Modi, Shah fail political fitness test; early general elections ahead

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Modi, Shah fail political fitness test; early general elections ahead

Opposition gets magic formula to take on two-man BJP army of Modi, Shah.

Yesterday’s bypoll results, especially from Uttar Pradesh’s key Kairana seat, has given the Opposition the much-needed formula to take on the might of the two-man BJP army of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. Ironically, Modi, who threw a fitness challenge, has to face a political fitness test thrown by a united opposition called the Ghatbandhan.  

Till recently, it was thought that the Modi-Shah combine was unbeatable; no more. Yesterday’s bypoll results to 11 Assembly and four Lok Sabha seats have given the opposition a template for the 2019 general elections. Yesterday’s results should be considered as a test run for the big elections next year.

This year has been the worst so far for the BJP as opposition parties stood united against it. And yesterday’s results must be a nightmare for the BJP, Modi and Shah. Out of the 11 assembly seats, the BJP managed to get just one; out of the four Lok Sabha seats, the saffron party got one.

Earlier, the BJP lost Gorakhpur and Phulpur in Uttar Pradesh, and now Kairana. It had lost two seats in Rajasthan: Ajmer and Alwar.

Modi, Shah fail political fitness test; early general elections aheadThe BJP must be worried. The party faces a big risk in three crucial elections to Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh assemblies early next year. Any further loss would mean that the BJP would be routed in 2019. Hence, in all probability, the BJP may call for early elections to coincide with the polls in Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh.

General elections are due in April-May 2019 whereas elections to Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh assemblies are to be held in December-January 2018-19. The Centre may call for early elections to the Lok Sabha in December-January.    

The BJP’s downslide began earlier this year when Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samajwadi Party surprisingly came together to trounce BJP in Phulpur and Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seats. This tie-up threw up a rough template of Gatbandhan politics for further elections.

Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samajwadi Party After BJP’s bastion of Phulpur and Gorakpur fell to the Ghatbandhan, Kairana saw a broad coalition of the Rashtriya Lok Dal, SP, BSP and the Congress joining hands to defeat the BJP today. All these seats were considered BJP strongholds.

With RLD’s Tabassum Hasan registering a massive win, a united Opposition with the common and only goal of keeping the BJP out seems to have clicked again. And this will be the template for 2019 elections too.

In a master stroke, the RLD, a Jat-led party, put up a Muslim candidate, supported by all other formations. The combined opposition votes and the crucial minority votes gave Tabassum a massive victory.

Uttar Pradesh sends out the maximum number of parliamentarians and Kairana’s results have a national message – united we stand, divided we fall. If Modi and Shah have to be stopped, stick together till 2019.

Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samajwadi Party Now even the BJP allies like the JD(U) are worried. In Jokihat in Bihar, RJD trounced JD(U) by a margin of 40,000 votes. This will be a major embarrassment for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who was hoping his minority welfare schemes will sway the Muslim and Yadav votes.

The only ray of hope for the BJP came from Palghar Lok Sabha constituency in Maharashtra where BJP’s Rajendra Gavit, who defected from Congress, won by over 29,000 votes. Shiv Sena had fielded Shriniwas Wanga, son of late BJP MP Chintaman Wanga, from the seat further straining its ties with BJP.

If the Sena decides to be part of the Ghatbandhan, the BJP will have a tough time in Maharashtra too.

BJP’s popularity has been taking a nose-dive. In the first year after coming to power, the BJP managed to bag the seats it already held in a bypoll. However, it lost two seats — the Ratlam seat in Madhya Pradesh in 2015, and the Gurdaspur seat in Punjab in 2017 — to the Congress.

In bypolls for Lok Sabha constituencies held after the 2014 elections, the BJP lost 8 out of 13 seats it had won earlier. 2018, undoubtedly, has been its worst year so far.