New Delhi: The recently concluded assembly poll results have provided a resounding endorsement of the BJP’s strategic approach, centering on the charisma of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the party’s governance agenda. The outcome has not only dashed Congress’ hopes of a revival in the Hindi heartland but has also strengthened the perception that the BJP is well-positioned to secure a third consecutive term in the 2024 elections.
In a departure from the norm, the BJP opted not to project any chief ministerial face, instead choosing to anchor its campaign on broader narratives highlighting the achievements of the Modi government. Despite initial skepticism following a similar strategy in the Karnataka elections, where the Congress gained ground, the BJP’s resounding success in the recent polls underscores the enduring strength of the ‘Modi magic.’
The BJP’s campaign extensively featured Prime Minister Modi’s guarantees, with Modi actively engaging in rallies across the poll-bound states (excluding Mizoram) to seek popular support for his welfare and development promises. Addressing 14 rallies each in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and five in Chhattisgarh, Modi’s presence and the party’s messaging resonated strongly with voters.
The magnitude of the BJP’s victory in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh surprised even party leaders, as exit polls had provided mixed forecasts. The strategic campaign, led by Home Minister Amit Shah, strategically focused on countering anti-incumbency sentiments against Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel in Chhattisgarh and addressing perceived voter indifference in segments of Madhya Pradesh.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s emotional connection with voters, particularly through the ‘ladli bahna’ scheme, played a pivotal role in countering opposition challenges. Chouhan’s relatable image as the people’s ‘mama’ contrasted favorably with Congress’ Chief Ministerial face Kamal Nath, criticized as arrogant and non-collaborative.
The BJP’s satisfaction is amplified by the Congress’ substantial defeat in the three Hindi-speaking states, despite its emphasis on issues like the demand for a caste census to connect with Other Backward Classes voters. The BJP, aligning with the Congress in amplifying welfare promises, now faces the strategic choice of continuing this populist approach to counter opposition parties.
The BJP’s triumph solidifies its dominance in North and West India, crucial regions that propelled its consecutive Lok Sabha victories in 2014 and 2019. Having secured victory in the three Hindi-speaking states in 2019, despite losing them in the 2018 assembly polls, the BJP’s ideological and governance foundations appear to have deepened.
However, the BJP faced a setback in Telangana, where the Congress secured a significant win, riding on an anti-incumbency wave against the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi. This outcome, coupled with the BJP’s diminished position in Karnataka, prompts a reassessment of its strategy in the southern states, where it has yet to replicate the success witnessed in other parts of the country.