After the terrible drubbing BJP faced in Delhi and Bihar, Amit Shah seems to have revived his Midas touch capturing power in Assam for the first time and opening an account in Kerala.
Neither of these two achievements can be understated as the North East and South of India have traditionally eluded the BJP, remaining in the tight grip of Congress, Left or Regional parties.
The masterstroke played in the form of getting powerful local leader Hemanta Biswas Sarma on the BJP side and thus cracking the formidable Tarun Gogoi-Sarma combo meant that Assam could fall in the saffron party’s lap.
While Amit Shah managed the mechanics of getting Hemanta on board and aligned with Sarbananda Sonowal, it was RSS’ Ram Madhav who planned the architecture of BJP strategy in the state and exploited the alienated local populaces’ sentiment against migrant minorities.
This may also explain the poor showing of AUDF whose leader Badruddin Ajmal also lost his Salmara South seat.
The BJP also worked on the emotional complex that Assamese people have developed of being the underdogs with one of the lowest per capita incomes in India. The promise of help from Narendra Modi’s government at the Centre may have proven to carrot to better their lot.
In neighbouring West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee has proved naysayers wrong by winning a thumping second term. Her focus on rural India and stronghold on municipal corporations meant Trinamool Congress continued to be seen a grassroots party that had dislodged years of misrule of Bhadralok.
Undoubtedly, the work that she has done in rural West Bengal came in handy as people saw roads and electricity as tangible signs of development, not to mention the freebies she has been handing to minorities, poor and youngsters. These helped to obviate any potential negative effect that may have accrued to the Narada sting, Saradha scam or the Kolkata flyover collapse.
Meanwhile, the tactic to join hands with the Congress backfired on the Left which was divided about the alliance in the first place. Not only did those who followed the Communist ideology get confused, they also felt cheated.
The result - Left has been reduced to worst ever numbers while Congress has gained voteshare at its expense.
The only state that “Left is left” with is Kerala where the shrewd old timer VS Achuthanandan continues to entice voters at the ripe old age of 92! It is yet to be seen whether he will become the Chief Minister or that Pinarayi Vijayan will hold reins, but one thing is clear that if Achuthanandan wants to lead the government, it will be very difficult for the party to decide on the contrary.
It was a double whammy for the Congress led by Oommen Chandy who not only faced anti-incumbency owing to several corruption charges including the Solar panel scam, he had to deal with in-party fighting especially over distribution of tickets to tainted MPs.
The surprise that has sprung up is in the form of BJP making inroads into Kerala’s political map, thanks largely to the relentless work done by the RSS in the state.
The Assembly Elections 2016 story can be summed up only by Amma’s spectacular performance in Tamil Nadu where AIADMK has trounced the DMK to win a second consecutive term, an unmatched feat since MGR’s days.
Call it J Jayalalithaa’s charisma, the connect she has made with the electorate as a resolute lone female fighting the world, or the incomparable sops that she offers to those who have put their fate in her hands; the crux of the matter is that she has today gained the stature her mentor once had.
The sorry state of Congress that is being chipped down bit by bit is another major inference that can be drawn from the political mood in the country. The Grand Old Party has been reduced to a pale shadow of its former self, having lost 6 states in last two years.
It looks more or less irrelevant in any state that has a strong regional party, even as it has been dwarfed at the Centre.
How the party will come out from its ICU state is a pertinent question. The only given is that Rahul Gandhi cannot be the doctor!