NEW DELHI: To repeat a cliché, the BJP celebrated Diwali four days ahead of the festival of lights. And they did it with gusto, bursting crackers, and even bands playing music at the party’s central headquarters’ Ashok Road in Delhi.
The bold gamble played by BJP chief Amit Shah to go solo in both states paid the party rich dividends.
“See what happened in Haryana. The Haryana Janhit Congress (former BJP ally) was giving us 45 seats (out of 90 seats). We won 47 seats. We did not break the alliance we only demanded our fair share. It was our our internal affair, the way we want to expand the party, and how we do it,” Shah told reporters.
Flanked by state election in-charges Rajiv Pratap Rudy (Maharashtra) and Kailash Vijayvargiya (Haryana), Shah attributed the success to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“The elections have proved, he is the nirvivadit (undisputed) leader of the country. People who doubted saying Modi wave has receded can see that it has turned into a Tsunami,” the BJP chief said about his mentor.
It’s a stamp on the work by Modi’s four-month-old government and the steps taken to address people’ problems, he added.
Shah twisted the knife further into the Congress, which had suffered humiliation in the elections “The Congress may not get even a Leader of the Opposition post in Maharashtra and Haryana,” he said.
In both states, the Congress has finished in third position.
Since Shah had taken over, victory has been projected by the party as also a vindication of his micro-management skills.
“We had never fought more than 26 seats in Haryana and only got four seats during the last elections. This time we have won 48, and over 33.3 per cent of votes. Similarly, in Maharashtra, we never contested more than 119. This time, we contested 253 and won 122,” the 49-year-old BJP leader said talking about his conquests.
Shah stated that the BJP CMs would assume charge soon.
In its hour of glory, the BJP chief nuanced his position on forming the government in Maharashtra, where it was still short of 22 seats.
“The Nationalist Congress Party has said they will support us unconditionally. An outside support, not alliance,” Shah said in an apparent message to its erstwhile partner Shiv Sena, with whom the BJP still appeared open for alliance, but on its own terms.
The current victory has firmly cemented Modi-Shah rule in the saffron party.
In anticipation of results, the BJP had made elaborate arrangements at the BJP office making space for the TV channels to conduct their day long discussions.
The Mighty Fall of Political Giants
The fierce Maharashtra Assembly elections saw the fall of some giants.
Vaibhav Naik of Shiv Sena, the young district chief in Sindhudurg defeated former Industries Minister Narayan Rane of Congress in his bastion of Kudal by a margin of more than 6,000 votes. Such is the impact of the defeat that Rane, who never faced a defeat before, indicated that he would retire from electoral politics. Vaibhav in 2009 had switched over to Shiv Sena from the Congress with a sole aim to defeat Rane, who was an accused in his uncle’s murder case but was late absolved by the court.
Manda Mhatre of BJP defected from the NCP and joined BJP to take on a powerful minister of Labour, excise and environment Ganesh Naik. Mhatre had dispute with Naik over his consistent ‘negligence’ of her work. Riding on an influence created by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaign Mhatre defeated Naik by more than 2,000 votes.
Suresh Bhole of BJP, a newcomer in electoral politics, defeated 10 time MLA Suresh Jain of Shiv Sena in Jalgaon. Jain, accused in a housing scam, contested the election from Central Jail in Dhule. Though he has been behind the bars for three years, his assets have gone up by Rs 100 crore in this period. The BJP got an opportunity to contest in this constituency after it snapped ties with the Shiv Sena.
‘NCP Backing BJP a Political Suicide’
The RSS has redflagged the NCP’s proposed support to the BJP to form government in Maharashtra, calling it “political suicide”.
Senior NCP leader Praful Patel said that his party would “help” the BJP form the government as it has emerged as the single largest party in the state. With 122 seats, the BJP emerged as the single largest party, but fell short of 22 seats to the majority.
A top RSS leader said that the organisation would oppose to the BJP’s any move to get closer to the NCP. He claimed that their opposition to the NCP was not political, but ideological. To argue, he mentioned that it was NCP chief Sharad Pawar who had coined the term “saffron terrorism”.
The RSS leader has some reasons to believe that the BJP would listen to the organisation. According to him, the BJP could win three seats -- Thane, Dombivli and Kalyan (West) -- purely because of its cadres’ efforts. “The BJP’s organisational set up is very weak in these areas. If our cadre had not taken active participation in the campaign, the BJP would have lost these seats. We have a right to advice the BJP,” he said.
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has made it clear that he would not initiate to send a proposal to the BJP to form the government.
The Architects of Victory
The BJP’s historic performance in the Maharashtra Assembly elections is thanks to a combination of Prime Minster Narendra Modi’s charishma and the team work of the party’s state leaders. The party has registered its highest-ever tally of 122 seats, almost three times of its 2009 tally of 46.
State BJP president Devendra Fadnavis and senior leader Vinod Tawde had taken the responsibility of planning the party’s strategy in this election. They had focused on five points –corruption, the deteriorating law and order situation,inflation, non-governance and policy paralysisin – in the campaign.
While Fadnavis drew the roadmap for strengthening the organisational network, Tawde ensured that the party took an aggressive stand against the Congress and the NCP in public.
They both played an important role in convincing the party’s central leadership that breaking the 27-year-old alliance with the Shiv Sena would work in the party’s favour. Fadnavis had better coordination with the party’s central leadership in running the campaign. Tawde said that managing the election was a learning experience for him.
“Most of the times our meetings to chalk out the strategy would go up to 2 am. We all were physically tired but did not allow that to affect our morale,” he said.
Tawde, who addressed 68 campaign rallies all over the state, refused to give credit to any individual for the party’s victory.
“We missed the valuable guidance by [the late Gopinath] Mundeji. We all worked as a team to fulfil his dream. And of course, Modiji’s wave was there,” he said.
A bigger task is awaiting them now. They have to get the arithmetic of the government forming right and choose the party’s ministers wisely.
“There is no doubt that the next Chief Minister will be from the BJP. We will deliver a clean and efficient government,” Fadnavis said.
While the BJP swept Haryana, its aggressive campaigning was courtesy of Kailash Vijayvargiya, the Haryana BJP in-charge who was brought in from Madhya Pradesh.
Sources in the party said that Vijaywargiya, Madhya Pradesh Urban Development Minister, who was made the in-charge for Haryana just before the elections, had two unique traits. He preferred to sing bhajans to convey messages to party workers, instead of lengthy speeches and rejuvenated the party cadre with one mission -- that we can do it.
National secretary of the BJP, Dr Anil Jain, was jointly in charge of the Haryana campaign. His main work was selecting party candidates so that the party can take a final call on them. During the election campaign, he had to decide the venues and manage all the rallies of star campaigners, including party president Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, besides others, said party sources. Another person who helped the saffron party win the elections in the ‘jatland’ is BJP’s Joint General Secretary (Organisation) Shiv Prakash, who played a significant role in bringing party workers together as a cohesive team.
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