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Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Maharashtra and Haryana Results Keep BJP on Tenterhooks

After the landslide victory of the BJP in Lok Sabha elections just 5 months back in Maharashtra and Haryana, the BJP juggernaut has been halted in the state elections where the opposition has made a revival after being in disarray just a few months back.

In Maharashtra, the BJP has been forced to yield ground to its boisterous ally, the Shiv Sena, which will demand its pound of flesh in the coalition and keep BJP on tenterhooks.

In Haryana, with the much hyped “Abki baar, 75 ke paar” falling flat, the BJP is forced to adopt the coalition dharma with a fledgling offshoot of its political rival. The Khattar government was hoping to piggyback on Modi’s popularity and Article 370 apart from a beleaguered opposition. However, the electorate has made a clear distinction between the parliamentary and state elections.

Thus, whereas in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections the BJP had a resounding victory in Haryana, 5 months down the line its state government could not even muster a simple majority in the 90 member house. 8 sitting ministers lost their elections which was a reflection on their performance or the lack of it. Only Khattar and health minister Anil Vij could save their seats.

The BJP had to also suffer the ignominy of its State President Subash Barala being trounced by a political greenhorn from the JJP which will now be the coalition partner of the Khattar government. Politics makes strange bedfellows. When the move to romp home a tainted MLA Gopal Kanda along with other independents, who was brought in a chartered flight to Delhi, drew flak from all and sundry, disgruntled Chautala scion’s fledgling party which won 10 seats was brought on board by the BJP.

The situation would have been worse had the Congress not delayed handing over the reins to Bhupinder Hooda in the state. Hooda along with Selja was able to rally the party cadres which were in total disarray just a few months back. This was the first election after Modi’s steamrolling of the opposition in May 2019 and the abrogation of article 370 by Modi 2.0.

The elections in the 2 states has redefined the way the country’s politics is heading. While the people have reimposed their faith in Modi overwhelmingly in the Lok Sabha, the electorate is holding the state governments to task for their deliverance on the ground. Local issues and caste politics are still dear to the voters when it comes to the state elections and national narratives are consigned to the backburner as we saw with article 370 which failed as an election issue.

In Maharashtra, Sharad Pawar’s NCP emerged as the surprise package. Sharad Pawar, who is under the ED scanner struck a chord with the voters by raising issues related to farmers, sugarcane prices and negligence of the rural voter, was able to raise his party’s tally by almost 30%.

The BJP is forming the government in both the states but will have to do a delicate balancing act like a trapeze artist in keeping the show going in both the states. Perhaps they could take a leaf out of of late Prime Minister Vajpayee’s tenure who was a master of coalition dharma.

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Aman Gupta
Aman Gupta
Political Editor, Samast Bharat magazine


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