The Haryana and Maharashtra poll results to be announced Sunday will not only have a bearing on how the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) picks its poll partners but will also decide the pace at which reforms planned by the Modi government will move.
The fact that the government did not wait for results before freeing up diesel and fixing gas price Saturday showed a sense of urgency. Coming days are expected to see a bigger push for reforms.
Exit polls have given the BJP the edge in both Maharashtra and Haryana, with some even predicting an outright win for the party.
HT Explains:What's at stake for the parties
Haryana ruled by the Congress for 10 years recorded highest-ever turnout of 76.54%, while Maharashtra, where the Congress and NCP formed the ruling coalition, recorded 63.13% polling.
If exit polls hold true Sunday, it will deliver yet another blow to the Congress. The two states are not only crucial politically but also in terms of resource generation.
The Congress seemed resigned to its fate. Many senior spokespersons and panelists Saturday stayed away from a meeting called at the party’s war room to plan response to the outcome and leaders to be fielded on TV channels.
As for the BJP, going solo could be the new mantra if it were to come to power in the two states — which will be a first.
Laying bare reservations about playing second fiddle to regional partners, the BJP walked out of 25-year-old alliance with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and ended its brief partnership with the Haryana Janhit Congress of Kuldeep Bishnoi.
A victory will allow the party to be more firm with existing and prospective allies, with some big state elections to follow.
Bihar is due for election next year. West Bengal, where the BJP has managed to make some inroads and even win its first assembly seat in 15 years, goes to the polls in 2016 with Assam and Tamil Nadu.
The BJP will fight some of these elections -- like the one in Bihar– with allies, while for others it will join hand with regional parties like in Jharkhand. A god showing in Maharashtra and Haryana will give the party greater leverage when negotiating seat-share with allies.
In both the states, the BJP, in a break from practice, did not project a CM-face and instead showed confidence in the “Modi wave” to ride to power. A favourable outcome, party leaders say, would be an endorsement of the economic policies of the Modi government, which has tried to achieve higher growth without ignoring the concerns of the aam aadmi.
To fuel growth, the government plans to take more steps and a win in the two crucial states would be an added bonus.