Why BJP is all set to lose bid to return to power in 2024 polls

A region wise analysis indicates that the ruling party at the Centre is unlikely to be successful in retaining power for a third term when the nation goes for the General Election due in 2024

Why BJP is all set to lose bid to return to power in 2024 polls

Nitya Chakraborty

All the major political parties in the country are beginning their preparations to contest the next General Election, due to be held in just around eighteen months, in March/April of 2024. Many of them are keen to see the BJP, ruling at the Centre since 2014, getting trounced. The cumulative impact on the country of its divisive brand of politics and disastrous, self-serving policies are now clear as daylight and not lost on anyone.

Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao has given a call for a ‘BJP-mukt India’, countering BJP’s tall talk of a ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’. He did so while addressing a rally in Patna in the presence of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who has already declared his intent to reach out to all Opposition parties to form a viable front to take on the right-wing forces in the 2024 polls.

A new prospect for such an initiative is AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal, who has taken affront to the BJP-ruled Centre deploying the CBI and the ED against his party’s senior leaders. In his own way, he has given a call for the overthrow of the PM Narendra Modi-led government.

Meanwhile, some media publications and poll forecasting agencies recently have concluded on the basis of some surveys carried out by them that the BJP is likely to lose seats in the next election even if it manages to retain power at the Centre.

If sources are to be believed, even the BJP’s own poll trackers are reported to have given varying assessment about the BJP's performance, which ranges from a slim majority at the upper end to garnering 240-250 seats, opposed to the 303 it won the last time around in 2019.

This writer has made some zone-wise estimates on the basis of the 2019 poll results along with the changes evident through rural and urban bodies’ polls in the states, as also the bypolls that have taken place in the last 39 months since the 2019 polls.

The BJP reached its peak with 303 seats out of the total 543, and now this figure can only go down. But the question is, of course, the extent of it.

Let us start from the southern zone, where the BJP’s position is weakest. The states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka have a total of 129 seats, out of which BJP currently has 29 seats – 25 from Karnataka and 4 from Telangana.

As of now, there is no question of the party winning any seat in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

In Andhra Pradesh, the BJP has a stronghold in two districts, but the YCSRC led by Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy has done extensive work in those districts, which bore fruit in the local body elections held there some months back. He is solidly entrenched, and the BJP is in no position to create any crack in his support base.

As regards Telangana, the BJP has made some inroads in urban areas, but the TRC chief and incumbent Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao has effectively checked its advance. All reports suggest that there is no question of the BJP gaining any additional seat in the state above the present four. In fact, this figure is only likely to go down.

The real battlefield state in the region, Karnataka, is going to witness a fierce battle in both the coming Assembly elections in early 2023 as also in 2024 Lok Sabha polls. In 2019 polls, the BJP got 25 seats out of the total of 28, while the Congress and JD(S) got one and an NDA supported independent candidate got one.

The Congress formed ministry in Karnataka after the last Assembly elections, but the defections organised by the BJP led to the fall of the government and the formation of the BJP ministry. Presently, the BJP government in Karnataka is in a mess. The ministers are openly making money and for the first time, the contractors association have come out against the government alleging that no order could be received from the Karnataka government departments without giving 40 per cent of the amount as bribe. Astounding indeed.

As per some old sources in the IT industry in Bengaluru, the Silicon Valley of India, industry honchos who supported Narendra Modi in the last Lok Sabha polls are worried. The social harmony in the state is at stake as the fringe Hindutva groups are on a rampage in Karnataka with no control from the state government. The fear is that the state BJP will go to its extreme to play the communal card, just as the party played in state assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.

The Congress has good base in rural areas in Karnataka. Presently, the two top leaders – former chief minister Siddaramaiah and the state president D K Shivkumar – are working jointly. That’s a good sign, and the party is expected to do well in both Assembly and the Lok Sabha polls. The Congress certainly has the potential to extract at least another ten seats from the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls.

Now about the eastern region including Bengal, Bihar, Odisha and Jharkhand. In Bengal, by all counts, BJP will be losing minimum 12 seats in the next Lok Sabha polls. In 2019 polls, the BJP got 18 seats from four seats in 2014 polls. In the period since then, all poll results including Assembly, civic polls and the by polls show continuing decline in the BJP support base.

Mamata Banerjee and her party, TMC are presently bogged in corruption related issues of former minister Partha Chatterjee and powerful Birbhum district president Anubrata Mandal, but this is unlikely to affect the TMC prospects in the coming panchayat elections in 2023 and the Lok Sabha polls in 2024.

Prashant Kishor’s agency I-PAC has silently done the groundwork to build a robust poll machinery and as of now, and BJP is no match to it. Mamata Banerjee’s traditional base among the Muslims, village and urban poor and women is intact.

Bihar is another state which will help in sealing the fate of the BJP. Out of 40 seats, BJP got 17 seats in 2019 polls while the JD(U) got 15 as its NDA ally and LJP 6. The present combination of Mahagathbandhan in Bihar is based on a widest social composition in the state covering 70 per cent of the electorate. As such, the BJP will be lucky to get even two to three seats from this state, losing a minimum 14 to 15 seats.

In Odisha and Jharkhand, the BJP will make all efforts to improve its tally, but in Odisha, with the BJD led by CM Naveen Patnaik in complete control, the BJP hopes may not materialize. In fact, BJP seats may go down from the present 8 out of the total seats of 21.

In Jharkhand also, the BJP got a maximum 11 out of the total seats of 14. The BJP seats may go down if the alliance led by Hemant Soren sticks together and works jointly.

For the BJP, the northern states are the main route to its road to power at the Centre. This region has 192 seats and in the 2019 poll, the BJP got 156 seats, an unusually high number, taking into account the fact that the BJP got 28 out of 29 seats in Madhya Pradesh, 25 out of 26 seats in Rajasthan and 9 out of 11 seats in Chhattisgarh.

With the Congress led by seasoned leaders like Kamal Nath, Ashok Gehlot and Bhupesh Baghel, who are immersed in organisational work, there is a good possibility of the BJP losing at least 25 seats out of the present total of 62 seats at present.

As regards Uttar Pradesh, which sends 80 members to the Lok Sabha, the BJP got 62 seats in 2019 elections, BSP 10, SP 5 and the Congress 1. The BSP is on a decline and a major part of its base has to the BJP and the Samajwadi Party. The latter is working hard and it has the potential to grab the seats earlier held by the BSP.

The BJP high command knows the importance of UP and that is why the duo of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah are prompt in taking corrective actions, when these are needed. The party will seek to improve its position in UP, but it is up against Opposition parties raring to get even with it.

In Punjab, BJP has only two seats out of the total of 13. The party is in such a pathetic condition in the state that it may even lose both these seats.

In Delhi, the BJP got all seven in the last Lok Sabha polls. Now the situation is completely different. Despite melodramatic behaviour by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, his party AAP has been able to make inroads into the electorate. It will not be surprising if AAP gets about five out of seven seats in the next Lok Sabha polls.

In Haryana also, the BJP cannot maintain the level of the present 10 seats out of ten. The party can lose one or two of them.

In the Western region, the two major states of Maharashtra and Gujarat have a total of 74 seats out of which BJP got 49 seats – 23 in Maharashtra and all 26 in Gujarat.

Right now, the political scene in Maharashtra is in fluid state. It is not clear as to what extent Eknath Shinde has been able to get the Shiv Sena base in his favour. The BJP-Eknath combination will be formidable if Shinde is able to take over Uddhav Thakeray, even though it seems highly unlikely right now. Some clarity may be available after the Mumbai corporation elections shortly. In any case, with the BJP getting the maximum in 2019 polls, its scope for further gains is not much.

In the North East region, out of the 25 seats, the BJP has got 12 and the regional parties the remaining 13. The BJP has 9 seats in Assam out of 14 in last poll. If the Congress allies with the regional anti-BJP parties in the 2024 polls, it can spring a surprise. The Trinamool Congress will also try to be a part of anti-BJP alliance before the 2024 polls.

In Tripura, the BJP currently has both the seats but if there is an alliance between the CPI(M) led Left Front, Congress and Trinamool, the BJP will lose them both.

In any case, there is little scope for the BJP gaining much in the region. The regional parties there always support the ruling combination at the Centre, whether it is BJP or the Congress. If there is a hung Parliament after the Lok Sabha polls, the BJP cannot be sure that the present NDA parties will stick to it.

Overall, it is clear in the present scenario that the BJP is likely to lose at least 80 to 85 seats nationally, if not more.

With the Congress, the main national Opposition party – which will face the BJP in a straight contest in 170 to 180 seats – getting rejuvenated and ready for the forthcoming battle when it ensues, the saffron party is all set to be tossed aside by the country’s electorate in the 2024 general election.

(IPA Service)

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