Path To 2019: The BJP Has To Clear Four Hurdles Before The Big National Contest

by Nitin Mehta - Mar 18, 2017 02:32 PM +05:30 IST
Path To 2019: The BJP Has To Clear Four Hurdles Before The Big National ContestNarendra Modi and Amit Shah (PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Does a big mandate for the BJP in 2017 kill every challenge that might come its way till 2019?

    No. There are four hurdles that the party will have to clear before it goes to polls in a couple of years.

It is widely believed in the political circles that a victory in Uttar Pradesh signals what is to come in the national polls a couple of years down the line. But considering the size of the mandate that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has achieved, a section of political thought has already given up hope for the 2019 general election and urged to prepare for 2024.

Keeping the verdict-day rhetoric aside, does a 4-1 mandate for the party in 2017 kill every challenge that might come its way till 2019? No. Like any other political outfit, the BJP will have to cross some hurdles till 2019. The level of difficulty it will face along this path is a matter to be debated another day.

State-level anti-incumbency

Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh go to polls at the end of 2017 or early 2018. Karnataka will undergo the electoral process in 2018. Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh will have elections in late 2018 or early 2019. In four of these six states, the BJP government is incumbent, and in three of the four incumbent states, it will face an anti-incumbency of 15 years or more.

However, what works to the BJP’s advantage is that barring Karnataka, all these states are bi-polar states where there is a direct BJP-Congress battle, and Congress, by all standards, is at its all-time electoral low. This coupled with decent central government popularity ratings, and high favourability of the Prime Minister himself might help the BJP sail through in these polls.

The northeast expansion plan

The BJP for long has made its intentions clear with its ambitious northeast expansion plan. And to its credit, the party, with its ideological parent Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has been working hard to fulfil it. Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur are the latest examples. The next year and the year after will be the litmus test of this presence, since northeastern states like Nagaland, Tripura, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Sikkim go to polls. However, it is too early to say whether they will be able to form the government in all of these states. Going by the current trends, however, a significant level of expansion looks evident.

The GST implementation shocker

The long-overdue economic reform has passed the political hurdle in Parliament; however, it is still undergoing administrative course corrections. This is one reform that has a global precedent of rising inflation in its initial years of implementation. With the 2019 general election just two years away, and the goods and services tax, or GST, roll-out plan still underway, it will take a mammoth communication strategy on the part of the government to politically counter any such price spike before the big day.

The next big, bold step

Keeping its 2014 electoral promise of eradicating corruption and black money from the economy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be expected to take tough measures, something along the lines of demonetisation. If the Prime Minister wishes to successfully sell his new moves, like demonetisation, as “short-term inconvenience for long-term gains”, he and his government will surely have their task cut out.

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