BJP Takes Charge Of North East, Says Karnataka Next

Published: March 03, 2018 19:16 IST
Amit Shah, president of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), got a call today that got the pragmatic chief emotional. It was RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat congratulating him on the "Sangh Parivaar" ideological victory in the North East over the Left. And with the BJP decimating the 25-year-old Left rule in Tripura, it has breached the final frontier of those who called it a party of the Hindus confined to the Hindi heartland.

The duo of BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav and Himanta Sarma Biswa, nemesis of the Congress party and Rahul Gandhi, has ensured that the North East has been won methodically, starting with Assam. With an empathetic win in Tripura where it has gone to 42 percent of the vote share from zero, and the Congress has been reduced to a paltry 2 percent, this election is a story of relentless effort by the most formidable election machinery currently in Asia. There is also immense flexibility on agenda, issues and message. The BJP does not even whisper about a beef ban in the North East. Even in Nagaland, the quick change of allies might still see a BJP-backed government installed.
ram madhav agartala celebration pti

BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav said the saffron party wants to "free" Tripura of the CPI(M) "misrule".

The hunger for electoral victory that fires the BJP of Modi and Shah remains in stark contrast to the opposition which, except for sporadic spurts, still seems utterly complacent in the face of defeat after defeat. As far as the Left goes, it is now utterly irrelevant and likely to face oblivion soon, ruling a single state in Kerala which a jubilant Shah said was next on the agenda for conquest.

With Meghalaya still hung, the Congress rushed its best managers Ahmed Patel and Kamal Nath there today, but it still begs the question as to why the complacent party always reacts post the outcome. With Gandhi away in Italy, Patel and Kamal Nath will now take on Shah and his art of closing the deal. The outcome will be interesting. Sarma has already rushed in to "shepherd" the smaller parties to collate the numbers. A frazzled Kamal Nath told me that the "BJP is trying to steal the mandate". It's surprising that the Congress is still surprised as a similar story unfolded in Goa and Arunachal Pradesh.
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Himanta Biswa Sarma, a former Congressman, joined the BJP in 2015

The conquest of the North East is significant - the states account for 24 Lok Sabha seats which will prove extremely handy in the general election as the BJP tally will invariably slip in its strongholds of north and central India where it has reached saturation. The BJP can now also claim that it has ideologically vanquished the Left and this victory came after years of ground work by the faithful RSS cadres. Ironically, the BJP has had to be flexible about ideology in the North East but Shah and Modi are completely pragmatic. Electoral victory is all and it is a zero sum game.

The North East wanted a change and opted to give the BJP a chance. The Congress, which barely fought the elections, was not even a remote contender. It is inexcusable for any party to take such a lackadaisical approach to elections and the voters sensing this punished the party.
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Supporters celebrate election victory as BJP adds Tripura to the growing list of states it rules

Shah today spoke of Karnataka as the next victory for the BJP and if the Congress continues its lacklustre run, evident in the lack of decision-making in Madhya Pradesh where elections are due in December, expect Shah to eat them for electoral breakfast.

As the BJP's magic wanes in the heartland, Shah has conjured up an entirely new constituency - a Herculean achievement. The BJP is miles ahead of the opposition in terms of resources, narrative and a dedicated cadre which provides boots on the ground. This is coupled with effortless headline management - the fleecing of the Punjab National Bank by Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Choksi was immediately replaced with news of the arrest of Karti Chidambaram, son of former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram. The Congress was left scrambling for a defence. And the BJP was back to owning the anti-corruption agenda with a little help from the CBI.
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a rally in Nagaland

While the general elections are still wide open, Shah and Modi have displayed an awesome war arsenal. They don't just want a "Congress-mukt Bharat", they want an "opposition-mukt Bharat."

(Swati Chaturvedi is an author and a journalist who has worked with The Indian Express, The Statesman and The Hindustan Times.)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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