Here's why BJP is a truly national party now

BJP rally

The exit poll results predict that Modi wave 2.0 has gripped the nation. The Bharatiya Janata Party is expected to come back to power, the only party to have been able to do so after 1984.

The results are expected to be as per the script designed by the Modi-Shah duo. Losses in the Hindi heartland compensated by gains in West Bengal and Odisha. The party which had a strong presence in north, west and central India, now has his foothold also in eastern India.

It has also made significant gains in the North East making it a truly national party.

Mamata’s worst nightmare may come true

West Bengal has been the focus of attention for the BJP for quite some time. The state has a minority population of 27%, almost double the national average, and thus the BJP has accused the Trinamool Congress of indulging in minority appeasement, similar to Congress at the national level.

As per NDTV’s poll of polls, the BJP is expected to win 14 (+12), TMC 26 (-8) and Congress 2 (-2). The Left which ruled the state for 34 continuous years might even fail to open its account.

The BJP is said to have successfully exploited the Hindu sentiment and managed to play caste politics in a state which has been a hotbed of class politics. The success of the BJP depends on the collapse of the Left. In 2014, Left Front managed to win 30% vote share. This as per polls has fallen to 5%-10% levels. The entire gains are of the BJP, which is expected to bag 35%-40% vote share.

The anti-Mamata vote which was predominantly occupied by the Left has almost moved en-masse to the BJP if the exit poll numbers are correct. As per an analysis by the author, if 50% of the Congress and Left combined vote share move to BJP, it could win 12 seats, and if 75% vote share of Left and Congress move to BJP, it could win 17 seats.

The fact that Congress is almost holding onto its vote share in the state has acted as a double whammy for Mamata. Congress has managed to retain most of the minority support which otherwise might have gone to Mamata.

BJP today is not just the preference of middle, urban and educated class but it seems to have made deeper inroads. The clever ploy of BJP dividing the Matua community vote bank which was earlier anchor voting segment of TMC has also seemed to work. The community has significant influence in 10 seats in Bengal.

The push given by Modi, second highest number of rallies in Bengal after Uttar Pradesh, seems to have worked. The state witnessed a bigger Modi wave than 2014.

BJP benefits from split voting in Odisha

The other state which has been the focus of BJP as part of its ‘look east policy’ was Odisha. This state also featured among the top 5 rallies of the Prime Minister Modi. BJP had tasted blood in 2017 in panchayat polls where it almost doubled its vote share from 18% to 33%. And 19 years of anti-incumbency against the Naveen government meant that BJP had a good chance.

First, the BJP emerged as the main opposition to BJD. It onboarded almost 100 senior leaders of BJD, key ones being Jay Panda and Damodar Rout, and managed to hold back Bijoy Mohapatra – Dilip Ray duo.

Then through an advertising blitz, Modi became a household name. In 2014, at the peak of Modi wave nationally, people had not seen and heard much about Modi in the tribal/rural state. Now due to his posters splashed across state run petrol pumps, Modi has become a household name.

The air strikes were very popular in the state and Modi emerged as the strongman of Indian politics, after Indira, especially among the youth. The state which never witnessed split/differential voting due to simultaneous elections held for state as well as Lok Sabha, for the first time was echoing ‘Modi at the Centre, Naveen (Patnaik) in the state.

As per NDTV’s poll of polls, BJP is expected to win 11 (+10) and BJD 10 (-10). Congress again is likely to fail to open its account.

The BJD announced one-third of the tickets to women in Lok Sabha polls. Due to this factor and to negate anti-incumbency BJD changed 17 out of its 20 MPs. Some fell in the lap of the BJP and are expected to win.

There were also allegations that BJD-BJP are hand in glove with each other and Naveen has deliberately put up weak candidates. Contest in Odisha was between Modi and min-Modi. Naveen in many ways is similar to Modi, honest/simple image, bachelor and non-corrupt personality.

The Hindi adage ‘loha hi lohe ko katta hai’ seems to have worked for the BJP.

The BJP has been working on the tribal vote bank in the state for many years now. Scheduled Tribes account for 22% of the state population. Through the RSS Eklavya and Shishu Mandir schools, the party has been making inroads among them and they seem to have backed the party.

The party managed to exploit this simmering anger against the Naveen Patnaik government. The state is ranked 25th in HDI (Human Development Index), 32% people live below the poverty line, per capita income is much lesser than the national average.

Party’s gains in eastern India compensate for expected losses in UP

As per NDTV poll of polls, BJP/NDA is expected to lose 24 seats in UP. The gains in Bengal (+12) and Odisha (+11) are expected to fully compensate for these losses.

The BJP has clearly moved ahead and is no longer a party of Hindi bhaasi people and banias. Its presence is now in nook and corner of the country.