The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has come true on its word of winning 4-0, but not without surviving two scares. Though the BJP has swept the states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, Aam Admi Party (AAP) lingered perilously close to BJP numbers in Delhi for Harsha Vardhan to breathe easy. Even Raman Singh suffered a fright at the hands of Ajit Jogi led Congress in Chhattisgarh before easing into a victory.
What has come out crystal clear, once the dust settled at the hustings, was that the Congress has been booted and packed out fair and square.
Delhi: The emergence of AAP
In Delhi, the Congress has been trounced like never before in post-Independent history. A single digit figure of seats in the 70-member assembly elections means its curtains down for one of the most charismatic and illustrious chief ministers of Delhi – Sheila Dikshit.
Even before Delhi voted, the mood at the Delhi Congress office and lack of visible support from the Gandhis by way of public rallies was an indication that the party was not expecting a fourth term for Mrs Dikshit. In all fairness, it is difficult for any party to overcome anti-incumbency of three terms, but what made the task even tougher was that the party was facing double anti-incumbency owing to the nearly 10 years of UPA government at the Centre.
The overwhelming sentiment against the Congress owing to sky high prices, high-profile Nirbhaya gang-rape which indicated women’s security concerns and several corruption scams tumbling out of the cupboards drove nails into the coffin of Sheila Dikshit’s hopes. One poll survey even showed that the sentiment against the central government was higher even than the anti-incumbency wave against the Delhi government.
For the BJP, the shock has however come from the AAP, which Nitin Gadkari had mistakenly, in his hubris, dismissed as a “Chillar” party. Mr Gadkari would have to eat his words now.
The Congress had been equally trivializing of AAP with Sheila openly scoffing the ‘man from Ghaziabad’ who woke up one day and thought he would take Delhi. Arvind Kejriwal must be feeling vindicated now for his double victory – his party has not only stormed Delhi (even if it has emerged as the second largest party), Kejriwal has personally trounced Sheila Diskhit in New Delhi by 25864 votes.
In the New Delhi parliamentary constituency which comprises 10 assembly seats, again AAP is the biggest winner. No wonder it has garnered an impressive over 30% of total vote share, which has even dented the BJP vote share besides gobbling most of Congress’ votes.
Besides underestimating the AAP clout, possibly the BJP lost some ground due to the confusion over the chief ministerial candidate with Vijay Goel being projected first and then the relatively low profile Harsha Vardhan being declared later – just 45 days before Delhi voted. People also did not come out full throttle for the BJP due to the party’s poor delivery at the MCD level, which was one area that could have galvanized grassroots further.
AAP, on the other hand, captured the middle class imagination with its anti-corruption and Janlokpal movement, and then went ahead to woo the poor masses with the promise of power tariff cuts and 700 litres of water to each household.
What may have gone against them could be two factors – one, last minute fence sitters may have bet on old trusted hands of BJP compared to AAP, and second, the sting operation could have taken away a few seats from the AAP including that of R K Puram where Shazia Ilmi suffered a narrow defeat.
Delhi Assembly Elections: Full Results -
Detailed Analysis of Delhi results:
Rajasthan: Historic win for Vasundhara Raje
The ace for BJP has been its huge triumph in Rajasthan, where it has won a decisive verdict and a historic landslide victory. For Vasundhra Raje Scindia success could not have been sweeter, as Congress has been delivered its worst ever post Independence defeat in the state.
While Rajasthan has a history of rotating-door governments – it throws out incumbent governments every time – no one imagined that Congress would get less than 25 seats in the 200-seat assembly.
Particularly so as Ashok Gehlot was the one man who launched all the pilot welfare schemes in the state that Sonia Gandhi had engineered and pushed.
It is well known that Rahul Gandhi had taken more than keen interest in state, even vetting candidates lists and allocating tickets.
Despite such close interest and scrutiny of the Gandhis, the BJP’s saffron is awash across the state. BJP has made huge gains in the Marwar region and in the North. The Congress has also suffered a terrible debacle in the Mewar-Haroti area which is supposed to be its stronghold, and even in the eastern belt BJP has done better than last time.
Besides anti-incumbency, the Gehlot government has been hit by charges of corruption and nepotism. The CM’s name has been personally dragged in the mining scam with allegations that his son has gained from contracts. The sleazy Bhanwari Devi murder case involving a Congress minister was also talked about and splashed in the media for months, again eroding the credibility of the government.
However unlike Sheila Dikshit, Gehlot has been able to retain his Sardarpura seat. Purely in terms of vote share, and also unlike Delhi where Congress has lost a major chunk of its vote percentage, in Rajasthan comparatively Congress’ vote share has suffered less erosion with Independents/Others losing more ground.
Narendra Modi seems to have been a certain fact in BJP’s victory here as the party’s prime ministerial candidate was generous with his time in the state, addressing several well turned out rallies. The reverberating chants of `Namo Namah` at regional BJP offices in the state acknowledged his stamp on the election victory.
Rajasthan Assembly Elections: Full Results –
Detailed Analysis of Rajasthan results:
Madhya Pradesh: Shivraj pulls out a hat trick
The other big success story for the BJP has been that of Madhya Pradesh. Clearly, the credit for this goes to only one person and that is the current Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. He is the man, who after 10 years of rule has turned what would have been anti-incumbency into a pro-incumbency wave.
What is remarkable is that not only has he been able to hold on to power, he has even improved his margin! This mostly never happens.
A quiet unassuming personality, Chouhan had been praised to the moon by L K Advani, who had given him a back handed compliment of being better than Narendra Modi for delivering without bragging.
And as much as both would like to deny it, the fact remains that with his third tenure in Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh is now the next tallest leader after Narendra Modi and his closest competitor within the party.
How exactly has Chouhan been able to pull off the spectacular show is anyone’s guess but most of everybody gives him credit for good governance and skilful administrative abilities.
His pro girl child and women’s schemes made an instant connection with the people who perceive the CM as an honest man with integrity despite his own cabinet ministers being involved in scams and sex scandals.
A part of the Congress youth brigade, Jyotiraditya Scindia, who had been handpicked by the high command to lead the party campaign in the state obviously failed to make the mark. For one, the people seem satisfied by the government, and two,the Congress campaign was marred by self-destructive factionalism.
So while the BJP did better than the Congress in Bundelkhand, it also did better than the Congress in Chambal which is considered a stronghold of the Scindias.
Elsewhere as well, and particularly in Mahakoshal and Malwa regions, BJP made huge gains. Only in Vindhya Pradesh did Congress gain where BJP had swept previously.
However, both the parties seemed to have improved their vote share with Independents surrendering their turf.
Madhya Pradesh Assembly Elections: Full Results –
Detailed Analysis of Madhya Pradesh results:
Chhattisgarh: The close contest
Like in Madhya Pradesh, BJP’s Dr Raman has won a third term in Chhattisgarh, but the margin over rival Congress is narrower as compared to the other states that went to polls, and the tallies were a close call throughout the day when votes were being counted.
Congress put up a better than expected performance under Ajit Jogi who is a well established scheduled tribe leader of the state.
What may have worked is what is called the ‘Raman effect’, which indicates clean administration and pro-people’s policies. The cadre and the people were also energized by the blitzkrieg campaign of Narendra Modi, whom many want to see as the next prime minister of the country.
However, the one factor that has adversely impacted the prospects of Raman Singh has been naxal violence, which wiped out a large chunk of the top leadership of the Congress. The killing of the 32 Congress members may have brought some amount of sympathy vote for the Congress and negative vote for the BJP, with people blaming the CM for mismanaging the security situation.
What comes out in a more pronounced manner is the fatigue that people are experiencing with the Maoists, for locals came out and voted in large numbers despite a boycott call by the Naxals.
The results of this are visible particularly in Bastar (barring Bijapur) where BJP has lost and Congress has gained, a pattern similar to the way people have voted in the north of the state. BJP has, on the other hand, done better in the non-tribal areas mainly of central Chhattisgarh.
Like most of the other assemblies where elections were held (barring Delhi), both the parties have gained vote share at the expense of Independents/Others.
Chhattisgarh Assembly Elections: Full Results –
Detailed Analysis of Chhattisgarh results:
The overall picture that emerges from the results is that the people have voted against the Congress and have specifically vented their anger against the now increasingly unpopular UPA government at the Centre.
The party has not only failed to decisively win in areas that are dominated by lower classes, which are its traditional stronghold, it has suffered serious reverses in urban centres that it had wrested from the BJP in the last Lok Sabha elections.
As much as the Congress spokespersons would want to attribute the results to their collective failure, the defeat lies at the door of the Sonia-Rahul duo more than anyone else. Rahul, despite his active participation in polls, especially in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, has failed to produce any results.
The biggest lesson however comes from Delhi - it has taught us all to never underestimate the underdog.
After all, AAP are wearing the biggest smiles today.