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In BJP win, Congress faces worst crisis - Deccan Herald
In BJP win, Congress faces worst crisis
Bengaluru, March 13, 2017, DHNS
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The outcome of the just-concluded Assembly elections in five states has belied all forecasts. The BJP has won an unprecedented four-fifths majority in Uttar Pradesh and a three-fourths majority in Uttarakhand. But in Punjab, voters have punished the saffron party, which has been a junior partner of the Shiromani Akali Dal for almost two decades. In the process, they have given an emphatic mandate to the opposition Congress. The voters have also used the ballot to express their disapproval of the BJP in the small coastal state of Goa, where the party has been in power for five years. Unlike Punjab, however, Goa voters have not given a clear mandate to the Congress. In the northeastern state of Manipur, the BJP emerged for the first time as a strong contender for power, behind the incumbent ruling party, the Congress. The Congress fell just short of the majority there. With the Centre under its control and its nominees in the respective Raj Bhavans in Panaji and Imphal, it would be a surprise if the new non-Congress legislators in the two states do not gravitate towards the BJP to help it form the next government in both the states.

The political implications from these elections, however, go much beyond the immediate issue of who will form new government in the five states. More states have come under the BJP rule since the formation of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre in 2014. Even before the start of the election process, the Congress and the Samajwadi Party (SP) found it compelling enough to come together to take on an aggressive BJP. By the time the exit polls for elections were out, there were wild suggestions that the SP should probably have considered a larger alliance to counter the BJP. This is a throwback to the pattern of opposition politics since the late 1960s onwards when the Congress was the dominant political party in the country. It now appears that the BJP is emerging as the primary pole in the polity.

This would mean that in the days to come, the country may witness a new phase of efforts at forging opposition unity to take on Modi's BJP. But certainly, there will be questions about the ability of the present Congress leadership to provide leadership to such efforts. As is already becoming obvious, there are doubts within the Congress if its leader Rahul Gandhi will ever rise to the challenge. The Congress must settle these issues quickly as the party will be up against electoral challenges of survival proportions in states like Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan etc, over the next 18 months.