Opposition nowhere near blocking BJP's electoral surge

INDIA-ELECTION, Lotus party There is no sign of the opposition gearing up for next year's general elections

The BJP has created history by capturing Tripura, a Left bastion, by a stunning two-third majority with 43 out of 59 assembly seats and trying to emerge as a pan India party rather than being confined to the Hindi belt.

The saffron brigade will soon be in power in 22 out of the 29 states in the country, including Nagaland and Meghalaya, where the outcome of the recent assembly elections is significant. In both these states the BJP will be part of the government.

The developments in Meghalaya in particular was reminiscent of Goa and Manipur last year, when the Congress had emerged as the single largest party in the two states but meekly allowed the BJP to work out coalition arrangements ensuring a majority.

The lotus party and its strategists had worked to a plan in Tripura decimating the Manik Sarkar government which had held sway for four of the five terms.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi played no small role in blunting the Left in Tripura and paving the way for a turnaround along with his confidant and BJP president Amit Shah. Modi stuck to his theme of 'Sab ka saath, sab ka vikas' which the youth of the sensitive state bordering Bangladesh found refreshing.

The tactic of upturning the old order in pursuit of all round development, encompassing the uplift of the poor and generating employment enthused the electorate. There is, however, an echo that the next chief minister of Tripura should be a tribal, which is unlikely to materialise for now.

The Left has only one government left in Kerala. Its leaders have failed to show any spark or imagination thereby failing miserably in retaining or enlarging their sphere of influence at the hustings. It might well be the beginning of the end of the Left as a political force in the country.

The BJP's breakthrough in Tripura is a wake up call for West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who must be credited with seeing the back of the Left government which held the reins of power in Kolkata for nearly 33 years. At the same time, Shah emphasised that his party's golden era would begin when it emerges victorious in West Bengal, Odisha and the last Left bastion of Kerala.

The lotus party will be a part of the government in the Christian dominant states of Meghalaya and Nagaland in the Northeast. In Meghalaya and Nagaland, the BJP managed only 10 per cent and 15 per cent of the votes, respectively.

Its leaders have been guarded in the Northeast, refraining from going the whole hog with the three-point Hindutva agenda and banning beef, as that would have been counter productive. Modi had specifically deputed Union Law and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad to oversee the Northeastern region which assumes importance in pursuit of the Centre's 'act east' policy bidding adieu to the earlier pursuit of the 'look east' policy.

At the same time, the situation in states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Maharashtra, where the BJP is in power is anything but smooth sailing. The multitude of pledges made by the Modi government in the run up to the 2014 general elections has failed to materialise, particularly on the employment generation front.

However, the latest GDP figures raise hopes of the economy picking up. The BJP's success in the states has largely been on account of promoting fresh faces every time a state has had assembly elections.

What sent shock waves in Tripura was the collapse of the Congress vote bank. It became apparent that the anti-Left, anti-incumbency vote, which includes the tribals, had moved completely to the BJP.

The Northeast, including Assam, contributes 25 seats to the Lok Sabha and any party cannot bank on this region alone in securing a majority to be able to form a government at the Centre.

The outcome of the recent assembly elections has triggered the opposition to at least begin coming together to defeat the "communal" BJP. Last Sunday, BSP chief Mayawati, despite her animus towards the SP, announced she will back their candidates in the two upcoming by-elections in Uttar Pradesh to be held on March 11.

The newly anointed Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who has failed to enthuse confidence in the rank and file of the party so far, is out of the country. The two coalitions in the past had been built around the Congress and the BJP.

Therefore, it is difficult to assess if regional formations, with Telengana Chief Minister Chandrasekhar Rao throwing his hat in the ring, seems an effective and workable arrangement both at the state and national levels. As of now, there is no sign of the opposition, including the Congress, gearing up its loins for the next year's general elections.

Barring the defeats in Delhi, Bihar and Punjab, the BJP in the vanguard of the NDA has acted quickly and decisively in blazing a trail of electoral victories with an eye on securing a second consecutive term on the majestic Raisina Hill in the national capital. Even after four years of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre, the opposition remains completely out of sync in blocking the BJP surge.