They called it at quarter past 9 this morning when the BJP and its allies crossed the magic mark of 272 but I felt it prudent to wait till all leads were in. And an hour later, when all of the 542 seats are in, the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance is leading in over 320. Of these the BJP is on course to get 273 — a majority on its own, its allies, the Janata Dal United (JDU) —16— and Shiv Sena — 18— making up most of the other numbers.
Two states that are being talked about the most are Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. The BJP is also ahead in the three heartland states won by the Congress late last year – Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. And these aren’t close by a long shot — in Rajasthan, BJP is leading in all 25 seats, in Chhattisgarh in 9 of the 11, in MP the BJP seems to be getting all but one of the 29 seats.
BJP Retains Uttar Pradesh
In UP, which sends 80 lawmakers to the lower house of Parliament, the BJP and its allies had won 73 seats in 2014. Topping that would have been a Herculean task at best. Given that Akhilesh-Mayawati Mahagatbandhan (moor alliance between the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party), many predicted the BJP’s would come up a cropper in the state. That doesn’t seem to be happening.
The BJP and its ally Apna Dal are leading in 60 seats, the SP-BSP alliance in 16 and the Congress in two seats. If these trends hold, the Congress would do well to mull over their failure to achieve a larger opposition alliance and analyse how the Priyanka Gandhi factor failed to work in Eastern Uttar Pradesh. It is poignant to remember that this region gave 15 of the 21 seats Congress won from the state in 2009. In just a decade, the party has moved from that high to being limited in pocket boroughs — and that too not comfortably if initial leads from Rahul Gandhi’s seat are any indicator.
Saffron Surge in West Bengal
In West Bengal, where the polls have been acrimonious both in words and deed, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool has been unable to hold on to its stranglehold and the Left Front has been wiped out. Of the 42 seats that polled over five violence-marred phases, the Trinamool is leading in 21, the BJP has emerged as a strong Opposition in the state and looks set to be winning 17-18 seats — outdoing most pollsters’ expectations and the Congress doing well in Bahrampur and Maldah. It was widely expected that the BJP’s gains in the state would help offset losses elsewhere and the pundits seem to have called it right. Mamata Banerjee’s acerbic tactics do not seem to have stopped the saffron surge in the state. Historically, a state where the BJP or its earlier avatars like Jan Sangh have not fared well, this win may be seen as the harbinger of a new era of politics in which the Assembly Elections in 2021 would be the next stop.
In an interview to Zee News aired on May 9, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that he had no Plan B, C, D or E. Detractors scoffed and the politically wise said it was imprudent. His words ‘Aayega Modi Hi’ seem prophetic today as he heads comfortably towards a second term — and the Opposition eats humble pie yet again.