‘Upcoming Assembly Polls Do Not Augur Well For BJP’

Ramsharan Joshi, a seasoned journalist, author and academic, says the NDA is on a shaky wicket in Rajasthan, MP, Chhattisgarh and Telengana

Vasundhara Raje Scindia is the only popular face of the BJP in Rajasthan. She has been a chief minister twice. And she commands the loyalty of 30 to 40 MLAs who are totally committed to her. No one can easily replace her despite the best efforts of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.

In recent times, she has been challenging the central leadership of the BJP. She has never succumbed to the pressure of either Modi or Shah. This proves that she has a sizeable  following in her state.

She has been sidelined since long by the new dispensation in the party. I am told that Modi does not even mention her name in the rallies, even in her presence. As is the case in Madhya Pradesh, with Shivraj Singh Chauhan. There have been reports that Shah did not even look at her when she went to welcome him in the airport. Now, Shivraj is asserting himself, claiming that he will be the next chief minister, when it is well-known that he is simply not the first choice anymore in a state ridden with anti-incumbency.

For the first time perhaps, the BJP in Rajasthan is badly faction-ridden. There are groups within groups. Clearly, the party is feeling jittery, and so is the top brass in Delhi. One of the faction leaders has been sent to Assam as a governor to stop the inside-struggles for power.

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I vividly remember the BJP leading from the front with Bhairon Singh Shekhawat as its unilateral and popular leader. I have never seen such dissidence within the party in the past.

Recently, reportedly, a meeting was arranged between various factions. Shah and JP Nadda had to go there. Nothing could be resolved in this acrimonious atmosphere with all factions sticking to their guns, including Vasundhara. It apparently went on for eight hours or so. Finally, a disappointed and unhappy Shah and Nadda had to fly back to
Delhi in the wee hours at 3 am.

This reflects that the BJP in Rajasthan is not exactly toeing the line of Modi and Shah. Indeed, minus Vasundhara, the party has no chance to make it in the coming assembly polls. Undoubtedly, she will play her game.

My sources in Jaipur tell me that she might be demanding 30 to 40 seats for her committed followers. Or, she might even choose to leave the party – that is, if her wish is not granted to her.

Both, in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, MPs and central ministers are being pitched as candidates in small MLA constituencies. If this is not a reflection of their desperation, then what is this? According to sources, Speaker Om Birla is being pitched as one of the next chief ministerial candidates. The problem is that even in his own constituency of Kota, he does not command a mass following!

Shivraj Singh Chauhan has been a CM for almost two decades. Besides, he is an OBC leader. The BJP is trying to get rid of old war horses. Raman Singh seems to have disappeared in Chhattisgarh!

In a recent rally Shivraj Singh Chauhan seems to have openly challenged Modi. He is fondly called ‘Mama’ in MP. He declared, “Will Mama form the next government?” The audience shouted, Yes! This seems to be becoming his rallying point in the campaign. 

The Congress has a clear edge in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, given the current mood and scenario in these states. Their share of seats might come down. It might be tight in Rajasthan, but given the factions in the BJP, the Congress has an advantage. Besides, Ashok Gehlot is himself an OBC – a Maali. And, now, he too has declared a caste survey – so the religious polarization card will simply not work!

In Telengana, the latest opinion poll gives 44 per cent to the Congress and only 32 per cent to BRS. With several leaders ditching the ruling party here and joining the Congress, it seems a sticky wicket for KCR. The BJP is down below in the graph, as it is now in entire South of India. Even the AIADMK has left them in Tamil Nadu. The BJP seems to be bereft of any effective ally all over India.

Finally, the results of the assembly polls will seriously impact the chances of the BJP in 2024. The theory that polling patterns in the assembly and Lok Sabha polls are different is not always true. Especially, when it is the one-dimensional personality of Modi, which is being pitched as the only and ultimate leader — even in local and regional polls.

(The narrator has worked across the Hindi heartland and travelled across the world on reporting assignments. His books include Yaadon ka Laal Galiyara: Dantewada, Pratibimban: Vyakti, Vichaar aur Samaaj, Aadmi, Bel aur Sapne, Apno ke Paas, Apno se Door, Navudarvaad ke Daur Mein, among others. The translated version of his latest book, his autobiography, The Bonsai of my Time, was released in Delhi early this year.)

As told to Amit Sengupta

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Ajith Pillai
Ajith Pillai
7 months ago

Very informed and balanced analysis. The winds of change is there for all to see.

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