Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday admitted that the results of the recently-concluded Assembly elections were not as expected. But, he claimed anti-incumbency was not a factor and said this was an opportunity for the Bharatiya Janata Party to pause and analyse.
Jaitley was referring to the party’s defeat in Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan and a close contest with the Congress in Madhya Pradesh. The final numbers for these states are not yet out as the votes are still being counted. Assembly elections for the three states, as well as for Telangana and Mizoram, were held between November 12 and December 7 and the votes were counted on Tuesday. The Telangana Rashtra Samithi won the elections in Telangana to retain power, while the Mizo National Front returned to power after 10 years. The results in the five states come months before the Lok Sabha elections, in which the BJP hopes to retain power at the Centre.
“In both Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh we were in power for 15 years and we have done well,” Jaitley said, according to ANI. “I don’t think there was anti-incumbency but fatigue factor does come in.”
“In Madhya Pradesh, the final jury is still out,” Jaitley added, according to NDTV. “We will wait for the last vote to be counted. Of course we got less seats than we expected. We did not anticipate the Chhattisgarh gap will be so large.”
When asked if these results were a sign of what the BJP may face during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Jaitley said “issues in a state election are entirely different” from those in the General Elections. The finance minister also refused to give Congress President Rahul Gandhi any credit for the wins, and said “no election depends on an individual” but on several factors.
The question during next year’s election will be if the country wants a “tried and tested government” in place or an “unstable, non-ideological coalition” that will splinter away by itself, he added. He was purportedly referring to the Opposition parties’ plans to stitch together an anti-BJP alliance.
“The 2019 election will be an election around the central government and the leadership of PM Modi,” he added.