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Riding high on Modi wave, BJP storms virgin territory

Unprecedented BJP’s landslide victory in the 16th Lok Sabha elections marks its entry into areas where the saffron party has been traditionally weak.

india Updated: May 16, 2014 23:30 IST
Saubhadra Chatterji

A strong Modi wave has not only helped the BJP sweep its established bastions of Hindi-heartland and Western India but marked a new entry in unchartered areas where the saffron party had been traditionally tepid.

Odisha, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Jammu and Kashmir are the four states where the Modi-led BJP has embarked on a new electoral journey. What may further enthuse BJP’s rank and file is that barring Tamil Nadu, the BJP fought alone in other three states after a long gap.

In 2009, the BJP had just one seat (Darjeeling of West Bengal) from these four states that sends 108 MPs to Lok Sabha.

In Odisha, the BJP’s three seats (Sambalpur, Sundargarh and Bargarh) shows signs of recovery from the unexpected snapping of ties by the Biju Janata Dal ahead of the 2009 polls that caught the BJP completely off guard in the last election.

“In 1999, with 21% vote we got all the nine seats we contested. In 2004, we got seven seats with 17% vote share. In 2009, we retained 17% vote but could not get a single seat,” said Suresh Pujari, BJP candidate in Sambalpur.

Jammu & Kashmir, where the BJP drew a blank in 2009, had tried coalition with both National Conference and its rival PDP in different times. This time, it fought alone but won two seats including Udhampur where it defeated Congress stalwart Ghulam Nabi Azad.

In Jammu and Kashmir, the saffron party has also registered highest vote-share (32.9%) among all parties. The Congress that runs a coalition government with the NC got 23.3% votes.

The results in West Bengal clearly show that the BJP is fast emerging as an alternative to the Left even as Trinamool has consolidated its position and improved the tally. The BJP could win Darjeeling in 2009 but the victory was more due to the support of the local Gorkha groups. This time, apart from retaining Darjeeling, the BJP won Asansol, an industrial town that has a huge non-Bengali vote bank.

The BJP has also recorded its best ever vote share in Bengal with 17.2% votes.

In J Jayalalitha’s land, the BJP stitched an alliance with regional parties such as Vijayakanth’s DMDK, PMK and MDMK. The alliance helped the BJP to get one seat in Kanyakumari which has a large Christian population.

Even as the party again failed to win any seat in Kerala, it, however, registered a sharp increase in its vote share to 10.3%.