BJP’s surprising loss in three significant states has sounded the alarm bells for the party. While the Modi magic has been ruling the country since 2014, many believe the invincibility is now starting to wear off. With the 2019 General Elections just a few months away, it looks like Modi’s “good days” (Acche Din, in his words) might be coming to an end. The recent loss is like a trailer of the bigger picture. Dissatisfaction with governance, farmer’s plight, surging prices and unemployment have acted as a bane for the party, routing it out of power. Much to BJP’s chagrin, Congress, the party that had largely been written off as a major player, is making a comeback. And, taking the results of the current elections into consideration, can pose a serious challenge to the BJP in the 2019 general elections, even wresting power from it. But the slipping away of Chhattisgarh from BJP’s vice grip would be hurting the party badly.
2018 Chhattisgarh Assembly Elections
Three times lucky Raman Singh finally bowed out of power after suffering a loss in the recently concluded state elections. The BJP had stormed to power in the state in the 2003 legislative assembly elections winning 50 of the 90 seats and dislodging the incumbent chief minister Ajit Jogi. Raman Singh was appointed the CM of the state and held on to the post for another 15 years winning comprehensively the 2008 and 2013 elections. But 2018 saw the end of a long and fruitful tenure. This time the party was comprehensively defeated by the Congress, which ended up with its best performance ever in the state. Of the 90 seats, the Congress bagged 68 seats, while the BJP came a distant second with just 15 seats. This is a steep decline from the 49 seats the BJP had won in the 2013 assembly elections. Other parties that were able to bag a few votes were JCC (J) (5), and BSP (2).
The final results:
Total Seats: 90
|Party||Seats||Number of Votes||Vote Share|
|Indian National Congress (INC)||68||61,36,420||75.5%|
|Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)||15||47,01,530||16.6%|
|Janta Congress Chhattisgarh (J)||5||10,81,760||5.5%|
|Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)||2||5,51,687||2.2%|
Why was the BJP unable to hold on to Chhattisgarh?
Raman Singh is a popular leader in the state and is referred as ‘chawal wale baba’ because of his extremely beneficial policy of giving rice to the poor for just Rs 1 and Rs 2 per kg. However, his popularity could not prevent the BJP from a crushing defeat. Anti-incumbency and discontent have been cited as some of the reasons for the BJP’s pitiable performance. There was a great deal of distress among the rural population, which was underestimated by the BJP, ultimately losing the party crucial votes and leading to its defeat. Demonetization and implementation of Goods and Services Tax also had a negative impact on the populace, especially the urban voters and small traders, who decided to switch sides this time around.
Despite not having a chief ministerial face unlike the BJP, the Congress was still able to win in the state. Apart from anti-incumbency and discontent some other factors that may have worked in the party’s favour are a slew of people-friendly assurances such as giving farmers a 50 per cent subsidy in electricity bills farm loan waiver and higher minimum support price for paddy.
Nevertheless, the elections have marked a comeback for the Congress which is rejuvenated and highly optimistic about the 2019 general elections. Meanwhile, it is a wake-up call for the BJP, which needs to brace itself up; or else a similar performance at the national level would only spell doom for the party.
Map of Chhattisgarh Vidhan Sabha Constituencies