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2016: A year of buoyancy for the BJP but the real challenge lies ahead in 2017

The year concludes on a note of confusion and apprehension over how Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation exercise will affect the party’s prospects in upcoming Assembly elections.

Written by Liz Mathew | New Delhi | Updated: December 29, 2016 6:07 pm
BJP, parliamentary party meet, parliamentary party executive, Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, BJP meet, BJP meeting, india news, indian express Prime Minister Narendra Modi with BJP President Amit Shah and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley during the Diwali Mangal Milan programme at BJP headquarters. (file photo)

If 2015 saw the BJP suffer several setbacks with resounding electoral defeats in Delhi and Bihar and a series of local elections, the party gained considerable ground during 2016. The year was also marked by the BJP’s confrontation with the Opposition and its clashes with the judiciary, universities or other institutions. The core message to emerge at the half way point of its stint at the Centre is its impatience to implement its core agenda.

The year concludes on a note of confusion and apprehension over how Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation exercise will affect the party’s prospects in upcoming Assembly elections. Five states — Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur — will go to the polls early next year and BJP’s posturing over demonetisation has already made these elections a sort of referendum on demonetisation.

Watch Video | Find Out What Finance Minister Arun Jaitley Said As 50-Day Demonetisation Deadline Nears

Earlier in the summer, the party won a famous victory in Assam, opened its account in Kerala and saw a rise in its vote share in West Bengal – all of which have helped Modi and party President Amit Shah regain confidence after the poor electoral performance in Bihar last year. The party’s showing in Assam and Kerala has also made its ideological parent, the RSS, happy as both states have always been crucial to its ambitions. The victory in Assam is seen as the BJP’s entry point into the north-eastern states and Shah is making a big push in states like Tripura, Arunachal to consolidate this year’s gains. The failure of the Left-Congress combine in West Bengal has buoyed the party and the RSS as they had feared that such an electoral alliance would prove formidable.

Sarbananda Sonowal, bharatiya janata party, Assam, assam cm, BJP assam, Assam BJP CM, Sarbananda Sonowal assam CM, assam elections, Narendra modi, Assam CM live, LIVE SOnowal swearing in, Chief Minister Sonowal, Sonowal news, Assam swearing in, Assam LIVE updates Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the newly sworn-in Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal at the swearing-in ceremony at Veterinary College play ground, Khanapara in Guwahati. (Source: PTI Photo)

Apart from Assam, it won by-elections across the country. The party’s performance in civic polls in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and in most recently in Chandigarh has prompted the party leadership to claim that it has a won a “stamp of approval” for Modi’s demonetisation move and his anti-corruption drive.

However, in another state where the BJP had entered into a historic alliance, the party has faced its biggest challenge. In Jammu & Kashmir, the BJP-PDP alliance suffered a number of setbacks, foremost the political uncertainty after the demise of former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and the violent unrest following the killing of Burhan Wani in July.

Both the state and the central governments have still to recoup lost ground or regain the trust of the people of the Valley. The strains in Indo-Pak relations have worsened the situation.

However, the increasing disquiet within the party over the poor rolling out of demonetisation could spoil its game plan in politically crucial Uttar Pradesh. The good news for the BJP, as of now, is the credibility enjoyed by the PM and the people’s trust in him as a leader.

Narendra Modi, cji, india business, judiciary, india judiciary, Chief Justice of India, T S Thakur, commercial disputes, business commercial disputes, india news, indian express Modi, CJI Thakur at an event in New Delhi. (Source: Express photo by Prem Nath Pandey)

The last 12 months have seen the ruling party and its government at loggerheads with the judiciary and other institutions. While the government and the judiciary continue their turf war over the appointment of judges for the higher courts, both the Centre and the party faced huge embarrassment over the proclamation of President’s Rule in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand—both of which were struck down by the courts.

The central government’s intervention in universities and elite institutions has pitched the BJP against a section of students and lent renewed vigour to students’ politics—the emergence of former JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar as a poster boy is a case in point. Critics say that developments in IIT Chennai, JNU and Hyderabad University were clear indications of the BJP’s eagerness to pursue the “RSS agenda”. The RSS mouthpiece Organiser had written a number of editorials and articles on the need to cleanse campuses of Marxist influence. An editorial in the weekly had justified the crackdown on the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle (APSC), an outfit of Dalit students, saying it propagated “anti-Hindu” and “anti-Bharat” ideology.

BJP’s mishandling of the situation post the Rohith Vemula suicide – its leaders vied with each other in questioning Vemula’s Dalit status – and the public flogging of Dalit youths by self-proclaimed cow vigilante groups have challenged attempts by Modi and Shah to woo Dalits ahead of key elections in UP and Punjab.

At the end of 2016, the BJP cannot afford to rest on its laurels for the real test lies ahead in these forthcoming Assembly elections.

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More From Liz Mathew
  1. C
    Dec 29, 2016 at 5:20 am
    Repect for you Bhakti but 10 pecent Growth only Bhakt can predict. Even after Modi's lobbying Moody is not willing to give positive rating to India under Modi.
    1. Abhishek Dubey
      Dec 28, 2016 at 6:59 pm
      Indian Express is always worried about BJP it does not cares about other political parties as per IE BJP is always facing challengeslt;br/gt;Why dont you analyze about congress
      1. A
        Ajay G
        Dec 29, 2016 at 1:18 pm
        embly elections are decided by local priorities, altogether different than Lok Sabha polls. lt;br/gt; lt;br/gt;Demonetization, as a singular factor, is unlikely to impact voter's choice. lt;br/gt; lt;br/gt;Whatever may be the education level, voter in remotest village is aware enough that MLA is one person more likely to travel to state capital than an MP whose destination is often New Delhi. lt;br/gt; lt;br/gt;Singularly any agenda can decide outcome in New Delhi, nowhere else. lt;br/gt; lt;br/gt;To an individual, Maya or Mamta may be ideal CM candidate irrespective of which political party she represents. To another, Kejriwal or Sidhu or Akhilesh may be ideal CM candidate. lt;br/gt; lt;br/gt;Cast, religion, personal pority of candidate become more decisive in embly elections. lt;br/gt; lt;br/gt;Vemula, JNU, Dalit, Cow hardly have any place now.
        1. A
          Dec 28, 2016 at 9:42 am
          Fact: Before being elected to the office of Prime Minister, Mr. Modi once said that the then PM, Dr. Manmohan Singh, is silent. After becoming the PM, Mr. Modi stopped taking journalists on Air India One, cannot face a press conference or get interviewed by Indian journalists. He said he was traveling like there's no tomorrow to get foreign investment. We haven't seen it yet. Fact: In another speech, he said Dr. Manmohan Singh spoke about poverty at the UN like filmmakers who win awards in foreign film festivals. After becoming the PM, he appointed Gajendra Chauhan in FTII. When he went to the UN, he gave us International Yoga Day but did yoga on Chinese yoga mats on Independence Day. Fact: He claims demonetization is done to help the poor but he has destro the bridge between the middle cl and street vendors. He wants us to use plastic money to make rich businesses richer. He did not consult the elected representatives of the people of India before taking such a drastic decision. Fact: He doesn't know the meaning of OROP. Fact: He doesn't care about the children of daily wage workers who have no money to provide for their children and their parents. Fact: Everyone who said that Mr. Modi would go down on a Hindu-Muslim issue was wrong. He crushed everyone. Fact: Meanwhile, the Supreme Court wants everyone to stand and show respect to the national anthem in movie theaters before a film which has a song like "Shiela ki javaani" is pla. Fact: Yes, we are all very confused about what's going on. It seems like inmates are running the place!
          1. D
            Dec 28, 2016 at 1:09 pm
            we indians are bold and face the challanges in world. modiji is bold. ofcourse bjp will win . people who died in que , sorry for it.but they sacrificed and died in hope that india will be correption free, gotala free, chor free, human trafficing free, terriorist free,, we surrived and sacrificed and struggling to clean the system in our mother land india.lt;br/gt;people still have sympathy for AAP/MUMTAZ BENGALI, RAHUL KHAN, ARE POLITICAL TERRIORIST.....THE REAL SUFFERING WE CAN SEE ALL THESE POLITICAL PARTIES CRYING AND CRYING BABIES.
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