The Lok Sabha elections 2019 turned out to be a game changer for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and allied parties. Though BJP was the favourite, no one had imagined the saffron party to emerge as the single largest party to get the clear mandate in the polls especially after the dismal performance in assembly elections held in five states in December 2018. The Congress managed to snatch Hindi belts Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan from the grip of BJP. But, the grand old party failed to reap the benefits from its recent win in three states. The blame game started with leaders putting blame on each other for the defeat.
Fingers were also pointed at former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi who himself lost from Amethi, the bastion of the Congress, to BJP’s Smriti Irani. However, arithmetics is different for national polls and assembly polls. No doubt, polarisation has played an important role in BJP’s win in Lok Sabha elections, only time will tell if the same factor will secure a win for BJP-Shiv Sena in Maharashtra Assembly elections to be held in October this year. Urban and rural masses are different and so are their issues. It is important to understand the nerve of rural population, understand their issues and prepare a strategy to deal with their problems.
During Lok Sabha polls, BJP had worked at the grassroots level to penetrate polarisation and it was evident right from its campaign planning to reaching out to masses and converting votes into its favour. However, the issues at the national level differ from the regional level. In Maharashtra, Ram Temple or Hindutva may not win polls for BJP in State Assembly. Issues like farm distress, drought, unemployment are at the forefront and the ruling party needs to provide a possible solution to these problems in their manifesto.
First of all, communal politics and lynchings under the garb of cow vigilance are completely unacceptable and the party is answerable for any such misadventure by its workers.
Another factor is of terror accused Sadhavi Pragya Singh Thakur. Though she has won the LS polls, BJP’s decision to field a terror accused from Bhopal LS seat did not go down well with the minorities and its repercussions could be seen in State Assembly elections and is likely to go against the ruling party. The saffron party needs to change its image from a hardcore Hindu outfit to an ‘all-inclusive’ party to prove its slogan of ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ in reality.
Secondly, in national politics, people did not have an alternative to Modi as the next prime minister. In opposition of grand alliance, there were many faces eager to stake a claim for the PM’s post. While in Maharashtra this is not the case. The Congress-NCP combine can give a tough fight to the BJP-Sena but before that, they need to ponder over the reasons for their dismal performance and need to take corrective actions to turn the tables for themselves.
No doubt, the leadership of Congress is in question with dynasty politics taking centre stage. Even Priyanka Gandhi Vadra could not spell any magic to turn voters’ mandate in favour of the party which is certainly a sinking ship and needs a strong captain for a safe and smooth sailing. It is time to revive the grand old party and party veterans should understand that the majority of the country’s population is below 35 years and only a young leader can understand the needs of the youths, who can relate themselves with their leader in terms of age, aspirations and fulfilment of their dreams.