Will BJP consider early polls after North East wins?
New Delhi: The election results of Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland, the three north-eastern states, provide the much-needed boost to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as it gears up to major electoral battles in the run-up to general elections slated for 2019. The year ahead will witness grueling electoral battles in Karnataka, Mizoram, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
The BJP’s sweep in Tripura is breathtaking as it bags 43 of the 59 seats, leaving its arch ideological rival the Communist Party of India(Marxist) with barely 16 in an Assembly of 60. The state had been under the sway of the communist party for the past 25 years and its Chief Minister Manik Sarkar is looked upon as a man of integrity, known for a Spartan lifestyle. With the drubbing in Tripura, CPI (M) has only Kerala under its belt and the southern state has an uncanny habit of voting out the incumbent government.
The BJP had no representative in the outgoing Tripura Assembly. The rise of BJP in the north-east underlines the importance of Ram Madhav in the party’s strategy making and ability to put together a winning formula. Himanta Biswa Sarma, who fine-tuned party’s strategy for the three States, will also see his stock rising in the party that he joined after falling out with the Congress last year.
Though Nagaland and Meghalaya have seen hung Assemblies with ample space for deal making, the BJP is better equipped to cobble together the required numbers in coming days. The developments should not come as a surprise considering the Centre always has an upper hand in the sensitive border states. In many ways, the Congress has itself to blame for emergence of BJP in Tripura and Nagaland, where it showed no enthusiasm for a fight. Some of its candidates withdrew from the fray due to lack of support and funds from the central leadership.
Realising that situation could worsen, the Congress has rushed Ahmed Patel, Patel and Mukul Wasnik to ensure that party does not lose the initiative as had happened in Goa and Manipur last year.
With virtually no political challenger visible to the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the national scene, will the ruling party now exercise the option of calling general elections ahead of schedule along with the state Assembly results due later this year? Though the pros and cons of such a move have been deliberated in the past few months, it has to be seen whether BJP will bite the bullet and do so.
The Prime Minister may take a final call on the issue in coming weeks.