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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Daily briefing: BJP wins 4 of 5 states; what’s next for Congress; and more

After a high-octane electoral battle, make sense of the day’s news and ideas. We guide you through what’s happening — and why it matters.

Written by Rounak Bagchi , Sonal Gupta | New Delhi |
Updated: March 11, 2022 9:10:28 am
Top news on March 14, 2022

Good morning,

In a resounding endorsement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policies and his party’s “double-engine” electoral plank, especially in main battleground UP where Yogi Adityanath was seeking a second term, four of five states that went to polls returned the BJP to power. Elated, PM Modi said he hoped “political pundits, who did not think much of the party’s 2019 win, will have the courage to say that the 2022 results have decided 2024”.

It took them five years, but AAP has surely bounced back from infighting, mass desertion and losses in every subsequent poll in the state since then, to claim the largest mandate in recent years in Punjab and trounce the Congress as well as SAD. AAP has marked a tectonic shift in national politics, winning 92 of 117 seats in Punjab with a vote share of 42.1 per cent, up from 20 seats and a vote share of 23.7 per cent last time.

It is premature to write the epitaph of a party as old as the Congress, which still has a pan-Indian footprint. But the resounding rejection of the party in the Assembly elections poses the worst crisis it has ever faced, as well as the big question: where does it go from here? From running the country in 2004 and even being in power in nine states in 2014, the Congress is worse off than it was 24 years ago — it is ruling in only two states, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

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Explaining what the Assembly election results reveal, P B Mehta writes: “The results of the five assembly elections are a further consolidation of the momentous changes in Indian politics over the last decade. The results in UP are a spectacular win for the BJP, consolidating its power and ideological hegemony over Indian politics. It sends a plain and simple message: Politics, in the end, is a game of competitive credibility and the BJP simply has no competition.”

Emboldened by its victories, the BJP has begun strategising for the next elections, claiming that it starts planning for the next on the same night that the results for one come out. With the results being widely seen as an endorsement to the BJP’s welfare politics, party sources say they would focus on consolidating its new “vote bank” of “women and beneficiaries of welfare schemes” to consolidate them further. We take a look at what the road ahead looks like.

From the Front Page

With the Congress once again staring at a crisis of credibility and leadership, many veterans, represented by the G-23, said this was a we-told-you-so moment. “I am shocked, my heart is bleeding to see our defeat in state after state,” said CWC member Ghulam Nabi Azad.

The BJP, riding on the planks of ‘peace and development’, is set to return to power in Manipur for a second straight term, hitting the majority mark by itself. The Congress, on the other hand, has been decimated in its once-bastion — from being the single-largest party with 27 seats in 2017, the party managed to win a mere five seats. The BJP’s victory signals that it has been able to successfully hold its own in the often-fickle electoral landscape of Manipur.

In Goa, the BJP is set to form the government with support from the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and three Independent candidates. Congress leader P Chidambaram noted: “The overwhelming majority voted against the BJP, but their votes were split among many parties, which gave the BJP the opportunity to win 20 seats.”

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Despite AAP’s victory in Punjab, BJP leaders have dismissed the party as a “threat to BJP” at the national level. Leaders have, however, pointed out that the AAP’s “strategies and its methods” are similar to that of the BJP in its pursuit to become a “party with a development agenda”.

One of the key takeaways from the BJP’s victories in four states, is this: Of the two ambitious political projects that were launched almost simultaneously in the politically turbulent 1990s, Mandal and Mandir, while the second is on its way towards achieving its aim of forging a national community that transcends faultlines of caste, class and region, the first has fragmented.

And Finally…

The second Test between India and Sri Lanka will challenge players in ways the red-ball Test in Mohali didn’t. Though day-night Tests with the pink ball have become mainstream, a sense of mystery still lurks. These are early days to sketch conclusive patterns, or that there are no discernible patterns, apart from the consensus that they are bowler friendlier than the traditional wine-red cherry.

Delhi confidential: After Congress’s disastrous performance in the Assembly elections, many of the central leaders have come under attack. Some have argued that Ajay Maken, who was the head of the screening committee to pick candidates in Punjab, and AICC in charge of the state Harish Chaudhary, will have to do a lot of explaining for the party’s rout.

🎧︎ In today’s episode of the ‘3 things’ podcast, we discuss the reasons behind BJP’s win, what the AAP’s victory means for its national ambitions, and the lessons that the Congress needs to learn.

Until tomorrow,

Rounak Bagchi and Sonal Gupta

Business As Usual by EP Unny

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