Assembly election results: Lessons BJP and Congress need to learn

Written By: Arun Anand
Delhi Updated: Oct 24, 2019, 08:02 PM(IST)

File photo of Sharad Pawar Photograph:( Zee News Network )

Story highlights

If Congress wants to revive and challenge BJP, it needs to keep Rahul Gandhi far away. If BJP wants to win back Delhi and retain Jharkhand, it needs to review its organisational outreach at grassroots level 

The results of Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana should set the  BJP leadership rethink about their ‘winning’ formula. Do they need to reinvent this formula as it doesn’t seem to be working as effectively in the state assembly polls as it has worked in the national elections.

A key takeaway from these poll results is that people in India vote differently for the assembly and the parliamentary polls. While at the national level, the national leadership and the ideology of a party have a decisive impact on the poll outcome, in Assembly polls there are multiple factors that influence the poll outcome such as local leadership, ticket distribution, caste, number of parties that are contesting, profile of individual candidates and tactical understanding between different players in multi-cornered contest. But most importantly, it is the anti-incumbency that plays a significant role in assembly polls.   

On all the above parameters, the performance of the BJP has been credible. It has turned upside down the key political dictum of Indian politics i.e. most governments have to be voted out of power after one term. In most of the states where the BJP has captured power, it has been able to make a comeback, even if with reduced numbers. It is a significant achievement and it underlines the fact that people believe that the BJP tries to provide good governance. In some spheres, it is able to deliver and in some spheres it is not.

But overall, the BJP has been able to build an image of a party that is concerned more with governance and less with the self-interest of the individuals. If one looks at the Assembly results of both Haryana and Maharashtra from this perspective, one would be able to understand that how the BJP lost some seats in both the states but still remains the most preferred party.

Another important takeaway from these poll results is that the Congress Party needs to shun Rahul Gandhi completely if it is interested in revival. It is clear from these poll results that Congress has performed much better than even its own expectation. One of the primary reasons for this performance is the stepping down of Rahul Gandhi. It is a well-known fact that Rahul Gandhi had backed Ashok Tanwar in Haryana and not BS Hooda.

The latter was backed by Sonia Gandhi after she again took over the reins of the Congress recently leading to exit of Rahul loyalist Ashok Tanwar. And it is former Chief Minister BS Hooda who has spearheaded the revival of Congress in Haryana. 

The Assembly poll results would surely lead to the next round of power struggle within the Congress as the old guard is likely to strike back with greater confidence after the party has performed well without Rahul Gandhi. One of the possible outcomes of this revival of the old guard could be the comeback of Rahul as the Party President much sooner than expected as he is likely to feel more and more insecure in days to come. It would be interesting to see how long Sonia can protect him from this power struggle.

Meanwhile, the BJP also needs to go back and rethink about the gap between expectations and actual performance on the ground.  The party needs to review where did it go wrong in Haryana and how it could have improved its tally further in Maharashtra.  The formidable organisational network of the BJP has become probably vulnerable at the local level in certain places and the party need not overlook that.

The party also needs to rethink about the utility of high decibel campaigns. Such campaigns are effective only when they are backed by organisational outreach at the grassroots level. It seems that many ‘members’ or ‘party workers’ didn’t do the task assigned to them at the grassroots level.

There was intense infighting in the party units in both the states. The same situation prevails in the state of Jharkhand and Delhi also which are going to go to polls soon.

It remains to be seen now, which of the party’s learn from these polls and do not repeat its past mistakes. If the Congress wants to revive and challenge the BJP, it needs to keep Rahul Gandhi far away, if the BJP wants to win back Delhi and retain Jharkhand, it needs to review its organisational outreach at the grassroots level and control infighting within its state units.

It also needs to look at some of the distress signals in the economic sphere that affect day to day lives of the common people. The BJP must not forget amidst its high decibel campaign that ‘for a hungry man, utopia is a world full of food.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL) 

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