BJP banks on Bengal

Ground reports from three rounds of polling indicate that the party could lose a chunk of the seats it had won in 2014

By J.P. Yadav in New Delhi
  • Published 26.04.19, 8:11 AM
  • Updated 26.04.19, 8:11 AM
  • 2 mins read
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“The trend of the election so far has shown that the central narrative is Narendra Modi returning for another term as Prime Minister. Despite this we may lose some seats because of local factors like Opposition alliances and anti-incumbency against the sitting MPs,” a BJP leader said. (PTI)

The BJP is banking heavily on a substantial haul from the eastern states, particularly Bengal and Odisha, to secure a majority on its own.

Ground reports from three rounds of polling indicate that the party could lose a chunk of the seats it had won in 2014 and that there was a likelihood of the trend continuing in the remaining four phases.

Of the 303 seats where voting has taken place, the BJP had won 121 in 2014. Party insiders indicated that internal feedback had shown that the BJP could lose around a dozen of these 121 seats, mostly in Uttar Pradesh.

“The trend of the election so far has shown that the central narrative is Narendra Modi returning for another term as Prime Minister. Despite this we may lose some seats because of local factors like Opposition alliances and anti-incumbency against the sitting MPs,” a BJP leader said.

Internally, the BJP fears similar setbacks in the rest of the phases in states the party had swept in 2014 and so the heavy dependence on the eastern region, regarded as a new fertile ground for the party.

“We could lose around 50 seats we had won in 2014 in states like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Bihar and Jharkhand. However, we are confident of springing a surprise in Bengal, Odisha and also in the Northeast to an extent to offset the losses,” one of the BJP leaders monitoring the party’s election war room in Delhi said.

“We are banking heavily on Bengal and Odisha. If we falter in these states, our tally will come down substantially,” another BJP leader said. “It would be very difficult for us to come close to the majority mark if the showing is not good in Bengal and Odisha,” the leader added.

Despite remaining confident, claiming a “silent surge” for Modi in Bengal and Odisha, party managers are keeping their fingers crossed, fearing that the BJP may not be able to tip the balance in many seats despite a spurt in voting percentage. “Our feedback shows there is a high chance of us winning between 10-15 seats in Bengal and anything between 5-10 seats in Odisha,” a BJP leader said.

The party is also banking on picking up fresh seats in the Northeast although BJP managers are not too optimistic, unable to figure out how the Citizenship Bill would impact the ground situation, particularly in Assam.

The most serious losses are being feared in Uttar Pradesh, owing to the formidable BSP-SP-RLD alliance. The BJP insiders said that of the 26 seats in western Uttar Pradesh where polling has taken place, the party could lose around 10. In 2014, the BJP had won all 26 seats.

In Gujarat, where all 26 seats have voted and there was an increase in the poll percentage over 2014 figures, the BJP hopes it may not lose as many seats as it had feared.

Referring to feedback from the Gujarat unit, leaders in New Delhi said the BJP could lose only a couple of seats. The party had won all the seats in 2014.

“Initial assessments had shown we could lose some half a dozen seats. But now we are sure of winning most seats barring a couple where the Congress is very strong,” a BJP leader said.

The BJP has received reports of losses in Maharashtra owing to acute agrarian distress and the Congress-NCP alliance.