INC win big in run-up to Indian General Elections
On Tuesday, the results for the elections of five Indian states were announced. The significance of these elections cannot be overstated.
Collectively, the states represent a large share of the Indian population and includes large states such as Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
More significantly, these elections were pegged as the semi-finals before the all-important Indian General Elections set for May 2019. In three of the five states, the battle was primarily between the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Congress (INC). In the other two states, Telangana and Mizoram, the state parties dominated the political landscape. Following a brief review of the results, this piece will analyse the results and its implications of the results on the 2019 general elections.
Snapshot of the Results:
Rajasthan: The Congress scored a victory here but considering the strong anti-incumbency against the BJP and the state’s history of alternating the party in power, the Congress should have won more seats and a more decisive win.
Madhya Pradesh: Audiences were glued to the television as the results of this race came in. At the time of writing, the Congress was expected to inch ahead of the BJP who was in power for the past 15 years. However, both parties captured the same percentage of vote share.
Chattisgarh: The state proved to be an unexpected landslide victory for the Congress. With this victory, the Congress toppled a BJP government who were in power and expected to win another term. The win was decisive with a lead of 10 per cent of the vote share.
Telangana: The Telangana Rashtra Samithi, a party with a strong presence in the state scored a strong victory. While the BJP and Congress both also competed in the election, they were not able to make much of an impact.
Mizoram: The Mizoram National Front wrestled power away from the Congress with an emphatic victory. This loss has completely erased the Congress from being in power anywhere in the north-east.
The results can be viewed as a win overall for the Congress who won three states away from the BJP in the central part of the country known as the Hindi Belt, a BJP stronghold. While it did lose power in Mizoram, the party will not lose too much sleep as the state has only one seat for the general elections. But scoring well in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh will be a good sign especially since it builds on the momentum following a good showing in the Gujarat elections, and a coalition win in Karnataka this past May.
Tuesday also marked exactly one year since Rahul Gandhi took over the reins of the INC from his mother Sonia Gandhi. The BJP’s ascent to ruling 22 out of 29 states following its decisive 2014 election results coincided with a crisis of leadership within the INC. The Mood of the Nations survey shows Gandhi’s favourability in the polls is growing and is now only 10 points shy of Prime Minister Modi. In January of 2018, the difference was 17 percentage points.
In addition to the resurgence of the Congress and a coalescing of regional parties, the BJP and Prime Minister Modi’s image have suffered from agrarian distress, rising costs of commodities and missteps such as the implementation of policies such as the Goods and Sales Tax (GST) and the demonetization. These are all possible national level factors which contributed to the BJPs poor showing, howeve,r the BJP as a party has rushed to the defence of the Prime Minister attributing the losses to regional factors.
The Congress now has to deal with two related problems in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. The first is the ability to govern with a razor-thinn majorities and the second is the internal fight over which individual will take the reins of the state as the chief minister. The party is spoiled for choice in both states as there are several qualified candidates. The choice of one candidate over the other could lead to infighting which could jeopardize the majority.
Image Credit: CC by Modi/ Gandhi/ Wikimedia Commons