Next big challenge for Amith Shah : 120 Lok Sabha seats where BJP is hardly present

After the historic win for BJP in UP on Saturday, leader after leader praising our PM Narendra Modi and Amit Shah for the stunning victory in Uttar Pradesh. When everyone are floating in “Modi wave” and celebrating the “saffron holi” in country, two leaders are silently planning for next challenge. Yes Modi and  Shah did not say much about victory. They thanked the voters, party supporters, Party members, party workers who contributed in BJP’s big victory.

Amit Shah’s dominance may not end with a victory in Uttar Pradesh. Next project is on Amit Shah’s table, focus on 120 Lok Sabha seats where the BJP has little or no presence. That’s his next target.

It is really a big challenge for Amit Shah. The BJP chief plans to tour these 120 constituencies, mostly in the South and East, and start from scratch by building the booth-level infrastructure.

“Shah wants these 120 seats under the BJP ”. These constituencies are spread across Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal and states in the North-East.

BJP’s hopes of retaining New Delhi in 2019 got a huge boost on Saturday as a Modi tsunami, which is gaining currency as `tsunamo’, swept India’s most populous and politically heavyweight state of Uttar Pradesh.

Apart from a setback in Punjab, where the SAD-BJP combine lost comprehensively, BJP ended up neck and neck with Congress in Manipur and was in with a chance to retain power in Goa despite finishing behind Congress.BJP returned to office in Uttarakhand with a thumping majority.

Winning UP was necessary for Modi and BJP as they look ahead to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. With a contribution of 73 seats, the state played a big role in BJP’s 2014 victory.

The team of Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah will see the handsome victory as a vindication of the government’s policies, and look to press ahead with a mix of economic reform and welfarism in the run-up to the next LS elections. The strategy is sharply focused on carving a large right-of-Centre constituency by wooing the middle-class through growth and a focus on financial inclusion programmes for the poor.

The sweep in UP and Uttarakhand has given demonetisation a seal of popular approval and saw Shah asserting that “notebandi” had entrenched Modi in the hearts and minds of the poor.

What are the real challenges to BJP now?

In states where the Congress has not been power for a long time or has lost power recently, the BJP is getting challenged by strong regional players—TMC in West Bengal, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in Tamil Nadu, UDF and LDF in Kerala, BJD (Biju Janta Dal) in Orissa, Telangana Rashtra Samithi in Telangana.

States/UTs where BJP won less than 20% seats in 2014 :-

Andhra Pradesh (2/25)

Odissa (1/21)

Tamil Nadu (1/39)

Kerala (0/20)

Telengana (1/17)

West Bengal (2/42)

Punjab (2/13)

BJP reached its peak in these states in 2014. Now in 2019 the only thing that can happen is BJP might lose seats in these states. Because nothing is constant in politics.

The major set of data that should worry BJP is that of states where it got 4-20% seats in 2014. In these states of Andhra Pradesh, Odissa, Tamil Nadu, Telengana, Kerala and West Bengal.

BJP got just 8 seats out of 157 seats. And there is no indication in the last 2.5 years that BJP is gaining grounds in these states. After 2014 Lok Sabha elections the assembly elections took place in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Kerala last year in 2016 and BJP though increased its vote share but in terms of seats there was nothing to write home about. BJP won 0 seats in Tamil Nadu, 1 in Kerala and 6 seats in Bengal in assembly elections of 2016.

So after analysis of major Lok Sabha regions there are very less chances for any party to topple the victory of BJP. BJP will emerge as the single largest party but may not get clear majority (Only BJP).

So finally BJP will have to do some serious heavy lifting in the remainder of its tenure to win in 2019 by a majority. It is one of the biggest challenge for which Amit shah has to do serious surgical strike on this.

Anusha Shetty**