The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) needs to go back to the drawing board to rework its strategy in State Assembly polls. If the trend holds for Jharkhand assembly election, this will be the fifth state that BJP will lose in a row after Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra. It lost majority in Haryana, falling short by six seats, and had to tie up with Dushyant Chautala of Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) to form the government.
BJP’s focus on national issues like Article 370, Ram Mandir, Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, and National Register of Citizens (NRC) is not cutting ice with the voters – perhaps even backfiring. These issues are increasingly seen as divisive and diversionary tactics while real problems of economic slowdown and unemployment are being pushed under the carpet.
Modi magic doesn’t seem to be working in state elections. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had campaigned extensively in Jharkhand, and it seems to have had little impact on results.
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There are large groups like the tribals in Jharkhand who are unhappy with the BJP seeing the party as a threat to their livelihood of jal, jangal and zameen (water, forest and land). Having a non-tribal chief minister Raghubar Das last time did not help matters for the BJP.
The Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) – that leads the alliance comprising Congress and the RJD – has swept most of the tribal seats.
The results should be a wake-up call for the Congress from its somnolence that there is still hope and that the BJP is not invincible. It is time for the Congress and other Opposition parties to give up dawdling and make themselves heard.
The Jharkhand results will have a bearing on Delhi elections, less than two months away, and also on Bihar elections in 2020, West Bengal and Assam, both in 2021.