BJP hopes of a bigger sunrise in Bengal
BJP is losing votes in the Hindi heartland and is on a weaker wicket in the northeast. That leaves two crucial states in BJP’s calculation which must deliver gains for the party – West Bengal and Odisha.
In West Bengal BJP is targeting winning at least 20 constituencies out of 42. In 2014, BJP received 25.3 percent vote share 10 constituencies, second highest after TMC’S 29.3 percent. BJP hopes to narrow the gap and pull off a win in these 10 crucial constituencies – Kolkata Uttar, Barrackpore, Krishnanagar, Basirhat, Asansol, Maldah Dakshin, Maldah Uttar, Raiganj, Alipurduar, and Darjeeling.
These constituencies have shown signs of anti-incumbency and BJP believes these constituencies hold the key to making an unprecedented base in West Bengal. The Congress and the Left parties continue to languish in the wilderness without any significant leaders to stand up to Mamata Banerjee, and BJP hopes the combination of Modi-Shah will deliver the confidence of a stronger option in Bengal.
BJP has made small gains within some voter groups like the Dalits, and migrant workers from Bihar and U.P and is hoping to pull in Congress and Left votes to support their push further.
Mamata Banerjee’s TMC cadres are continuing their firm grip in the state, but with a significant increase in paramilitary forces in the state for the remaining rounds, Bengal may well spring a surprise for the BJP.
What’s the mood with Dera Sacha voters?
All political parties are making a beeline to Dera Sacha Sauda headquarters in Sirsa in Haryana and with good reason. The Dera continues to retain the support of over 1.2 lakh followers despite their cult leader Ram Rahim languishing in Rohtak jail, serving a 20-year sentence for murder and rape. But that is no deterrent for political leaders starved for votes.
In 2014, BJP won 7, INLD 2, and INC 1 seat. The INLD candidate CS Rori won the Sirsa seat polling 39.59 percent vote share. INC candidate Ashok Tanwar received the second highest vote share of 30.54, and so, Tanwar was one of the first leaders to visit the Dera on 29 April when followers gathered at the Dera to celebrate the Foundation Day. Tanwar held the Sirsa seat in 2009 general elections before losing to Rori in 2014.
Other political leaders too realize the influence of the Dera on its followers and have all made a trip to it hoping to garner support.
Among all parties, Congress could emerge as the favored choice. The management of the Dera is still upset with the BJP for allowing their cult leader to be arrested. They don’t favour INLD, and so by default, Congress is set to win their support.
Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik is tech-savvy and voters seem to love it
If you believe Narendra Modi is the only tech-savvy leader in the Indian political firmament look again. CM Navin Patnaik has unleashed technology to effectively reach out to more voters in the state than BJP has managed in Odisha.
The 72-year old BJD veteran is not at his best health and has limited in his ability to directly campaign, and yet, his personal connect with voters in both urban and rural areas remains intact. So how has the genial, soft-spoken leader managed to best the loud and aggressive BJP in the state?
A fully air-conditioned bus specially configured for roof-top address within the air-conditioned confines of the bus is something that sets Naveen Patnaik apart from the BJP’s approach of direct face-to-face address.
The bus has all the fittings of a movable office with all communication access set up. The CM steps up to the glass-top roof, and a public address system allows him to reach out to voters in the vicinity. His address is short, to-the-point and personal; people seem to love it.
He has used social media effectively this year. Carefully curated videos are sent to voter’s phones offering a glimpse into his informal lifestyle and followed up with a short and humble appeal for support is resonating with the common voter in the state.
To add to this, BJD has deployed vans with large LED screen carrying the CM’s message. These vans are popular and gather crowds wherever they go.
In the end, the voters will decide whether Naveen Patnaik’s approach was more effective or the BJP’s.