If the recently concluded Assembly elections are any referendum on the upcoming 2019 polls, both the BJP and the Congress need to grapple with potential blind spots. While the Congress appears seemingly energised at the moment, the party is handicapped without alliances and relies heavily on the old guard. This dependence on the old faction brings along an archaic thought process coupled with a dated style of operation.
Not being able to stitch a meaningful alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan ensured the Congress only led to a narrow winning streak. This learning will thrust the party further towards veteran leaders, a gamble that may backfire in times to come.
While the Congress appears seemingly energised at the moment, the party is handicapped without alliances and relies heavily on the old guard. (Photo: PTI)
What has worked for India’s oldest political outfit is perhaps the ability to adapt after a series of defeats. A slew of temple visits by the party chief was in response to the increasing wave of Hindutva and the debate around his ethnicity. However, going by historical trends there is an alarming incidence of the ruling party getting a second chance, as was the case when the reticent Manmohan Singh was elected twice.
How the Congress party takes the lead in not just weaving a new set of poll promises but building ground conviction remains key to striking a chord with an impatient electorate.
The BJP, on the other hand, has its hands full with areas to focus on in the near term. While the cadre failed to enthuse voters in the face of swelling anti-incumbency, a lot of lost ground was recovered at the last minute using hi-pitch campaigning, making it a tightly fought battle. In fact in Madhya Pradesh, the party was ahead in vote share by 0.1%.
The BJP should stay away from issues that steer it away from developmental promises of 2014. (Photo: PTI)
With a 0-3 loss in all of the three Hindi heartland states, the party will now have to course correct by clearly reading the electorate's expectations. Ensuring more of ‘Kam’ than ‘Ram’, showcasing performance and translating schemes into real development. The immediate narrative for the BJP can include none other than farmers, youth, poor and backward segments besides targeting the issue of unemployment.
Vital on the cards should also be avoiding the urge to continuously defame the Gandhi family and the Congress party’s misdeeds – which in effect steers them away from developmental promises of 2014. Especially given the BJP is in power and has the strength to implement the agenda. Trumpeting non-performance of the opposition which has ruled over 60 years does not inspire confidence in a demography that is looking for meaning and purpose in the run-up to the 2019 goal post.