Amid BJP's victories, some cheer for Cong

The dynasty criticism also didn't click in Gujarat.

The BJP has won both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, but the party’s top bosses are likely to be less excited by these Assembly results than they might have desired. Far from the nation striding down the path of a Congress-mukt Bharat — an India freed of the Congress, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah have sought to demonise as the source of all that’s bad — the results show the Congress has managed to retain a position of respectability.
For the BJP, this can’t be a happy augury in view of the looming big 2019 Lok Sabha contest, for which these two state polls — and the half-dozen others on the horizon next year — are a dress rehearsal. There’s another matter of significance. Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who assumed charge on the eve of the results, has come through a trial by fire in Gujarat.

The BJP’s attempts over the years to systematically lampoon him and degrade his worth through a dedicated social media campaign has come apart. The dynasty criticism also didn’t click in Gujarat. In Gujarat, the BJP had publicly declared it was working to get 150 seats. Its tally is way, way lower, though it won for the sixth time. The Congress’ rise in seats in Gujarat is almost dramatic, as is the voting percentage, which rose by around 15 per cent benchmarked against the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, and around eight or nine per cent against the 2012 Assembly polls, as the BJP’s percentage fell. This has happened despite the RSS-BJP’s well-oiled organisational machinery compared to the Congress’ almost non-existent organisation, and in spite of the roughly 40 election meetings that Mr Modi — a master of rhetoric and political theatrics — had addressed, campaigning as though his life depended on it. Today, many will ask: What if Mr Modi had not campaigned with the same ferocity and the BJP had to rely primarily on its state leaders?

There’s also another point to consider: Repeatedly, Mr Modi spoke about Gujarat’s pride and “asmita”, which he hitched to his own fate. Will such a tack work in other states? Of course, these questions gain salience only if the Congress under Mr Gandhi’s leadership can show a continuing spirit of revival. In Himachal Pradesh, the Congress and BJP alternate in power and it was the BJP’s turn this time. The Congress has been defeated but not routed, as some predicted. In fact, the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate, Prem Kumar Dhumal, appears to have become a victim of factional warring. On the whole, in both states, both parties have come away with something to smile about — in the BJP’s case, wistfully. The emerging signs of a new politics are not imaginary.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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