BJP’s Hindi heartland performance on test in the 5th phase of polling
Phase 5 will shape the outcome of the 2019 general elections. 51 seats are in contention, but the stakes are higher for the BJP as it must defend 39 seats of 51 it won in 2014. These 39 seats are largely in the Hindi heartland that voted largely in favour of the BJP in 2014.
Let’s take a closer look at the challenge BJP faces in this round.
- In U.P, BJP won 12 of 14 seats.
- In Rajasthan, BJP won all 12 seats
- In M.P, BJP won all 7 seats
- In Bihar, BJP won 3 of 5 seats
- In Jharkhand, BJP won all 4 seats
- In West Bengal, it lost all 7 seats to Trinamool Congress (AITC)
- In J&K, it won one of two seats
For the BJP, in 2014, U.P, Rajasthan, M.P, Jharkhand, and Bihar collectively delivered strong results as part of the Modi wave that swept the nation. That was then.
Today, the BJP has lost ground in Rajasthan and M.P, having lost the assembly elections held recently. Voter trends reveal if a general election is held within a year of assembly elections, voters tend to go with the flow of the assembly election results. If that applies to these elections, the BJP faces a major challenge in at least these two states. Any losses here will have to be made up in other states.
In U.P, BJP has 12 seats to defend, and it won’t be easy with SP-BSP-RLD votes coming together. In 2014, the voters united in the anti-incumbency wave against the UPA II that went in favour of the BJP. In 2019, the voters are polarized along caste and community lines, and a large share of voters who voted in favour of the BJP in 2014 will give their caste and community precedence over ideology. This eats into BJP’s chances. 23 May will reveal the extent.
Same is true for all other states where the BJP made major gains. In 2019, it does not appear to be gaining many seats other than in West Bengal and Odisha, but the numbers won’t be enough to make up the losses in the Hindi belt.
BJP stands a good chance to make inroads in West Bengal but 6 out of 7 candidates in fray in Phase 5 have criminal records, and that may not go down too well with local voters.
PM Modi launches a scathing attack on Mamata Banerjee
Cyclone Fani has brought out bitterness existing between the PM and Mamata Banerjee, the fiery CM of West Bengal. Following the devastation caused by the cyclone in Odisha, the PM visited and jointly carried out a joint aerial survey with the Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik. PM Modi even praised the CM for his efforts at timely measures taken.
The PM claimed to have made similar calls to the Bengal CM but said Mamata Banerjee did not take his call. Mamata Banerjee responded saying the PM had ignored the people of Bengal which was affected by the cyclone.
She further claimed she was on a campaign tour so she could not take his call. In a public rally today, she said she had no intention of sharing a public dais with the PM during campaigning. The bitterness continues between the two.
OP Rajbhar resigns from the Yogi govt – Will it impact BJP’s chances?
Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) leader has not been on happy terms with the Yogi-led BJP government in U.P over seat allocation and party symbol. He claimed to have desired to contest in one seat under their party symbol but was denied. In protest, he had tendered his resignation on 13 April as a cabinet minister in the Yogi government, saying SBSP would independently fight for 40 of 80 Lok Sabha seats.
With two more rounds remaining, this is certain to impact BJP’s fight to defend seats in U.P as SBSP won 4 seats in 2014. The Rajbhar community represent 20 percent of the population living in eastern U.P and is the second largest community after the Yadavs.
KCR meets state leaders to prepares for a Third Front
Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao is sensing the BJP may not have the required numbers and is already making his moves for a Third Front. With elections underway, he reached out the Left front leaders including Kerala CM Pinaryi Vijayan, DMK leader Stalin, Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy with a proposal to forming a Third Front government.
KCR is pushing for a non-BJP non-Congress coalition government, but it will depend on how the regional parties perform. He has earlier met with Bengal cm Mamata Banerjee and Odisha CM Patnaik. It will be interesting to see how equations evolve if Congress delivers better than expected numbers.