It’s been a great Monday for the BJP and the larger ideological Parivar. In Gujarat, the BJP has won five of the seven Assembly seats where byelections were held on September 12. All five -- Jasdan, Chotila, Dehgam, Danta and Sami-Hariz – were held by the Congress; these are traditional strongholds of the party. Jasdan has been with the Congress since the first general election. Congress has retained Dhoraji. BJP has lost Kodinar.
The byelections have changed the configuration of the 182-member Gujarat Assembly: BJP – 122; Congress – 54; Others – six. That’s three short of what Chief Minister Narendra Modi had aimed to achieve in the 2007 Assembly poll.
In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP has wrested the Tendukheda seat from the Congress. It was considered a stronghold of State Congress president Suresh Pachauri. The Congress has retained Gohad. In the 230-member Madhya Pradesh Assembly, the configuration changes marginally: BJP –144; Congress – 69; BSP – 7; BJSP – 5; Others – four. One seat is vacant.
In Uttarakhand, the BJP has won the Vikasnagar seat, albeit by a wafer-thin margin. This gives the BJP a simple majority of 36 in the 70-member State Assembly.
[The ABVP has swept the MS University, Baroda, election. To get an idea why this is important, please read Defiling Christ is not art]
The most significant results, of course, are from Gujarat. In this summer’s Lok Sabha poll, the BJP won 15 of the 26 seats in this State; the remaining went to the Congress. Subsequently, the party lost the Junagadh Municipal Corporation election which was touted as ‘mainstream’ media as clinching evidence of Modi’s ‘declining popularity’. Some were bold enough to declare that the ‘Modi story is over’.
Not quite. People in the constituencies won on Monday had voted for Congress in 2007 and then again in the 2009 Lok Sabha poll. They have now voted BJP. Modi says the people have seen through the Congress in 100 days of UPA Government. Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi has predictably waved away the results as inconsequential. Had the Congress won, austerity be damned, champagne would have been uncorked. Arun Jaitley says it was imprudent of the Congress to “sympathise with Ishrat Jahan and her accomplices” killed in a police encounter in 2004 on election eve. Reminds me of Sonia Gandhi’s “maut ke saudagar” speech during the 2007 Assembly election.
Modi, however, needs to figure out what went wrong in Kodinar. After all, the MLA who vacated the seat was elected to the Lok Sabha on a BJP ticket from the same constituency. Was it choice of candidate? Or was it poor arithmetic in terms of local party equations?
Some conclusions that can be drawn from Monday’s results:
. BJP still remains popular at the State level. Narendra Modi and Shivraj Singh Chouhan command support and endorsement.
. Modi has reaffirmed his ability to fight back odds, imagined and real. He has demonstrated that he can finesse the Congress in elections. (In this round he didn’t even campaign, though he personally strategised every move.)
. People who voted Congress in LS poll have voted BJP in State elections.
. Endorsement of BJP State leadership highlights rejection of party’s national leadership as it exists.
. Dilli4 can’t claim any credit for Monday’s spectacular win. They had no role (and thankfully so!).
In a sense, Monday’s results have once again proved that Modi is the future. Gujarat understands this better than the BJP’s central leaders do. Will the eventual waning of Dilli4’s clout lead to realisation that the choice for the party is clear? Or will I-shall-grab-all ‘leaders’ have their way once again?
What do you think?