Election Watch:

Election reads

  • Rahul Verma has five lessons from five assembly polls including how they expose the limits of the BJP’s strategy of over-relying on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charisma.
  • “What has historically distinguished the BJP and continues to distinguish it from all other parties is the project of majoritarianism. In Assam, the BJP did not require it this time but has already manoeuvred a space on that basis; it is extending that project in Kerala with much caution due to demographic constraints, but in West Bengal it explicitly brought forward this project. That is why its limited success there is a shrill warning bell, just as its inability to win power produces a sigh of relief,” writes Suhas Palshikar.
  • Despite the BJP’s dominance in the last seven years, state elections have provided a few blueprints on how it can be challenged and even defeated. Though these aren’t watertight categories, broadly five models can be seen with Bengal 2021 representing the sixth, writes Aditya Menon.
  • “The big issue, however, is more deep, and that has to do with the gigantic second wave of COVID-19 that is battering India. The BJP, which always sought the “party of governance” badge for itself, is now floundering on that score,” writes Nistula Hebbar.
  • Aditi Phadnis speaks to Milan Vaishnav about what the five assembly election results mean for the BJP and Indian politics.
  • “The most important trend that the present round of elections captures is the gradually deepening eastern expansion of the BJP, which exactly a decade back was seen as a party of north, central and western India, with the sole conquest of Karnataka in the south,” writes Vikas Pathak.
  • West Bengal: “One section of analysts has already started to argue that the TMC’s superior performance—at over 48% of the votes polled—is due to greater Muslim consolidation against the BJP. While this is likely true, the level of decline in support shows that the BJP likely lost vote share to the TMC outright in many places, and the Muslim vote was a minor factor. Fundamentally, this election showed the power of political appeal based on welfare and gender, and how it may undercut Hindu-Muslim polarization,” writes Neelanjan Sircar.
  • Tamil Nadu: “What explains the moderation of tailwinds in the DMK’s favour? An HT analysis suggests that some amount of pro-incumbency sentiment in favour of the AIADMK government might have led to this result,” write Roshan Kishore and Abhishek Jha.
  • Assam: “What did not happen in West Bengal on a larger scale, Assam witnessed it for the second time in a row: the consolidation of the Hindu vote and as a corollary, the consolidation of the Muslim vote, too,” write Suhas Palshikar, Manjesh Rana, Dhruba Pratim Sharma and Vikas Tripathi.
  • Kerala: “The [Left Democratic Front’s] win wasn’t a fluke. [Chief Minister] Pinarayi [Vijayan] had analysed threadbare the strengths and weaknesses of his political opponents. He designed strategies and made alliances to widen the LDF’s mass base in Kerala. His handling of the devastating floods in consecutive years (2018 and ’19), the Nipah virus outbreak and then Covid-19, has been widely appreciated. In the course of these crises, he also metamorphosed from a seemingly arrogant leader to someone who people could turn to in distress,” writes Jeemon Jacob.
  • Puducherry: “The Congress and the All India Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam suffered the worst-ever poll debacle in the electoral history of the Union Territory. The [Congress] could manage to win only 2 seats out of the 15 it contested pushing the party behind in the number of Assembly constituencies won by its alliance partner, DMK... Equally unhappy about its performance would be the AIADMK leadership as the party drew a blank for the first time in the last three decades. The AIADMK, which had four members in the last Assembly, lost all the five seats it contested in the poll,” writes Rajesh B Nair.