats (44/92) than left (32/199). The alliance helped Cong(I) [vote share increase of 3.2%] more than Left [decrease of vote share of 14.13%].

    If BJP can drive this point to regional parties, they would be wary of allaince to 5% vote share rent….

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    1. Bengal story should repeat in UP with Cong gaining and SP losing compared to 2012 figures. Then only regional parties will avoid alliance with Cong.

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    2. I feel weirdly proud saying this, but West Bengal is a totally different case. Bengalis are obsessed with ideology. A Bihar style Mahagathbandhan would never work in Bengal. The moment CPIM allied with Congress, people of West Bengal saw the ideological compromise. Bengalis could not tolerate that. They heavily punished the CPIM.

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      1. So are Bengali Hindus quite happy and complacent about their state becoming West Bangladesh? Otherwise why are they not openly embracing the BJP, which is the only party that would prevent that from happening? Your insights as a Bengali would be most welcome.

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  8. Dear Chaiwallah and other friends,

    Here are my thoughts.

    1. I think that the fears of Chaiwallah are greatly exaggerated. One by one, the one-person dynastic rule parties are biting the dust, and will continue to do so. Due to their very nature, a one-person dynastic party cannot have a succession plan, other than installing the heir to the throne. Even with an extremely well-entrenched party like the Congress, such a strategy did not last more than three generations, and that was only because the Congress had a stranglehold on the flow of information. But now, with social media replacing the so-called mainstream media as everyone’s source of information, dynasties cannot be sustained beyond one generation. The next one to fall will be Chandrababu Naidu. Already we have seen the TDP failing miserably in Telangana because Naidu cannot be Chief Minister simultaneously in two states. When Naidu gets old, even AP will be up for grabs. Right now the BJP is allied with Naidu, who is a sober and mature partner, so the BJP has no imperative to grow in AP. But once Naidu is out of the picture, make no mistake, BJP will grow in AP too. Similarly, I do believe that Pannerselvam in Tamil Nadu will be like Naidu in AP: notionally independent, but closely allied with the BJP. I do NOT fear a maha-thug-bandhan at the national level in 2019. The egos and lack of vision of all the bit players will prevent that.

    Going forward, once all the one-person parties are wiped out, we will probably see the emergence of a true alternative to the BJP in the form of another cadre-based party. But for their dinosaur ideology, the commies could be that alternative, but that won’t happen. Perhaps the alternative will be a truly pro-Hindu party, to challenge the not overtly anti-Hindu but not also pro-Hindu BJP.

    2. The far more scary scenario for me is the combination of Kejriwal running (or ruining) Punjab, and Twitter India suspending all right-wing voices. Already Sonam Mahajan’s account has been suspended a second time, and AAP may win Punjab. While everyone seems to think that setting up an alternative to Twitter is impossible, that may be the only route forward. That would require someone in the central government to question Twitter India on its blatantly biased policies, and in the absence of a satisfactory explanation, suspending Twitter India’s operations. That would require guts, a commodity in short supply in the government.

    3. Unless Dr. Praveen Patil is spectacularly wrong (which will happen only if, due to a financial squeeze, his team could swing into action only very late), the BJP winning UP is assured. So there won’t be any need for the BJP to ally with the BSP, I believe.

    Feedback welcome!

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    1. Have you ever wondered, how a muslim is running Twitter India. Muslims are committed. Hindus lose track in search of frivolous things like development and other associated nonsense of Nehrus, and Modis.

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    2. I agree…… as in the present and in the future too the control by MSM for information is gone!

      The ‘families’ who used to live as if they are ‘royals’ and the people who voted them being treated as subjects…..this type of ‘families’ will cease to exist!

      MSM was bought buy ‘families’ in power to narrate according to their whims and fancy…..in this era people has stopped trusting MSM!

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    3. Twitter is a private company,and the Govt shouldn’t interfere in it’s functioning.

      As for Twitter,it’s just one platforms out of many in Social Media,and this is just the beginning.There are going to a numerous more platforms and numerous more narratives that are going to materialise. emerging of new platforms and voices will have to be done without Govt or political parties in order to ensure reilable,truly independent organisations and institutions

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  9. Incidentally, it seems Praveen Patil of 5forty3 has been silenced … he has just clammed up, and stopped issuing updates ! After the Dainik Jagran editor, it seems he is being targeted or is under intense pressure !

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    1. I think his lawyers have advised him that what he is doing constitutes exit polling. I wouldn’t call it “being silenced.” The Dainik Jagran editor clearly violated the EC guidelines, which have the power of law, whether we like it or not.

      Anyway it is a good thing that he is not commenting while polling is going on. In this respect I disagree with Chaiwallah that media should be free to air exit polls in-between phases. That would lead to blatantly misleading “polls” put out by crooked media.

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  10. What exactly are the powers of EC? Their main remit is orderly conduct of elections. In the name of ensuring orderly conduct of elections do they have a right to violate fundamental freedom of expression? Electorate has a right to know information about voting trends etc., as this will also enable them to form an informed opinion about who to vote for. Can this right of the electorate be trampled upon in the name of orderly conduct of elections? What is the EC’s reasoning for banning exit polls? If they feel exit polls influence the voters, then it is perfectly legal and valid in a democracy for anyone to give their views which may or may not influence the voters. How can they ban an democratic activity in the name of conduct of elections?

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      1. The problem is not that EC behaves like a dictator – but that it is an extremely biased dictator ! DJ editor can be arrested while NDTV is free to spew venom, Khayawati can make brazenly communal appeals to Muslims and Dalits, Akhlesswa can openly say in Muslim ghettos that he ignores their electricity theft from ‘katiya’ wires … all that is fine, but the moment someone reports an exit poll showing BJP doing well all hell breaks lose 😓

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  11. I have a problem seeing a more pro-Hindu political party replacing BJP in next twenty years and by then, the population of minorities (read: Muslims, Christians) will go up so much that it will be too late for such party.

    Sooner or later, BJP will have to make amendment in Constitution so that the central government can step in to establish law and order in states, like Bengal, Kerala etc. instead of waiting for the state to request help because as the Muslim population keeps on increasing, there will be more and more racial riots. There is a news that in last five years there had been 25000 racial incidents in UP and the central government did not even step in.

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