J&K, Jharkhand Assembly election results: Narendra Modi's juggernaut to continue?
Nobody can deny it. It has been more than a fabulous year for the BJP. Absolute majority in the Lok Sabha polls, followed by absolute majority in the Haryana Assembly polls and becoming the single largest party for the first time in the Western state of Maharashtra.
And it looks like the good times for the saffron party are going to continue. If the exit polls are to be believed, the BJP is poised to form the government in Jharkhand. Most of the polls were unanimous in forecasting an absolute majority for the BJP and its ally - the All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU) - in the tribal-dominated state, giving it somewhere between 37 to 61 seats in the 82-member Assembly. If this were to happen, it would be the first time that a party, along with its ally, would be getting majority on its own in a state that has seen only coalition governments till now since it was formed in 2000.
Also, if BJP wins in the state, it would be another personal victory for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Some of the experts did say that it is due to Modi that the BJP could reach near the figures predicted for the party in Jharkhand. Just like he did in Maharashtra and Haryana, the PM devoted a chunk of his time campaigning in both the states, exhorting the people to vote on the plank of development. And the party too left no stones unturned to base their campaign around their most popular leader at the moment, knowing fully well that it would fetch them votes. Plus Modi and party president Amit Shah were able to stem the factionalism that the BJP was confronted with in Jharkhand.
On the other hand, it will, in all likelihood, be a déjà vu for the Congress. Most of the exit polls have given the alliance of Congress, RJD and JD(U) somewhere between four to eleven seats, clearly suggesting that the so-called coming together of the anti-communal forces against the BJP may not have worked in Jharkhand. If Congress sinks once again in these Assembly Elections, one can only imagine how desperately it must be wishing 2014 to get over.
However, as far as Jammu and Kashmir is concerned, then, in all likelihood, the BJP will have to wait for next chance to fulfil ‘Mission 44’ and create history. If the exit polls are anything to go by, there will be a hung Assembly in J&K with the PDP doing well in the Valley, the BJP gaining in Jammu and the ruling National Conference on its way out. As usual, the scene is once again looking dismal for the Congress, with most prediction giving it four to ten seats.
But even if the BJP is not getting a majority on its own in the border state in these polls, which realistically speaking nobody expected them to do so, it will still be a victory of sorts for them. Most of the exit polls have predicted somewhere between 16 to 33 seats for the party with the PDP getting somewhere between 32 to 41 seats in the 87-member Assembly.
If the figures mentioned above turn out to be true, the BJP, for the first time, would emerge as the main Opposition party in the Muslim-majority state. (In case, the BJP joins hands with PDP to form the government, the scenario would be all-together different.)
This in itself will be a huge boost for the saffron party in a state where it was by and large a fringe player. In Lok Sabha polls too earlier this year, the BJP had won three out of six seats in the state. This will also mean that under Modi and party president Amit Shah, the rejuvenated BJP is consolidating politically in state after state. And doing well in J&K will be icing on the cake for the party even if it gets its chunk of the seats from the Hindu-dominated Jammu region.
J&K was always on top of the list as far as the Prime Minister is concerned. He wasted no time in rushing to the state in the aftermath of the devastating floods, spent his Diwali there and held rallies in those areas in the Valley where no top national BJP leader had campaigned ever or at least in a long time. He also steered clear of mentioning Article 370 during the course of the campaign and instead focused on issues like corruption, development, jobs and good governance. Probably he wanted to do well there in order to be truly called a pan-India leader and be seen as somebody who is accepted by all communities.
Thus, favourable results for the BJP in J&K and Jharkhand will set the tone for the upcoming polls in Delhi early next year and Bihar later in 2015. It will also force the Opposition, including the Congress, to think hard and out of the box to stop the juggernaut of the BJP, or should we say the man of the moment – Narendra Modi.