Exit poll predictions for the 2017 assembly elections have given Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah reasons to smile.
Most pollsters have either given a clear majority to the BJP in three out of five states that went to the polls or projected it as the single-largest party within a striking distance of the magic figure.
If exit poll figures hold true, it will be a shot in the arm for the two politicians from Gujarat who have tried to weave new social equation across the country and a new culture within the BJP.
The social groups they are attempting to cultivate for the BJP have largely been a vote bank for regional or mandal parties, who successfully blocked the BJP’s march even at the peak of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement that led to some sort of a Hindu consolidation in the BJP.
A government in Uttar Pradesh, of its own or with some ally, will be a boost to the BJP ahead of assembly elections in the next two years.
Winning UP will have a psychological impact on voters and the BJP cadre.
If pollsters’ prediction matches the result, it will ring alarm bells for the Congress for two reasons. It clearly hasn’t been able to stop the rise of Narendra Modi in states where the BJP is its main rival- such as Uttarakhand. Second, in multi cornered contest, the Congress is either ceding space to a third force, like the Aam Aadmi Party in Punjab and Goa, or has to join hands with regional players, such as the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh, for survival. That is not a rosy picture for the Congress, which is trying to regain ground ahead of the 2019 election, wherein it will be pitted against a formidable Modi who has been winning a majority of the elections after his dream run in 2014.
The poll prediction also suggests a rise for the AAP in Punjab, a development that could propel it into a much stronger position in 2019.
Arvind Kejriwal winning Punjab would mean AAP being the only regional party having its government in two states. That will prompt him to challenge the Congress in more states, such as Gujarat, and emerge as the axis of anti-BJP politics in 2019.
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