— By Abhishek Chakraborty
BJP swept the 2014 polls under Modi wave. The saffron map of 2014 reminded us of the previous saffron map under the great Marathas during the 18th century. Such a success by any standards was unprecedented given the way BJP led NDA swept the Northern and Western regions of the country. Such a mammoth success is not possible to replicate for BJP led NDA. With less than a year left for the Lok Sabha elections, BJP’s chances of retaining absolute majority looks thin. Let us have a state by state analysis of the same.
Western India (Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu) — 132 seats
During the 2014 elections, BJP led NDA bagged 124 in this region with Congress and NCP getting the remaining 8 seats. As things stand now, this region looks to be Achilles’ heel for BJP and play a major role in preventing BJP from reaching the magic figure.
With BJP facing a major anti-incumbency in Rajasthan and having suffered bye-poll loses in Alwar and Ajmer parliamentary constituencies, it is expected to suffer massive losses in Rajasthan. Vasundhara government has over the years become hugely unpopular and can affect BJP’s prospects. However, with the joining of Kirori Lal Meena and the assumption that the opposition Congress’ unit is also a divided house, BJP still can salvage some pride. It can also bank on Modi’s impact in the marginal seats to swing to its way. Given all these, BJP is all set to lose 15 seats in the state unless the charisma of Modi pulls off a surprise.
Things are however a little better in the neighbouring state of Madhya Pradesh. Mamaji unlike Vasundhara, is still quite popular, even though BJP is also facing close to 15 years of anti-incumbency in Madhya Pradesh along with the Vyapam issue that blew up out of proportion. In the past few bye-elections, the only shocker has come in the form of the loss of Ratlam-Jhabua Lok Sabha seat to Congress which anyways has been a traditional Congress bastion like Guna and Chhindwara. However, a potential alliance with the likes of Bahujan Samaj Party and Gondwana Gantantra Party (GGP) can topple his Apple Cart. A potential Bihar like Mahagathbandhan between Congress, BSP and GGP, which seems likely can affect BJP in many seats. But still BJP can hold onto majority of the seats. I guess BJP’s tally can still be around 18-20.
Gujarat, which has seen Assembly Elections a few months back, however tells a different story as compared to the Assembly polls. Even though, Congress was received well in the Saurashtra and Kutch regions primarily due to the Agrarian crisis that was faced by these regions, and in North Gujarat due to the agitations by the likes of Mewani and Hardik, Lok Sabha 2019 elections might not provide such impetus to Congress. With BJP’s acceptance in the urban areas of Gujarat peaking up during the assembly elections, BJP looks all set to near replicate its 2014 success with 23 seats.
If a state where BJP has grown the maximum in the Western India, it is the state of Maharashtra. The growth of BJP in this state has made it the only pan Maharashtra party other than Congress. Under the able leadership of Devendra Fadnavis, BJP has conquered most of the fortresses of Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP. But this ambition of expansion has also antagonized their oldest ally Shiv Sena as the growth of BJP has also occurred somewhat at the expense of Shiv Sena. With Shiv Sena putting up candidate in the recently held Palghar Lok Sabha bye election against BJP and Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav constantly ranting against BJP in almost every speech, things are looking sour at this moment between these two parties. On one hand UPA has formed an alliance with NCP and Swabhimani Paksha, if the alliance between BJP and Shiv Sena breaks, this could spell doom for both these parties with Shiv Sena becoming the worse sufferer of these two. Hence two situations could likely to emerge in terms of alliance. If BJP ties up Shiv Sena along with smaller parties like RPI (A) and RSP, they could again sweep Maharashtra by bagging as many as 38-40 seats. In the absence of any tie up, BJP and Shiv Sena are likely to get 14-16 and 6-8 seats respectively, thereby allowing the UPA to get as many as 26 seats. This could be the biggest loss for BJP/NDA in the whole of Western India and could virtually end the hopes of NDA 2.0.
As far as the other regions are concerned, among the four seats, BJP likely to retain at least 3 with one loss might be coming from Goa.
So all in all, out of the 132 seats in this region as things stands now, BJP if ties up with Sena can give NDA anything between 92 to 97 seats which makes a potential loss of 27 to 32 seats. Things could be worse for them in the absence of a tie up as that could even lead to a further erosion of another 15 seats.
(Abhishek is an assistant professor at XLRI.)