This Monday, i.e. 18 December 2017 saw the results of two state assembly elections being declared, namely that of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. Out of these two states, all eyes were focused on the outcome of the Gujarat elections which had seen high octane campaigning prior to the elections in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as the newly crowned President of the Congress Party Rahul Gandhi had held rallies across the state. Gujarat is a known bastion of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which has been in power in the state since 22 years. The Congress had tried all sorts of strategies in order to encash this 22 year old anti-incumbency factor but ultimately it failed to stop the BJP which retained power in Gujarat by winning 99 of the 182 seats in the assembly, just one seat short of a century.
Whether it was the campaigning phase or the election phase or on the result day, Gujarat was the focal point and Himachal Pradesh was ignored to a large extent during the entire phase of the elections. However, the outcome of the Himachal Pradesh elections was even more noteworthy than the Gujarat one. Why? Because Himachal Pradesh joins the list of states where the Congress has lost its power to the BJP. With the defeat in the Himachal Pradesh elections, the Congress has been reduced to holding power only in four states which are Karnataka, Punjab, Meghalaya, and Mizoram. The BJP on the other hand is in power in a whopping 19 states across the country, most of them on its own and some as an alliance partner like in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, and Jammu & Kashmir. This is the first time in 24 years that one single party or rather one political alliance is in power in 19 states across the country.
It is really incredible to see how the BJP has emerged in this manner in just three years. Before the 2014 general elections, the BJP was in power in just the following states, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, and Chhatisgarh on its own and as an alliance partner in Punjab, Nagaland, and Sikkim. Meanwhile, the Congress was in power in 13 states at this point of time. After the 2014 general elections, the country has seen 18 elections being held in various states and union territories out of which the BJP has emerged victorious in 11. The Congress could win only in two of these 18, namely in Punjab and Pondicherry.
Out of the top 10 most populated states in India, the BJP is in power on its own in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Gujarat. It is in power as a junior partner in an alliance with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Andhra Pradesh.
The only state in this list of the ten most populated states in the country where the Congress is in power is Karnataka. West Bengal and Tamil Nadu are the other two states in this list and are the only states in this list where neither the BJP nor the Congress is in power. The Trinamool Congress (TMC) is in power in West Bengal and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) is in power in Tamil Nadu.
Also, the BJP was able to form the government even when the odds were against it. For instance, the North Eastern part of the country has been an area where the BJP was almost non-existent. However, today out of the seven North Eastern states, the BJP is in power on its own in Assam and as a part of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) as well as the recently formed North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) for which the BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma acts as the Convener. Even when the results were not comprehensively in the favour of the BJP, it was able to outsmart the Congress and form the government in Goa, Arunachal Pradesh, and Manipur.
Every state election is important and the BJP has taken each of them seriously. One of the hurdles for the Modi government to initiate reforms was its low strength in the Rajya Sabha where the Congress and its allies were in majority. Due to this majority, very often, the opposition parties disrupted the proceedings of the Parliament as a result many bills could not be passed as planned. With every state election, the BJP gets an opportunity to increase its strength in the Rajya Sabha which is crucial for it to initiate reforms such as the Uniform Civil Code.
After Nitish Kumar broke off the Mahagatbandhan alliance and went back to form the government in Bihar with the BJP, it was reported that 67% of India’s population was now under the BJP rule. With the latest victory in Himachal Pradesh, this percentage has now risen to 67.57%.
In contrast to this, the Congress has been reduced to such a situation where the only major states where it is in power are Karnataka and Punjab. Elections are due to be held in Karnataka in 2018 which will be the first major state to go for polls in the year preceding the 2019 general elections.
2018 will also see elections being held in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, Rajasthan, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Tripura. As of now, the BJP is in power in MP, Chhatisgarh, Rajasthan, and Nagaland. The Congress is in power in Meghalaya and Mizoram. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) is in power in Tripura. If the year begins with a defeat in Karnataka for the Congress, then 2018 will be an even more difficult year for the party. As far as the BJP is concerned, 2018 presents an opportunity to further cement its position as the most dominant political party in the country. 2018 surely will be another crucial year and the elections that will be held across the country in the year will act as a precursor to the mega general elections which will be held in 2019. Prime Minister Modi and the BJP President Amit Shah have spoken about having a Congress mukt Bharat on several occasions. Only four states stand in their way of achieving this. Will the BJP be able to achieve a Congress mukt Bharat? Well, we will get to know that in 2018.