NEW DELHI: The BJP appears to have turned cautious in poll-bound states in the face of the deepening economic slowdown. With internal assessments suggesting the ongoing economic slump could eat into its popularity, the BJP decided to go the extra mile to forge the Mahayuti alliance with a bunch of parties in Maharashtra, including the Shiv Sena.
Barring Haryana where it is counting on the utter chaos in the Opposition space to retain power, BJP leaders sense the party would have to pull out all the stops to overcome the deepening sense of disenchantment among the electorate due to unemployment and farm distress in a shrinking economy in Maharashtra and Jharkhand.
“The common impression from interactions with a cross-section of people in Maharashtra and Jharkhand is their sense of despair, particularly among the youth. The state of the economy will definitely be a big issue in the polls. While no immediate relief is visible from the Centre’s stimulus packages and the RBI interventions, the pains of the economic slump are becoming more apparent,” a senior party functionary admitted.
When the BJP began seat-sharing talks with the Shiv Sena, it was stubborn on contesting no less than 170 seats to build on the gains it made in the 2014 state polls in Maharashtra.
“But when its internal feedback conveyed the growing negative perception among the voters, the BJP dropped its maximalist position and became more accommodative. It’s is now contesting from 150 seats, which is an open admission that the BJP needs allies to retain power,” said another BJP functionary.
Apart from the 150 seats, 14 candidates representing smaller allies like RPI (Athawale), RSP, Shiv Sangram and Rayatkranti, filed their papers on the BJP symbol.
As for the Shiv Sena, it got 124 seats. The BJP feels it is weak in the Konkan region but hopes to increase its footprint in Marathwada.
“As for Jharkhand, the BJP will be banking on the induction of key tribal leaders from the Opposition to boost its prospects,” a senior party functionary said.
The BJP placed its ear to the ground in places like Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur and Kolhapur in Maharashtra, and in Jamshedpur, Santhal Pargana and Bokaro in Jharkhand to get a sense of public perception.
Calculation behind Mahayuti
“The BJP-led alliance has to build social equations to neutralise the farm distress and win the support of Dalits in Maharashtra. The Mahayuti gives the alliance an opportunity to cash in on the solid vote base of each of the constituents to take advantage of the weak Opposition,” according to a BJP functionary
Maha factor in agrarian distress
Maharashtra is the only state in India that has witnessed frequent agitations by farmers over the last five years.
The economic slump has made the voters more grumpy.