From the Viewsroom

Unstoppable BJP?

Anand Kalyanaraman | Updated on January 15, 2018

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Not really. Don’t forget the anti-incumbency factor

The BJP’s stupendous win in UP has stunned many, Omar Abdullah included, into handing over the 2019 general election to the party. The Modi juggernaut is unstoppable, it seems. But this conclusion discounts the complexity of the country and the adaptability of its political parties. It also perhaps reflects an overwhelmed reading of the recent election results. While Modi’s appeal no doubt helped the BJP sweep UP and Uttarakhand, massive anti-incumbency also played a key role. This factor was on display in Punjab and Goa as well, where the Modi magic didn’t quite work and the ruling BJP lost ground. It’s another matter that the BJP, despite trailing the Congress in Goa and Manipur, has still captured power in these States. In 2019, it is the BJP that will face anti-incumbency — both at the Centre and in the States it governs. Voters, if displeased with their performance, will vote with their feet.

Next, the opposition parties, some facing existential crises, will likely do whatever it takes to upend the BJP. Quite possible is a tie-up in UP between the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress, akin to the JD(U)-RJD-Congress mahagathbandhan that trounced the BJP in Bihar in 2015. Akhilesh Yadav’s conciliatory noises towards arch rival Mayawati after the UP polls signal what could lie ahead. A grand coalition could give the BJP a run for its money. Similar tie-ups could take shape across the country. The Congress will also hopefully get its act together by going for deep changes, including possibly in its leadership.

It’s significant that the BJP, despite the inroads it has made in the past few years, is still a minor player in many parts of the country such as Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal. It is unlikely the picture will change drastically in the next two years. Ergo: 2019 will not be a cakewalk for the BJP. Picture abhi baaki hai.

Senior Assistant Editor

Published on March 21, 2017

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