By Dr. Gyan Pathak
Opposition politics in India is changing fast, especially after the remarkable performance of the Congress in Karnataka assembly polls. The party was able to throw BJP out of power in the state due to a paradigm shift in the minority, OBC, ST, and SC votes towards the party, which has served as an alert not only to the BJP but also to other opposition political parties.
A preliminary assessment of the Congress performance shows that if it maintains such a performance during the Lok Sabha election, BJP could lose its 17 seats out of 25 it had won in the 2019 Lok Sabha election from this state. BJP has altogether 29 seats from South Indian states where there are 129 seats out of 543 in the Lok Sabha. BJP thus faces a prospect of winning Lok Sabha seats in merely in single digit from Southern India.
Though the BJP is trying its best to penetrate in the southern states, the party has bleak chances of success. If the party is almost driven out from the southern states, their only refuse is the northern India. BJP had won 283 seats from northern India in 2019 Lok Sabha Election, many of them are now threatened by the rise of Congress, as we have seen in Karnataka. In Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Rajasthan, BJP had won 28, 9 and 24 seats respectively, very many of them they are likely to lose in 2024 even if we take into account the single factor or shift in minority votes towards Congress reducing the chances of division of their votes among other political parties. ST, SC and OBC votes seen shifting in Karnataka in large number is additional concern for the BJP.
Shift in Minority votes towards Congress has been seen recently in Uttar Pradesh too, during the Municipal bodies’ elections. BJP had won 62 seats from the state in 2019 Lok Sabha election, and any loss of seats this time would prove costly to the party. Though Congress lost at least three seats to BJP in Municipal Corporation, it sufficiently indicated shift in Muslim votes towards the Congress at the cost of Samajwadi Party candidates.
The Congress candidate lost to the BJP candidate by around 3500 votes in Moradabad, was runner up in Jhansi, and left behind by only about 30,000 votes in Shahjahanpur. The shift in the Muslim votes away from SP is an alarm for the hitherto adamant Akhilesh Yadav who had announced to contest the Lok Sabha poll without the alliance with Congress. Rather he said that his party would make alliances with the regional party. However, the regional parties, such as RLD, seems not keen for alliance with SP. RLD leader Jayant Choudhary is seriously trying to make alliance with the Congress ignoring SP. Uttar Pradesh urban local bodies election has sufficiently revealed that SP cannot take Muslim support for granted, and hence Congress, BSP, and AIMIM are trying their best to woo Muslim votes away from SP. The new pattern of voting by Muslims is an alert for all opposition political parties in Uttar Pradesh.
BJP is therefore happy in this situation and they have set their target to win all 80 Lok Sabha seats. This target is too ambitious on account of disenchantment among the youth with a large number of them unemployed. Win of highest number of independents in the municipalities election in the state shows that there is an undercurrent of anti-establishment sensibilities among the people due to which BJP won much less seats.
It should be noted that Brahmins, Muslims and Dalits were the traditional vote bank of Congress in Uttar Pradesh. Shift in Muslim and ST votes seen in Karnataka is also seen in urban local bodies’ election is something that will compel realignment of opposition in the state.
Sharad Pawar in Maharashtra has come forward in favour of grand alliance of the opposition with Congress. BJP had won 23 seats in 2019 out of 48 in the state. The cooperative election results recently have shown that MVA has an upper hand in the state, and split in Shiv Sena is not working for the BJP-Shinde alliance.
In alliance with JD(U) of Nitish Kumar, BJP had won 17 seats in 2019 out of 40 Lok Sabha seat. The alliance has broken now and CM Nitish Kumar is working for grand alliance of opposition with Congress at the national level too. BJP is thus set to lose in Bihar. In Jharkhand, opposition is in power, and has been emerging stronger. BJP had won 11 out of 14 seats in the state in 2019 with overwhelming support of Mahto community, which are angry now. They have been demanding ST status for them and BJP leaders of the state and the Centre are against their demand. BJP is thus likely to lose more than half of their seats in the forthcoming Lok Sabha election.
All the 26 seats of Gujarat were won by BJP in 2019 Lok Sabha election. However, the Vidhan Sabha election result shows that AAP was able to enter into the BJP stronghold, though winning only a few seats. The shift of Muslim votes as seen in Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh may tilt the balance in favour of Congress in several seats. BJP cannot hope for winning all the seats in 2024 elections.
In Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, where BJP had won 10 and 4 seats respectively in 2019, may lose several of them this time. Jats of Haryana and several other communities have become dead against the ruling BJP in the Centre and the state, while the Congress has thrown BJP out of power in Himachal Pradesh in recent legislative assembly election. Likely shift of votes towards Congress could pose real threat to the BJP.
All seven seats in Delhi were won by BJP in 2019, but people seem to be against them. In the recent MCD polls, BJP lost its 15 years rule after humiliating defeat. AAP has been emerging stronger. Centre has brought and ordinance to curb the right of elected AAP government in the state, and CM Kejriwal is trying to have support from the Congress against it. It may lead to tacit understanding between the two parties for the 2024 election. BJP is thus set to lose in the NCT Delhi.
Mamata in West Bengal has emerged stronger than in 2019, when BJP could win 18 Lok Sabha seats. State BJP is now in very bad shape, and they cannot repeat their last performance in 2024. Congress is weak in Bengal, it may contest the Lok Sabha polls against Trinamool Congress as also the BJP in alliance with the Left. But indications suggest that the TMC will be able to corner most of the Lok Sabha seats due to the division of anti-TMC votes.
The emerging situation favours the opposition as against the BJP, but all political parties need to tread carefully to derive maximum advantage by not allowing division of anti-BJP votes. (IPA Service)