The high-decibel campaign and personality clashes in elections 2014 have so overwhelmed us that it will take some time to take a dispassionate look at the strategies of the various parties. On the face of it, the BJP has gone with the personality of its prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, and the Congress with its pro-poor schemes. But, whoever wins on May 16, it is clear now that the BJP plans to be a long-distance runner in politics. It has made plans to establish itself as much more than a Hindi heartland party, which it has been considered to be until quite recently.
This explains why Mr Modi went to such pains to stitch up a coalition of small parties in Tamil Nadu, a state where the BJP has no presence at all. In doing so, he has earned the wrath of the AIADMK leader, J Jayalalithaa, who was at one time a personal friend of the Gujarat CM. This may not translate into seats for the BJP itself but it certainly establishes the presence of the party in the political landscape of the southern state. Though it has been inept at handling Karnataka, the BJP is there to stay. In Andhra Pradesh, where the BJP was not a player, it has established its credentials with a strategic pre-poll alliance. Mr Modi’s tour of the North-East, complete with local headgear, again raised the visibility of the party, which till now has rarely bothered about that part of the country. In West Bengal, where a BJP presence would have been unthinkable during the long years of Left rule, the party has certainly made inroads in at least the urban areas. The disenchantment with both the Left and the Trinamool Congress could mean that the BJP will pick up votes, though maybe not seats.
Mr Modi has, in effect, established a beachhead in the states where the party was not visible. This will mean that come the next election, the BJP could well be a truly pan-Indian party to rival or surpass the Congress. The Congress, on the other hand, does not seem to have engaged in any strategic thought and has fought this election more as a holding action. This will translate into gains for the BJP in the long run and clearly, this is smart thinking on the part of its strategists. Politics may be about the here and now, but fortune will definitely favour the far-sighted.