For a party that had got used to losing, seemed aloof, lost in the political wilderness, cadres demoralized and its president caricatured, there is a lot to cheer about in the aftermath of the Assembly election results. In the three Hindi-speaking States, where it was locked in a direct contest with the ruling BJP, the Congress has performed exceedingly well. In Chhattisgarh, the party probably exceeded even its own expectations, winning more than two-thirds majority. In Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, it was a nail biting thriller, but the Congress did enough to form governments in all these States. The results of these three states undoubtedly signal the end of BJP’s electoral invincibility. These have raised hopes of revival of the grand old party as the country gears up for the general election in 2019.
If the results are interpreted as pointers to the 2019 election, then the Congress is still short of where it would like to be. But the results are enough to infuse the party leadership and its workers with the confidence that it is on the comeback trail. However, losses in Telangana and Mizoram have taken some fuzz out of the euphoria generated by the wins. The results of five states mark the end of the unipolar politics.
For the BJP, the results are an opportunity to introspect. When so many of your ministers lose an election, it is a clear message that there is something amiss. The results are a pointer that resentment has built amongst the very sections that voted for the BJP in 2014- the farmers, traders, youth, who are unhappy with the end result of the of demonetization, implementation of GST and absence of jobs. Personal attacks and attempts to discredit members of entire Gandhi family too did not work for the BJP. However, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi’s popularity is still intact. Modi, symbolised hope and promise in 2014 and his track record shows he cannot be underestimated even in 2019. General elections are still four months away and four months is a pretty long time in politics.
The semifinal is over and there are lessons to be learnt. Never write the obituary of a party or a leader and that too of a party that is 133 years old, and a leader who belongs to a family which has produced three prime ministers. Rahul Gandhi’s leadership has infused life into the Congress and he has proved that he is capable of making the BJP sweat even in its fortress. Yet the Congress must also understand that a win in state assemblies is no way a guarantee of a win in 2019. It is still well and truly an open contest. In the end, irrespective of who won in these state assemblies, it is a good news for the democracy.