Assembly elections have been billed as the ‘semifinal’ to the Lok Sabha elections in 2019.
By the end of the day, the results of Assembly elections in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram, Rajasthan and Telangana will be known. With that, we would know how many states the BJP retained in the Hindi hinterland, and if Congress retained its last bastion in the northeast and also whether TRS managed to hold on to the newly carved Telangana or not.
These elections have been billed as the ‘semifinal’ to the Lok Sabha elections in 2019 and they may well be that. If the results are clearly in favour of the Congress, we would be able to safely say that Congress has made a strong comeback after being routed in many elections since 2014.
If, however, the BJP manages to retain even two out of the three states it presently rules, it would mean trouble for Congress and a body blow to its chances in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The third scenario is that the verdicts in these states are split, which is quite possible given that there is massive anti-incumbency against the BJP.
If results are in favour of the Congress, it would mean its president Rahul Gandhi has finally delivered and could be given the sobriquet of ‘Pappu pass ho gaya’ by his adversaries. For the BJP, the invincibility of Modi-Shah, which has been taking a hit since Gujarat elections, would finally be shattered for all concerned.
However, one factor which will remain unchanged at the end of the day is the renewed campaign by the VHP for the construction of the Ram temple. Whether or not the BJP triumphs today, the Sangh Parivar has made up its mind to up the ante on this issue and has been making categorical demands to the BJP-led central government to bring in an Ordinance or a legislation to build a ‘grand Ram Temple’ at the disputed site in Ayodhya.
Political observers have been speculating that the BJP is unlikely to repeat its performance of 272 seats in the Lok Sabha in 2019, and that to retain its core constituency, the party has to fall back on its reliable agenda of Ram Temple and minority appeasement by parties like the Congress. Moreover, the demand for a legislation for Ram Temple is likely to put the Congress in a tough spot as it can hardly afford to be seen as either opposing it or overtly supporting it.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)