With a magnificent victory in store in Karnataka, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) could be in power in 22 of India’s 29 states, maximum by any political party ever. The Congress, during the Indira Gandhi regime around a quarter century ago, had ruled in 18 states. However, the number of states then were 25 as Goa, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand and Telangana were formed later.
However, Nehru’s Congress was not less powerful than the BJP of Modi-Shah duo. The concept of states didn’t emerge in India till 1950. Most of the princely states were merged later to form different states. In the 1952 state elections, only a small portion in present day Punjab was out of Congress rule. Nehru’s party won 21 out of 22 state elections. That state of East Punjab was later merged and in 1957, came under the Congress rule. The Congress then had governments everywhere except Jammu and Kashmir where ally-like National Conference was in power.
The impressive performance in Karnataka reaffirms that the Modi wave that swept the General Elections in 2014 and has been painting the national map saffron since remains as strong as ever.
The BJP in 2014, before the Lok Sabha elections, was in power in just seven states, while the Congress helmed 13 states. The four years of BJP rule limited the Congress to just three states — Punjab, Mizoram and Puducherry — something that calls for a serious introspection in the grand old party.
A close look at the state elections results after 2014 suggests that the BJP has dented most of the Congress and regional parties’ strongholds. From driving hard Hindutva in Uttar Pradesh to soft power in Bihar, the BJP has championed the art of staying in power.
Though winning less than the expected seats in Gujarat elections did make the BJP nervous, it notched a stupendous feat by swinging the voters’ mood in its favour in the northeast and forming its first-ever government in Tripura, ending decades-long Left rule. And with Karnataka now in its kitty, the party’s morale is on a high before the 2019 general elections.
After Tuesday’s results, India’s 11 most populous states, as per 2011 census, is with the BJP: Uttar Pradesh (199 million), Maharashtra (112 million), Bihar (104 million), Andhra Pradesh (84 million), Madhya Pradesh (72 million), Rajasthan (68 million), Gujarat (60 million) and Karnataka (60 million)..
However, a series of wins in Assembly elections is no guarantee of favourable results in the General Elections. The party also won a number of state elections before the UPA threw it out of power in 2004. Nonetheless, Congress and other opposition parties need to chalk out a smart and out-of-the-box strategy against PM Modi who, with party president Amit Shah in tow, looks invincible as of now.