With election round the corner, various surveys and speculations are doing rounds in the media. As per media reports, Bharatiya Janata Party may not be able to secure as many seats this time as it did in the previous Lok Sabha election in big states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. However, the media appears to have ignored the fact that BJP, which is likely to repeat its performance, would also have prepared for the worst scenario.
In order to secure a majority once again and cope with any setback it receives from its strong hold, BJP has worked hard to extend its cadre in 9 states including the Northeast states, Orissa and West Bengal. A total of 88 Lok Sabha seats are divided among these states with 42 seats falling in West Bengal, 21 in Orissa, 2 each in Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Tripura and 1 each in Sikkim, Nagaland and Mizoram. There are speculations that out of these 88 seats, BJP will atleast win 50 to 55 seats, comfortably filling the gap that may be created by losing seats in Bihar UP and MP.
In West Bengal, the Mamata Banerjee bastion, BJP is expanding its cadre at a steady pace. Many big and dissented leaders of TMC being fed up of the dictatorial conduct of Mamata and his nephew Abhishek Banerjee crossed over to the Saffron Party. In a massive blow to the Mamata Banerjee led Trinamool Congress (TMC), former party general secretary, Shankudeb Panda reportedly joined the Bharatiya Janata Party. Apart from him, veteran actor Biswajit Chatterjee and Ranjan Bhattacharya also joined the party. In January this year, senior TMC leader, Saumitra Khan had quit TMC and joined BJP. In the previous general election, BJP could win only 2 seats in West Bengal, however, it is expecting to secure at least 20 this time.
A similar outcome is likely for the BJP in the Northeast states. The North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), an alliance of NDA in seven sister states, is toiling hard under its convener Hemanta Biswa Sharma to ensure BJP’s triumph in the states. Various surveys have speculated that NEDA might be able to bag at least 13 out of 25 Lok Sabha seats in North-East, while 10 may go in the favour of UPA and 2 can go to others’ kitty.
In Assam, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) has joined hands with the BJP yet again. The AGP had parted ways with the BJP, a couple of months ago over the issue of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. However, in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, both the parties have come together for a pre-poll alliance. As of now, there is no clarity about the number of seats on which the AGP will field its candidates. It seems that a decision on seat-sharing will be taken in the coming days. Moreover, Bodo People’s Front (BPF) has already named state minister Pramila Rani Brahma as its candidate from Kokrajhar. The BJP is in an alliance with the BDF and the AGP which makes the NDA, a united and organised force in the state of Assam. Recent reports hint that senior Assam Congress leaders, Gautam Roy, Kirip Chaliha are likely to join the BJP as well. On the other hand, defecting leaders are becoming one of Congress’ salient problems all over the country. Gautam Roy and Kirip Chaliha are both considerably influential in the state of Assam and would be important assets for the BJP in case they join the party. Assam will go to polls in the first phase of Lok Sabha polls. Voting will take place in the 14 Lok Sabha constituencies of the state in the first three phases of the polls. As of now, the BJP enjoys a position of strength in the state. In Assam rural polls towards the fag end of last year, BJP surged ahead of all other parties in the state even though the AGP had contested the polls independently. Despite protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, the BJP won a majority of seats in the autonomous tribal council polls.
In Orissa, a senior and influential MP of Biju Janata Dal (BJD), Jay Panda, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party and has been appointed as the National Vice-President and spokesperson. Jay Panda has been a party stalwart and associated with BJD ever since its formation in 1997. Currently, Jay Panda is serving his fourth term in the Parliament. He not only enjoys massive support in his constituency, but also has an impact on a substantial section of the Odia media. Moreover, he has a good connect with the youth as well. He enjoys a mass following on social media and has been an admirer of the policies of Modi government.
BJP has been on an upswing in all these states for quite a while and important opposition leaders joining the party is set to bolster its poll prospects. All these factors indicate that even if BJP loses some seats in UP, MP and Bihar, it will fill the gap by winning seats in these states. However, main stream media seems to be missing this factor.