Assembly election results of five states — Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry — were declared today. Here are the 10 key takeaways from the election results.
1. India is turning saffron
Slowly but surely, BJP is on its way to be a true Pan-India party. With win in Assam, BJP has got rid of the charge that it is primarily a cow-belt party. India's map is increasingly looking saffron. At present, BJP has governments in 9 states and is sharing power in 4 states.
2. Congress is in free fall
Two more states - Assam and Kerala - are gone. Thanks to speaker's "questionable decisions" and timely intervention by courts, Harish Rawat-led Congress government is back in Uttarakhand but for how long, no one knows. As of today, Congress is in power only in 6 out of 29 states.
3. Rahul Gandhi 2.0 needs an update Nothing seems to be working for Congress - not even Rahul Gandhi 2.0. With catchy phrases like Narendra Modi government is a "suit-boot ki sarkar", Rahul did display fresh thinking after his return from sabbatical last year. But he has become too repetitive and appears to have run out of slogans and ideas. Rahul seems to treat politics as a series of events and not as a process which requires continuous engagement. Thus he is ready to jump into eyeball-grabbing Rohit Vemula and JNU agitations, but reportedly had no time to meet party dissidents from Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
4. Local leadership matters
BJP has learnt right lessons from its drubbings in Delhi and Bihar assembly elections. It has realized that PM Modi's popularity is not sufficient to win every election. Assembly elections are a different ballgame and having a chief ministerial candidate is always useful. PM Modi should be used only as a force-multiplier in state elections. Thus, it was quick to declare Sarbananda Sonowal as its CM candidate. With Sonowal as its CM face, BJP was able to avoid a "Bihari vs Bahari" kind of debate in Assam.
5. West Bengal proves arithmetic can't win elections
Numbers always don't add up in politics. Sometimes, chemistry wins over arithmetic. Rahul Gandhi was a prime catalyst for coming together of Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad in Bihar assembly elections. A RJD-JDU-Congress alliance proved too much for the BJP in Bihar. Rahul's attempt to do a Bihar in West Bengal has come a cropper. Going by Lok Sabha elections, both TMC (39.79%) and Left-Congress combine (39.64%) had almost equal vote shares. However, anyone could see that Left and Congress, which were fighting against each other in Kerala, had kissed and made up in West Bengal just to defeat Mamata Banerjee. No surprise, Mamata Banerjee's chemistry with voters has trumped the arithmetic of Left-Congress alliance.
6. Modi vs who? Rahul, Kejriwal, Nitish and now Mamata Who is going to be the main challenger of PM Narendra Modi in the 2019 general election? With each state election, "Modi vs who" is getting "curiouser and curiouser". Rahul Gandhi will always fancy himself as the "primus inter pares" among Modi challengers. Delhi threw up Arvind Kejriwal. Nitish Kumar looks more focussed on running a not-so-subtle campaign to be the main face of anti-Modi campaign than ruling in Bihar. With her fresh mandate, Mamata Banerjee, if not herself, then would like to have a decisive say in the would-be-PM-candidate of the opposition.
7. Corruption: Not the only issue? If you have other factors going in your favour, you can hope to win elections despite one or two scams tainting your reputation. This may be the reason why Saradha and Narada could not stop Mamata Banerjee from returning to power again in West Bengal. Similarly, the DMK seems to have washed away the sins of 2G scam.
The verdict is mixed here. While Mamata has ducked the anti-incumbency factor in West Bengal, Tarun Gogoi and others have not been that fortunate. Being the CM for 15 years was the biggest handicap for Assam CM Tarun Gogoi.
9. Age is just a number in Indian politics
India is young and everyone talks about its demographic dividend. But what about its leaders? VS Achuthanandan is 93 years old . As per Indian tradition, Achuthanandan should have gone into vanaprastha seeking liberation, but here he is- leading his party to power in Kerala. These state elections might work as an elixir for many nonagenarian politicians. Did someone say LK Advani?
The Great (?) Congress lost all elections because they were led by a LOST leaderOmesh
10. BJP vs regional parties
With no reversal in Congress's fortune, it's increasingly going to be a contest between the BJP vs regional parties. Next year, UP looks set for a fight between BJP vs SP, BSP, Nitish Kumar- led coalition and other parties. As of now, Congress is not in a contest.
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