The BJP’s decimation in Delhi — the first defeat for party chief Amit Shah in the 15 years he has been overseeing elections — has come as a wake-up call for the party while offering hope to a demoralised opposition that the saffron party is indeed beatable.
The budget, to be presented on February 28, would be closely watched. With his aura of invincibility shattered, it would be interesting to see if Prime Minister Narendra Modi would allow the Delhi shock to affect his government’s push for economic reforms. The first indication of a shift, if any, would be reflected in the budget, which, Modi had said, would be transformational.
The results would have no bearing on the economic policy and the government would remain committed to reforms, party sources said.
Sangh Parivar affiliates have had reservation about some of the economic measures and a section of the RSS may raise some red flags in the new political scenario.
Sources in government said the RSS and Centre were on the same page on bringing the economy back on high-growth path.
Politically, however, implications could be wider. The party’s rout has given the opposition —especially the ruling parties in poll-bound Bihar, West Bengal and Assam where the BJP has been on an upswing — an opening.
A humbled BJP is unlikely to fish in Bihar’s troubled waters and force polls before the assembly term runs out in October.
In the national elections, Bihar voters junked caste and ideological considerations in favour of Modi. Even those who saw Nitish Kumar as a mascot of development voted the BJP. Kumar will now hope for a reversal in his favour.
The middle class voted in big numbers for the AAP. While the opposition will likely read it as its disillusionment with the Modi government, the BJP will do well to see it as a rejection of attempts to stoke communal passions.
It remains to be seen how Modi will rein them in. Within the party, Modi-Amit Shah baiters will be emboldened though they may hold their fire, for now.