Leading newspapers on Monday focussed on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s tightening grip on the Hindi heartland as the party registered a win in the Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh Assembly elections.

The party, which also rules at the Centre, however, failed to make a mark in Telangana where the Congress wrested control from the Bharat Rashtra Samithi.

On Sunday, the BJP registered a comfortable win in Rajasthan, bagging 115 out of 199 seats. In Madhya Pradesh, the party got 163 seats out of 230 and in Chhattisgarh, it won 54 out of 90 seats.

The Congress won the Assembly elections in Telangana with 64 out of 119 seats. K Chandrashekar Rao’s Bharat Rashtra Samithi was restricted to 39 seats in the state.

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On Monday, the newspapers reported how the BJP’s victory in the three Assembly elections could boost its chances of retaining power at the Centre in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. These were the last polls to be held before the General Assembly elections. The counting of votes for Mizoram is underway.

With the headline “BJP sweeps Hindi belt, Congress bags Telangana”, The Hindu mentioned that the ruling party at the Centre has 12 chief ministers and the Congress three.

“Party [BJP] will deploy in the Lok Sabha election many of the strategies it tested in this round of the Assembly polls; chief among these are keeping the focus on Narendra Modi as the main campaigner, making welfare guarantees, gaining support from the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and women,” it said.

The newspaper also focused on the voters in the Hindi belt not being impressed by “Congress’ OBC outreach and welfarism”.

“The severe setback to the Congress in the latest round of Assembly elections, described as a semi-final before the 2024 Lok Sabha election, and its inability to defeat the BJP in a direct contest on the plank of social justice and welfare politics may force the grand old party to recalibrate its strategy,” it added.

The Times of India led with “Heartland gives BJP 2024 headstart” and said that the outcome of the Assembly polls “reinforce BJP’s political pre-eminence, at once boosting Modi from the frontrunner for 2024 to probably winner”.

The English daily also carried a photograph of Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeting the crowd at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi after the results were declared.

The Telegraph also described the Assembly elections as a “preface” to the 2024 polls and went with “A taste of loss foretold” as the headline.

“Sunday’s outcomes in the three central-north states – an absolute reversal of the Assembly results of 2018 – have provided the BJP booster doses of impetus,” it said. “The Congress – and INDIA – have been impeded.”

The Indian Express called the election results a “stunning win” for the BJP in three states. “Riding on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity and his guarantees blending welfare politics and development with Hindutva, the BJP Sunday swept the Hindi heartland in key state elections,” it said.

The paper also said that the outcomes raise questions about the leadership of “the Congress, especially Rahul Gandhi, and the role they seek in the Opposition INDIA bloc”. “There are already rumblings within the alliance over how the Congress chose to go solo in the state elections, and the outcome Sunday will only add to the grievances of others in the bloc,” it said.

Calling the prime minister a “miracle man”, the Hindustan Times said that the “saffron wave that marooned opponents will give heart to the BJP, which will attempt next year to become the first party in 40 years to secure a third consecutive term at the Centre”.

The daily also included analyses of what the Assembly election outcomes mean for Modi, Rahul Gandhi, Congress president Malikarjun Kharge, outgoing Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, senior BJP leader Amit Shah, Congress Madhya Pradesh unit chief Kamal Nath and Bharat Rashtra Samithi’s K Chandrashekar Rao.

Hyderabad-based Telangana Today said that the Congress “won a decisive mandate” in India’s youngest state, wresting it from the Bharat Rashtra Samithi that had been in power since Telangana was carved out of Andhra Pradesh in 2014.

The publication said the Congress had done this on the back of its campaign slogan “maarpu kavali”, which translates to “change is needed”.

Telangana Today also reported that this was the BJP’s “significant gains since its single-seat victory in 2018”. The party now controls eight Assembly seats in Telangana. It referred to the BJP as a “giant killer” in the Kamareddy constituency where its candidate Katipally Venkata Ramana defeated Congress state chief Anumula Revanth Reddy and the Bharat Rashtra Samithi’s outgoing Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao.

The paper’s coverage of state Assembly polls also highlights the Bharat Rashtra Samithi’s losses in Telangana’s coal-belt constituencies and the Congress’ “sweeping impact” in the Warangal district where it won 10 of 12 seats.

Hindi-language daily Rajasthan Patrika reported the poll results in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh as as a “straight battle” between the BJP and Congress. “These elections were fought from the BJP’s side on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s face,” it said. “The result was due to ‘Modi magic’ and welfare schemes being run by the Centre.”

The newspapers in Telangana hailed the victory of the Congress party in the state and the Bharatiya Janata Party in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.

Telugu language daily Sakshi led with: “Congress won the race” and said “Three cheers!” when referring to the BJP’s victories.

Another daily named Andhra Jyothi said in its headline that voters are bored of the car (the electoral symbol of Bharat Rashtra Samithi). “Congress riding a high thanks to Revanth,” it said. The newspaper referred to BJP’s victory in the three states as “Teen Maar” – a traditional dance form in Telangana.