Saturday, April 2, 2016

A respite for the BJP?

Since the ignominious defeat of the BJP first in Delhi and then Bihar, it seems Amit Shah's centralization of the party around Modi has come to bite the party back - hard. While it may have made sense to make Modi the central figure in a state where the BJP had virtually no presence (mainly Haryana), states where the BJP was previously in government (Delhi and Bihar) should have had local leadership. The party needed to remember that its strength was in good state leaders, such as Modi himself.

And this realization seems to have sunk in, with Sonowal being made the CM candidate in Assam, with his newly found deputy Himanta Biswas bringing his competence into the stream. Thus, in Assam, you see a well-coordinated campaign run by the NDA alliance and the Congress, already facing the brunt of anti-incumbency, tying itself in knots just to justify its continued existence in the state. Its pet Muslim vote bank has deserted it in favor of the AIUDF, and the biggest of the Bodo parties has joined the NDA. It is a grim time for the Congress in Assam.

And yet, things may change. The BJP in particular has been known to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. While so far PM Modi has addressed a few rallies, along with other national leaders of the party, he has left it to the local leadership to take care of the nuts and bolts (in stark contrast to Bihar, where there was virtually no local leadership at all). If the local leaders fail to bury their well-known differences to bring the party to power after decades, it will be a sad day indeed for the people of Assam. After the events in Arunachal Pradesh, the BJP is virtually a part of the ruling coalition there, as it is in Nagaland (and it has been in a long-term alliance with the SDF in Sikkim). Assam could just be the fourth gem for the BJP in the region. 

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