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Representational Image. (File photo)

In national politics, where does the BJP stand

Having lost the high stake battle to the TMC, the BJP will remain formidable — as a party which controls most of India’s Hindi speaking and northeastern states along with its traditional bastion of Gujarat and the politically turbulent southern state of Karnataka — but short of its goal
By Abhishek Jha
UPDATED ON MAY 12, 2021 09:38 AM IST

Had the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) managed to win the West Bengal elections, it would have got its first government on India’s eastern coast. Having lost the high stake battle to the All India Trinamool Congress (TMC), it will remain formidable — as a party which controls most of India’s Hindi speaking and northeastern states along with its traditional bastion of Gujarat and the politically turbulent southern state of Karnataka — but short of its goal.

As of now, the BJP and its allies have governments in 18 out of the 30 states and union territories (UTs) in India where a legislative assembly currently exists (Jammu and Kashmir is a UT with legislature where no assembly exists as of now). The only major state, which has a non-BJP National Democratic Alliance (NDA) chief minister, is Bihar.

Of the seven major states — excluding all northeastern states except Assam, the hill states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand and the western state of Goa — where the BJP or its allies are in power, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat will go to polls in 2022. In both these states, the BJP will be under pressure to not just win but also win big.

In Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, where BJP chief ministers are currently in office, the party did not form a government after the assembly elections and it has captured power riding on defections from the Congress party. While it has consolidated its position in Madhya Pradesh, its Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa, continues to battle inner party problems, something which has plagued both the BJP and the Congress in the state.

Also Read | Centre brings all 77 BJP MLAs in West Bengal under VIP security cover

In Haryana, the only state apart from Assam and Bihar where the BJP managed to come back to power, with the help of the Jananayak Janata Party, after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, there could be strong headwinds against the BJP due to the ongoing farm protests, the effects of which could also manifest itself in western Uttar Pradesh, when polls are held in early 2022. The same issue could give the otherwise nationally beleaguered Congress a decisive edge in the state of Punjab.

To be sure, the BJP is also the main Opposition party in seven out of the 12 states where it is not in power currently. Of these, in West Bengal and Odisha, it has captured opposition space for the first time in the latest elections. In Telangana, where assembly elections were held before schedule in 2018, the BJP has performed better than the Congress in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. States on India’s eastern coast still hold the promise of future gains for the BJP. Of the four eastern coast states (Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal, and Odisha), only the TMC has been opposing the BJP on a consistent basis when it comes to the BJP’s legislative agenda in the parliament.

The only region, where the BJP seems to be in complete control at the moment is the north-eastern region beyond the Chicken’s Neck. That the party has bestowed the chief minister’s post on Himanta Biswa Sarma by removing the incumbent Sadananda Sonwal shows that Sarma has emerged as a regional heavyweight not just in Assam, but the entire north-eastern region.

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