Is BJP Unaware of the Consequences of CAA Or is it all Well- Strategized?

Not a single day passes when the Modi-Shah govt fails to dominate the news headlines. The Modi govt after it has assumed office has delivered several ‘historic’ judgements like: Triple talaq, abrogation of Article 370, Ayodhya judgement and the recent Citizenship Amendment Act. One phrase goes true, that is, you can either applaud or criticise the Modi govt but you cannot ignore it.

However, even after these key decisions, it seems the Bharatiya Janata Party, has miserably failed to turn the situation in its favour, as the reverse has happened with the Modi Govt, something it had never thought of. The oppositions parties can although rejoice over this, as they were sceptical that the decisions would help BJP increase its popularity and support base.

The elections to the three state assembly elections- Haryana, Maharashtra and Jharkhand prove that the ruling party failed to understand the mood of the voters and the judgements it delivered did no good to the saffron party.

In Haryana, the seat tally came down from 47 seats in 2014 assembly polls to 40 seats in 2019 state assembly elections. A loss of 7 seats, at a time when there were speculations that abrogation of article 370 will immensely help BJP increase its number of seats in the elections held last year. Similarly, riding the Modi wave and the Nationalism agenda, the number of seats for BJP fell from 122 seats in 2014 Maharashtra assembly elections to 105 seats in the state assembly elections held last year. And what came as a blow to the top bastion of BJP, was the Jharkhand assembly election results 2019. The charisma of PM Modi could not work in Jharkhand, and the party performed miserably in the last year assembly polls.

In 2019 Jharkhand assembly elections, the BJP was limited to only 25 seats, as compared to 37seats it secured in the previous assembly elections. The party tried in vain to make up for local dissatisfaction by bringing in national issues and a polarising push. The latest, Jharkhand poll debacle may prompt BJP to have a second look at the policy to work on its strategies to hold the lead. BJP now rules states accounting for under 40% of India’s territory, down from 70% three years ago.

Read more: BJP’s Poll Debacle: How BJP Failed to Understand the mood of voters

Perceptions about Modi-Shah duo’s capability to create successful political campaigns has taken a serious hit ahead of crucial elections in Delhi, West Bengal, Bihar and Tamil Nadu.

CAA and its impact on Delhi assembly elections

India is set to hold assembly elections in its capital Delhi, providing a key test for whether the BJP can arrest a trend of losing states to regional and opposition alliances. Voting to the 70-member assembly will take place on February 8. As the Delhi assembly elections are approaching nearer, the BJP is busy making its own cost-benefit reports.

After the protests over CAA have rocked the entire country, particularly the national capital, BJP would definitely shy away from taking any immediate risks. The party has realised that unlike Ayodhya, where early preparations and reach out to people helped immensely in maintaining peace, no such measures during CAA has resulted in escalation of protests across the country.

Several BJP leaders have already started with door to door campaigns by distributing pamphlets containing facts about CAA. Earlier this year, Home minister Amit Shah kickstarted his pro-CAA campaign from the Jodhpur district of Rajasthan.

Past Delhi assembly elections show that in Delhi, polls are fought on local issues. Political parties are well aware of the fact that it is not easy to influence Delhi voters, considering their political awareness and understanding. Given this, either CAA, NPR or Article 370 are less likely to influence voters in the national capital. To BJP’s disadvantage, rising unemployment, GDP growth and the economic slowdown, are certain issues which the Delhi residents will keep in mind while casting their vote. On the other hand, AAP is seen as a formidable force against the BJP in Delhi. The AAP government has done remarkable work in education, healthcare and reduced the water and electricity bills.

Impact of CAA on West Bengal politics

The controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is all set to determine the course of West Bengal politics in the days to come. The BJP has maintained that the CAB will benefit more than 1.5 crore people across the country, including over 72 lakh in the West Bengal. West Bengal is bracing for deeper polarisation between TMC and the BJP on communal lines ahead of the 2021 Assembly polls.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has been a strong opponent of the CAA, since day one, is trying to shed her image of being only pro-minorities. The ruling TMC in West Bengal has certainly been on the back foot since BJP won 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in May 2019 — four seats short of the ruling party. Much of the votes for BJP were against TMC’s perceived shoddy governance and Banerjee’s quite unsophisticated display of ‘minority appeasement.’

Hindu refugees comprise between 10 and 15 per cent of the electorate and are a deciding factor in nearly 80 assembly seats in the state. Apart from that, Muslims account for 27% of the total population in West Bengal. Only time will tell whether the ‘contentious’ Citizenship Amendment Bill, will deepen consolidation of Hindu and Muslim votes in favour of the saffron party further or it would “backfire” like the NRC as both of them are attack on “Bengalis and Bengali pride”.

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Anju Yadav

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