5-State assembly polls: BJP soars, Congress sinks
Overcoming strong anti-incumbency sentiments, Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP yesterday stormed back into power for a second successive tenure in the most populous and politically crucial state of Uttar Pradesh.
The party achieved a landslide victory trumping the Samajwadi Party headed by Akhilesh Yadav.
Arvind Kejriwal-helmed Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) scripted history by chalking up a remarkable victory unseating India's oldest party Congress and grabbing power in the Punjab polls and becoming India's first regional party to win power in two states.
The party already rules Delhi.
It was a remarkable victory for the BJP in UP, where no party had been able to retain power for a second consecutive term since 1985.
The saffron party's performance came against heavy odds in the form of its handling of the Covid-19 situation amidst allegations of bodies floating in the Ganges, joblessness and other related issues.
At the time of filing this report, BJP had already won 123 seats and led in 133 others in the 403-strong UP assembly, coming close to repeating its performance with 300-plus seats in 2017.
The two most important factors that worked in BJP's favour this time were that the party succeeded in raising the spectre of alleged mafia and goonda raj seen during SP's previous rule in UP and polarisation.
The humiliating defeat of Sonia Gandhi-led Congress in Punjab and its failure to beat BJP in Manipur, Uttarakhand and Goa, which too went to fresh assembly polls along with UP and Punjab, reinforced the growing perception that the party is at its lowest point since independence.
For Congress, the elections results in the five states will bring its position as a glue of an anti-BJP coalition under fresh questioning and critics of the Gandhi clan within the party will be emboldened, analysts say.
AAP's triumph in Punjab gives a big boost to the party and Kejriwal's hopes of becoming a bigger player in India's national politics.
The party also won two seats in Goa with a vote share of 6.77 percent.
On the other hand, TMC chief Mamata Banerjee's national aspirations suffered a blow yesterday as her party put up a flop show in the coastal state of Goa, where it failed to win a single seat in the 40-member legislative assembly. TMC's vote share in Goa is 5.21 percent.
Last year, TMC suffered a virtual wipe-out in Tripura's civic body polls.
On the other hand, AAP secured one seat and led in another in Goa with a higher vote share than TMC.
BJP's win in UP, which sends the maximum number of Lok Sabha members (80) and where the polls outcome is considered bellwether, and in three other states signals consolidation of its power and ideological hold in Indian politics. The victories will be seen as referendums on Modi's popularity ahead of the 2024 general election.
For Congress, the loss in Punjab, one of the major states where it had power, means its pan-India footprints have shrunk further. It is now left in power in just two heartland states -- Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh -- adding to its continued nightmare.
In Uttar Pradesh, Congress was set to end up in fourth place.
Wracked by infighting, Congress has itself to blame for the debacle in Punjab, as it replaced its Chief Minister Amarinder Singh just four months before assembly polls.
Saffron-robed Adityanath, who many consider to be Modi's heir, is set to become the first Chief Minister of UP to return to power with a decisive mandate after serving a full five-year term.
Samajwadi Party has vastly improved its performance with a double-digit vote swing. BJP and its allies have also improved by a couple of percentage points.
Like Congress, Mayawati's BSP saw a significant erosion of its vote shares in UP.
The two parties are likely to end up with not more than half a dozen legislators.