BJP’s defeat in Chitrakoot indicates troubles in Gujarat for the party

Bypolls were held in Chitrakoot constituency in Madhya Pradesh on 9 Nov, and Congress defeated the BJP candidate with a margin of 14,000 votes. Though this victory did not add to any seats in the Congress, nor decrease the number in BJP figures, but it sure left the BJP workers morally shaken. The seat was already under the Congress after it won in 2013 bypolls, and the party just re-won it.

The victory of Congress is a major blow to the BJP not in terms of number of seats each party posses, but to the morale of the BJP workers, as Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, himself had campaigned hard for the elections.

65% of the voters turned out for the polls, which seems like a huge number for a bypoll and Congress leader Nilanshu Chaturvedi defeated the BJP’s Shankar Dayal Tripathi by a margin of over 14, 000 votes.

This win of Congress, though not a very big one, but is surely indication the rising popularity of the Congress and the fading Modi wave in the country. This victory has not only boosted the confidence of the Congress but has also risen the hopes of the party for the assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh due next year. However, such small level polls cannot be taken into account to analyze the outcome of the Lok Sabha elections due in 2019, but it is nonetheless showing a ray of hope to the opposition party.

This victory is also somehow indicating that a major chunk of the population that belongs to the businessmen and trading sectors are slowly changing their otherwise positive approach towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Demonetization and GST can undoubtedly be named the reason for the growing unhappiness of the people across the nation.

However, the experts suggest that the even though even as small a victory as bypolls is important for the Congress, it should not be over hiked and seen as an indicator of declining popularity of Modi and BJP. The reason for not considering Chitrakoot a major blow for Congress is that the party has always had a stronghold on the constituency. it has won the Chitrakoot seat during the 1998, 2003 and 2013 Assembly elections by very large margins.

Though what can be a matter of concern for the BJP is the trend that the Congress is following. The significant victory of Congress in Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat and the rising popularity of the party in the poll-bound Gujarat is what the BJP should be worried about. The BJP got badly defeated by the Congress by more than 1.8 lakh votes in the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat, which was earlier held by its popular MP Vinod Khanna.

Nonetheless, the surveys show that BJP is way ahead of Congress in Gujarat which goes to poll on 9 and 14 Dec but the pace at which the opposition is heading is remarkable. If Congress continues with the type of campaigning in Gujarat for the next three weeks, it may not be very surprising, if it manages to lure the many upset Gujratis to its side and push the BJP on the backfoot.

Surveys, conducted by Lokniti-CSDS, clearly indicated that the unhappiness amongst the people is rising rapidly against the Modi made disasters of demonetization and GST. The survey concluded that “The unhappiness over demonetization and GST is turning traders away from the BJP in sizeable numbers across many states. The dismal performance on the issue of employment generation by the Narendra Modi government has also resulted in a sizeable portion of the youth turning their back on the BJP.”

The Congress is working day and night in order to reach for a constitutional solution to the demands of the Patidars in Gujarat, without disturbing the already reserved quotas. The party earlier last week had also suggested that if Congress comes to power in Gujarat, in order to fulfill the demands of the Patidars, it may even form a new law granting 20% reservation to the community.

The party has already been successful in getting the OBC to their side and the Dalits and Patidars are also in constant communication to extend their support to Congress. With OBC in its court, if Patidars and Dalits also come forward to pledge their support to the party, the 2017 Gujarat assembly elections may be a tough game for the BJP.

Regarding the victory of Congress in the Chitrakoot bypolls, Sanjay Kumar, Director of Centre for the Study of Developing Societies said that “the results should be viewed as a moral defeat of the BJP rather than a moral victory of the Congress.” He said that these results have come as another blow to the BJP after the victory of Congress and Bawana, Gurdaspur and the DUSU debacle.

He did not wish to comment anything on the effect of these polls on the Gujarat elections or the Lok Sabha polls in 2019. He added that the high turnout of the voter, at least on Chitrakoot indicates that the electors were greatly interested in these polls and not that it is any way related to people’s incline towards BJP or Congress.

Regarding the victory of Congress in Bawana, Gurdaspur and DUSU Kumar said that, it may have an implication in Bawana and a serious one in Gurdaspur but the win in student polls should not be taken into account to campare it with the Lok Sabha elections.