With the BJP scripting a history by defeating Congress in Assam, the Left routing Congress in Kerala and the return of Trinamool Congress and the AIDMK in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu respectively, the country has given a mixed mandate this time. While the non-performing and corrupt governments in some states were rejected, voters clearly preferred the development plank of incumbent governments which promised to usher their states in a new era of growth and prosperity. Here are the key takeaways from these elections.
Rise of BJP
BJP's emphatic victory in Assam holds big significance as it is now on its way to become a party with a pan-India presence. By defeating Congress in Assam, the saffron party has also got rid of the tag that it is primarily a cow-belt party. This also indicates increasing saffronisation of the Indian electorate. At present, BJP is in power in 9 states and is sharing power in 4 states.
Congress' free fall continues
With two more states slipping from its hands, the Congress party is increasingly becoming more and more invisible. After losing, Assam and Kerala, Congress is now in power in six out of 30 states. Of these six, Karnataka is the only state of considerable size, importance and politics. The Grand Old Party is surely shrinking in spite of some gutsy showing in Tamil Nadu, which even raises a serious question mark on Rahul Gandhi's future - should he be elevated to Congress president's post or the time has come to hand over reins to Priyanka?
Rahul Gandhi Vs Priyanka
The Congress party's debacle in Kerala and Assam will strengthen the clamour for bringing Priyanka Gandhi at the centre-stage. Rahul Gandhi, who had recently employed noted election strategist Prashant Kishore, badly needs a makeover. However, at the moment, nothing seems to be working for the Congress vice president. Despite attacking the Modi government with catchy phrases like "suit-boot ki sarkar" and ''the fair and lovely scheme',' Rahul did display some fresh thinking after his return from sabbatical last year, but with his habit of pushing only quick eyeball-grabbing incidents like Rohit Vemula and JNU agitations, he has proved that he is in fact a ''reluctant politician''.
Local leadership Vs Modi card
After its electoral drubbings in Delhi and Bihar, the BJP has learnt this lesson the hard way. The saffron party has finally realised that not all elections can be fought and won just because of Prime Minister Modi's popularity. The party has, it appears, accepted that even Modi is not invincible. The BJP leadership has in fact scripted a historic win in Assam by not overplaying the 'Modi card' to the hilt. It has realised that having a chief ministerial candidate is always useful since assembly elections are a different ballgame. Hopefully, the BJP will use PM Modi only as a force-multiplier in state elections and not as its main face in future. Its decision to declare Sarbananda Sonowal as its CM candidate has borne fruit in Assam.
Trinamool Congress' impressive victory in West Bengal has proved that no election can be won just by cobbling up a formidable alliance to oust the ruling party. Unlike Bihar, where the ''Mahagathbandhan'' won last year, the coming together of arch-rivals like Congress and Left failed to make a dent in Mamata's bastion. The alleged smear campaign of Congress and Left actually benefited Mamata whose chemistry with voters trumped the arithmetic of Left-Congress alliance.
Modi Vs Nitish, Mamata
Mamata Banerjee's resounding victory has boosted her prospects of becoming Third Front's possible Prime Ministerial candidate. She too had indicated her readiness for a bigger role at the national politics. If this happens, then she will be among those who harbour the ambition of challenging PM Narendra Modi in the 2019 General Elections.
However, the non-BJP front will remain divided over a unanimous choice to challenge Modi since Rahul Gandhi will remain top pick for Congress and the Third Front having to choose between Nitish Kumar and Mamata for the top job. Not to forget Arvind Kejriwal, who has always pitted himself against PM Narendra Modi.
Development overrides Corruption
The Indian electorate has matured enough to understand what is in the best interest of the state and the country as a whole. Like other factors, corruption too took centre-stage in states like West Bengal but this was not enough to dislodge the Trinamool Congress government from power. The Opposition's smear campaign against Trinamool Congress based on the Saradha scam and Narada sting video scandal failed to dissuade local voters in West Bengal who voted Mamata back to power for a second stint.
While popular leaders like Mamata Banerjee and J Jayalalithaa managed to beat the anti-incumbency factor in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu respectively, others like Tarun Gogoi were not that lucky. Being the CM for 15 years was the biggest handicap for Assam CM Tarun Gogoi.
Age no bar in politics
It is said once a politician always a politician. At 92, Left veteran VS Achuthanandan is a classic example of this. Ideally, Achuthanandan should have retired from active politics at this age, however, he led his party to victory single-handedly in Kerala. Achuthanandan's victory might work as an elixir for many nonagenarian politicians like LK Advani.
BJP Vs regional parties
With Congress's fortune on the decline, it's increasingly evident that it will be BJP Vs regional parties in the future electoral contests. An emboldened BJP will prepare for a multi-cornered contest with Mulayam's SP, Mayawati's BSP, and Nitish Kumar-led coalition in Uttar Pradesh where Assembly elections are due next year.