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Amit Shah will either be the de facto president of the BJP or actually become its president formally. Having found such superlative success in Uttar Pradesh, he is now being seen as the best man to consolidate gains in new territories. The attention currently may be on the Modi regime in Delhi, but what this election has done is to open up intriguing and real possibilities for the BJP in states where it was not considered in with a chance.
Most significantly, eastern India is where it has really broken new ground. The party has done spectacularly well in Bihar, but it was in any case part of the ruling establishment there till about a year ago in alliance with the JD(U). For future battles linked to the assembly, it will project former deputy chief minister Sushil Modi as CM.
“The Bengali bhadralok was reacting to Mamata’s policies like salaries for imams, and found us.”
What is truly remarkable is the garnering of the nearly 18 per cent of the vote in West Bengal although it won just two seats. Says Siddhartha Nath Singh, the BJP prabhari for the state, “The big challenge for us was to convince voters that we were a serious contender. Also, the way Mamata Banerjee has announced policies such as a hospital only for Muslims, a monthly salary for imams, cycles for Muslim women and so on had already created communal fissures. The Bengali bhadralok was reacting, and found us.” From a seat such as Calcutta North, Rahul Sinha, the BJP state president, stood a respectable second. Even Left-leaning commentators see the BJP as a growing force in Bengal and a further withering away of the Left vote.
Also impressive have been the gains in Assam where the BJP won seven seats and 37 per cent of the vote. With the agp vote collapsing and the Congress declining, it is clear that the BJP has a future in the state elections. It will become the magnet for the anti-immigrant vote of the Hindu Assamese and Bengalis. Conditions in the state are ripe for the BJP to grow further.
Equally, Uttar Pradesh too must be seen as new terrain as the BJP has been out of power here for 17 years and its voteshare went up to 42 per cent from 15 per cent in the 2012 assembly elections that was won handsomely by the Samajwadi Party. With 71 of the state’s 80 seats in its kitty, the BJP must consider itself a serious contender for capturing the assembly in 2017. Narendra Modi has significantly retained the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat and given up Vadodara. There is no state-level leader here who can today be seen as a potential CM candidate. But there’s always Modi the PM and Shah the man For All Important Tasks.