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Posted at: Mar 14, 2018, 5:40 PM; last updated: Mar 14, 2018, 5:40 PM (IST)

UP, Bihar results: Lesson to learn and road ahead for BJP

UP, Bihar results: Lesson to learn and road ahead for BJP
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. — File photo

Vibha Sharma

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 14

Gorakhpur and Phulpur are no ordinary constituencies. Till about a year back the two Lok Sabha seats were represented by the top two BJP leaders in the Uttar Pradesh politics — Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya.

In those terms, Araria Lok Sabha constituency in Bihar may not be as politically significant. It was an RJD win even in 2014 Lok Sabha polls. But the signals emanating from Bihar, which the BJP is currently ruling in alliance with Nitish Kumar-led JD(U), are as significant as UP.

The shift in winds in the Indo-Gangetic plainsthe Hindi/cow belt — as they are popularly referred to as — is loud and clear. Numerically, UP and Bihar account for 120 Lok Sabha seats, almost one-fourth of the 545 constituencies in the country. In the 2014 general elections they had together sent as many as 102 BJP MPs to the Lok Sabha.

Count in the 25 seats of Rajasthan where the saffron party recently lost Alwar and Ajmer it had won in 2014, giving the BJP every reason to be cautious ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections.

UP and Bihar results hold significant messages not just for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls but also the critical Assembly elections lined up in four states this year — Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

What goes in the BJP’s favour is the inability of Opposition parties to get their act together in the state elections. However, leaders admit that the results today have exposed that the election-winning machinery, comprising Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, is not unassailable.

Not just this, today’s results created a shine on the faces of those opposed to the duo in the BJP camp, even if discretely.

Though BJP leaders claim the biggest loser today is the Congress, for NDA allies also it is celebration time. Pushed in the corner by the BJP might in Lok Sabha, allies have a reason to rejoice. The results today have shown the hold of regional parties — Samajwadi Party, BSP and RJD — at the ground level. That the right combinations of regional strongholds can give the BJP a run for its money is something that party chief Amit Shah will ponder when he next sits down to negotiate seat-division with allies.

Therefore a big lesson today also is that going alone in states may no longer be a viable option for BJP and that it will be at a receiving end if the Opposition unites. It is not as if the top leadership was not aware of the ground realities. Gorakhpur and Phulpur are not just an example of caste combinations but also people’s anger. You have to treat your voters with humility. Gorakhpur, which has rejected its five-time MP Adityanath, is a proof, says a top leader.

The very fact byelections were held a year after the seats were vacated certainly shows that the BJP was aware of the situation in UP. With just a year to go for the Lok Sabha means that the winning candidates have very little time to make a mark. The good news is the BJP, which recently managed to break new ground in the northeast, still has a good one year to recover. 

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