The verdict

The BJP has performed unexpectedly well in the elections to the five State assemblies. In UP, exit polls indicate it would emerge victorious but what has happened (322 seats out of 403) is just unbelievable. The SP-Congress alliance and Mayawati’s BSP have been all but wiped out. Even in Punjab the result was very different from what was expected. Exit polls indicated a neck and neck fight between the Congress and the BJP while the SAD-BJP alliance was expected to kiss the dust with just seven seats. Actually, the SAD-BJP alliance has done much better. In fact, it was a neck and neck fight between the Aam Admi Party and the SAD-BJP alliance to occupy the second spot. Both in Goa and Manipur, the real game will begin after all the results are out when the two major parties will stake their claim for government formation. In Uttarakhand the BJP has romped home to power, trouncing the Congress comprehensively.
The UP result is nothing short of a miracle. Since miracles do not happen in the age of science, the Opposition parties will have to coolly analyse the cause of BJP’s victory. The poll results in the five States have also made it clear that demonetization has had practically no impact on the public mind and therefore on the poll results. Demonetization undoubtedly caused distress to the people. Then why was not the distress get reflected in the results?  It was widely believed, and quite rightly so, that these assembly polls were the ‘semi-final’ of the ‘final’ match that will be played in 2019. It was believed that if the BJP won UP, its return to power in the Lok Sabha elections in 2019 will be more or less a certainty. Now the Opposition parties will have to gird up their loins for a very long struggle.
The BJP’s massive victory in UP will be a big shot in the arms for Prime Minister Modi and party chief Amit Shah. Opposition ruled States will be kept on tenterhooks. The ongoing corruption cases against top leaders of some Opposition parties may now be vigorously pursued. The authoritarian trends that were becoming discernible in the functioning of the Government may become more pronounced now. Criticism of the Centre and its policies may become more risky. The Opposition will now have to bend all their energies to go to the people and build living links with them and keeping constant touch with them. Above all, they have to sit down and introspect why things have gone so wrong for them. In particular, the Congress can no longer delay the grooming of a new leadership.

Tuesday, 14 March, 2017