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Price hike, joblessness, slow economy. Yet, it’s advantage BJP in Maharashtra & Haryana

Less than a month to go for polls, BJP and Congress have yet to kickstart the campaign. But both have their own reasons.

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Two states ruled by the BJP — Maharashtra and Haryana — are going to the polls in less than a month. But the heightened campaign activities as well as the pre-poll analysis with screaming headlines on news channels, which usually follow the Election Commission’s announcement of the poll schedule, are missing this time.

If the campaign for the 21 October elections hasn’t really kicked off, then it has a lot to do with where the two national parties, the BJP and the Congress, stand at the moment.

A confident BJP

A few surveys conducted by some media houses already predict a majority win for the BJP in both Maharashtra and Haryana, with opposition parties nowhere in the race. Ironically, both these states were once the Congress strongholds.

But not everything is hunky-dory in these two states. There are serious issues of governance, law and order, fringe elements asserting their power, and the economy not showing signs of revival. Yet, both first-time chief ministers, Maharashtra’s Devendra Fadnavis and Haryana’s Manohar Lal Khattar, who were handpicked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have been able to tide over all hurdles and complete their respective terms.

The BJP seems confident of its victory in both the states, not least because of the party’s social media reach.

With the number of internet users in India expected to touch 627 million (62.7 crore) by the end of 2019, the BJP has been at the forefront of realising the power of social media. The party’s hold over social media and its ability to use it to its best advantage are far superior to possibly any advanced commercial enterprise, let alone a political party.

Already, social media is abuzz with Modi’s resounding victory over Imran Khan’s anti-India campaign in the US. The ‘Howdy, Modi!’ event in Houston, Texas, was probably one of the most-viewed events across the world.

The euphoria over the event and the current state of the opposition in India make the BJP confident of a win in the forthcoming elections.

Also read: Ahead of Maharashtra polls, Congress has given up, but Sharad Pawar’s NCP still fighting

Congress, others in disarray

Rise in prices of onion and fuel, joblessness, loss of farm produce due to floods, and the general feeling of a slowing economy are issues that the opposition can highlight in the run-up to elections. But the lack of a campaign strategy, mass exits and the image of aligning with corrupt elements have hurt the Congress’ prospects.

In Maharashtra, for instance, the biggest challenge for the Congress-NCP combine is to check the exodus of state-level leaders and a number of foot soldiers at the district level.

The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had been contesting the elections in the state together since 1999 until Sharad Pawar’s NCP decided to go it solo in 2014. While both parties have announced a seat-sharing pact in the state, differences have emerged over some key seats.

At the national level, the Congress has led an abysmally poor campaign against the PM so far. The party is risking its credibility by criticising the Modi government on issues of foreign policy and national security. Belatedly though, the party has raised economic issues. “The BJP government is now recognised by slowdown and lockdown. The current government is a capitalist government that has been made by capitalists and run by capitalists,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said last week.

But by and large, the Congress has played second fiddle. In Haryana too, the Congress has lost ground mainly due to alleged acts of commission and omission. Congress spokesperson Ashok Tanwar seems to be locking horns with his party veteran and former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda. The party has since replaced him as its state unit chief.

Even the Congress’s social media team is headless and the party has decided not to appoint anyone until elections, thus giving the BJP a walkover.

Also read: Congress is so desperate to survive in Maharashtra it wants to ally with fringe player SP

Advantage BJP

All this has turned into ‘advantage BJP’. The party is preparing for a campaign blitzkrieg using ‘Howdy, Modi!’ and US President Donald Trump’s praise of the PM. Domestic popularity surveys are not in vogue in India unlike in the US. If any such survey is done here, one can be sure of a surge in Modi’s already-high popularity ratings.

The BJP appears to be getting ready for a repeat performance in Maharashtra and Haryana, winning a comfortable majority, thanks in large part to the Congress’ inertia.

The author is a member of the National Executive Committee of the BJP and former editor of Organiser. Views are personal.

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  1. For your information all top European countries with top per capita income and considered happiest countries believe in socialist mediocrity. They call it welfarism.

  2. Price hike, joblessness and slow economy can make impact on people’s electoral choice when the credibility and trustworthiness of the leader is low and going down. This is not the case with Modi whose credibility and trust worthiness is high and increasing day by day. ThePrint must be knowing that it’s the confidence of retail investors that motivate them to buy the falling stock of companies with untainted image of its management and past performance. ThePrint could have given a positive title to the article . By giving negative title to the article, thePrint has tried to offer some consolation to Modi haters.

    • Never happened in last 200 years and not happening in next 200 as well, irrespective of who rules in Delhi, the Brits, Congress, BJP, Communists etc. India has a chance if someone like Rajaji and his Swatantra party get a chance, but that’s not happening. So India and the subcontinent is doomed to socialist mediocrity. Kashmir, Art 370, Triple talaq, Ram Mandir etc. are all side shows. The elephant in the room is the state of economy, which nobody wants to talk about.

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