With results of elections to five Assembly states, particularly Uttar Pradesh, to be declared today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to emerge stronger. BJP is leading in Uttar Pradesh in all the exit polls announced on March 9. Besides, the party is also set to emerge winner in Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur. Punjab is the only state where BJP is shown to be in the weakest position, as per the exit polls.
PM Narendra Modi is likely to consolidate his position after the results to these five states are announced. With no clear challenge, winning the Lok Sabha elections scheduled for 2019 appears to be easier for Modi than it was even in 2014.
Congress, which is the only national party to challenge BJP, would have become weaker by 2019, particularly after today's results. Except for Punjab, it is not in a position to win in any of the five other states. In the states going to polls later this year and in 2018, the Grand Old Party is likely to lose Karnataka.
Congress does not appear to be in a position to win in any other state such as Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh or Rajasthan. On the contrary, it may lose Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh.
CONG SEEN PIGGYBACKING REGIONAL PARTIES
Congress is now seen as only piggy-backing the regional parties. It aligned with Janata Dal (United) and Rashtriya Janatav Dal in Bihar to share power in Bihar and joined hands with Akhilesh Yadav in UP to contest the current Assembly election.
In such a scenario, the position of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi would only weaken by the time 2019 Lok Sabha are held.
The other national political party – Sharad Pawar led Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) – would be in no position to throw a challenge to PM Narendra Modi.
Among the leaders of the regional parties, those who can confront PM Narendra Modi at the national level are Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convener Arvind Kejriwal, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.
However, barring Kejriwal, no other leader would be able to measure up to Modi's charisma in 2019. Nitish Kumar is struggling at home to tackle the threat to his chair posed by his alliance partner RJD. Former Bihar CM Lalu Prasad wishes to see either of his minister sons on the CM's chair. Nitish will have to either decide whether he will remain in alliance with RJD or join back BJP-led NDA. In the latter scenario, Nitish position would only be subordinate to Modi.
NO ONE TO MATCH UP TO MODI?
With power not in his hands, Akhilesh Yadav would not wield the same influence which he did as UP chief minister. Mamata Banerjee has her constraints. She is not well-versed with Hindi. This would not make her popular enough to match Modi in the cow belt areas.
With a favourable result in Punjab and considerable presence in Goa, Arvind Kejriwal's AAP would be the only party to cause worry to PM Modi and BJP in 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
AAP is all set to challenge BJP in its political laboratory of Gujarat and bastion Madhya Pradesh. Kejriwal is the only leader who would be seen as Modi's strongest rival. However, by 2019, even Kejriwal would not be in a position to pose a serious threat to PM Modi's dominance.
It appears to be Modi again in 2019.