NEW DELHI: The massive Lok Sabha victory has made the saffron party hungry for more. Even before the swearing-in ceremony of its government in the Centre, the BJP has started preparing for the 2019 elections.
The long march would start with the upcoming Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana to “wrest” control of these states from the Congress.
With Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi at the helm, the party will go all out to install its governments in the states going to polls in the next a few years. In 2015, Bihar, Jharkhand and Jammu Kashmir are going to polls; Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry will go to polls in 2016, while Uttar Pradesh, Manipur, Punjab in 2017. The BJP hopes that it has a fair chance in most of these states.
The stunning turnaround in Uttar Pradesh Lok Sabha polls, scripted by Modi’s close confidant and BJP general secretary Amit Shah has only added to the party’s hopes in the upcoming polls.
A little maths would explain the euphoria in the saffron camp. Maharashtra added the second highest number of seats to the BJP’s kitty -- 42 out of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in the state were won by the NDA. The BJP and allies polled more votes in 240 out of the 288 Assembly constituencies.
A similar story was repeated in Haryana, which has never been the BJP’s strong point. In Haryana, the BJP won 7 Lok Sabha seats out of eight where it contested elections. Its ally the Haryana Janhit Congress lost the two seats it contested. The BJP and its ally were ahead in 62 out of the 90 Assembly constituencies.
With two-thirds majority in Assembly constituencies, the BJP wants to strike while the iron is hot. Haryana goes to poll in October and Maharashtra in December.
“We have begun the preparations. The strategy will roll after the swearing-in ceremony on Monday, as by then it would clear who all are part of the government,” a senior leader told Express.
“Three factors have revived our hopes. The new voters, the Dalit and backward castes who had deserted us in the past have veered towards us and the shift towards Modi have contributed to our success in Maharashtra. We would work on the same model. Add to that, the anti-incumbency of 15 years of the Congress-NCP rule,” the senior leader added.
The latest results may also alter the BJP’s equations with its partner Shiv Sena. In the past, the Shiv Sena played big brother by cornering most of the seats.
In the 2009 Assembly polls, the Sena contested 171 seats and the BJP 117. But the BJP managed to get two more seats.
“There will be a tweaking of this ratio. The BJP has emerged stronger,” the leader said adding that the Raj Thackeray-led MNS has been marginalised.
The BJP and its allies have not declared its chief ministerial candidate. Sources said Gopinath Munde, who won the Lok Sabha elections from Bheed wanted to return to state politics. His role would be clear after Monday. If he is in the Cabinet, then he may not be projected as contender for the CM’s post, a party insider said.
Sources said Amit Shah may be tasked to strategise Assembly elections in Maharashtra given its complex caste structure.
“We did a social engineering by allying with RPI, and other smaller parties that paid rich dividends. We won in regions like Marathwada, Konkan, Vidharbha, and even in South Maharashtra which were Congress and NCP strongholds.”
UP’s success had provided template for the Assembly elections. “(Amit) Shah reached out to the Dalits, OBCs and religious groups that were traditionally not approached by the BJP. 3D rallies and Raths showing Modi’s speeches were taken to areas not touched by TV. Even volunteers were asked to touch base with these people,” a party responsible for elections in UP said.
If Maharashtra follows the Uttar Pradesh model of campaign, it would be slightly different in Haryana.
“In the Jat-dominated politics of Haryana, the voters always like to have party and chief minister belonging to the ruling party in the Centre. This makes sense as the Centre has a role to play in providing impetus to agriculture and control MSP for crops,” a senior BJP leader said.
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