The BJP on Sunday consolidated its dominance of the country’s heartland, snatching Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh from the Congress and retaining Madhya Pradesh, and setting the stage for a “Modi ki guarantee” drumbeat in the run-up to the general election next summer.
The results of the Assembly polls are being projected as a resounding triumph for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, although the Congress has won Telangana with the BJP failing to make its mark in yet another southern state after the drubbing in Karnataka in May.
Modi had turned the Assembly elections into a referendum on his leadership and sought to sway voters by offering “Modi ki guarantee” – a tip of the hat to welfare politics forced by the Congress victory in Karnataka.
“Modi ki guarantee yani guarantee ki puri hone ki guarantee (Modi’s guarantee is a guarantee to fulfil the guarantee),” had turned into the BJP’s chief slogan.
“There is Modiji and only Modiji in the hearts of the people,” Union home minister Amit Shah posted on X.
“Today’s election results have proved that the days of appeasement and caste politics are over.... New India votes on the politics of performance. I salute the people of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan for this immense support. Many congratulations to Prime Minister Shri @narendramodi ji on this grand victory of the BJP.”
A post from party chief J.P. Nadda said: “This mandate for the BJP is a seal of public confidence in the leadership of respected Prime Minister Shri @narendramodi ji.”
The BJP’s performance in Madhya Pradesh stands out given the scale of its sweep despite 20 years of virtually continuous rule barring a year’s interregnum after the last elections.
Beating the predictions of accumulated anti-incumbency and voter fatigue with one-party rule, the BJP had won or led in 164 of the total 230 seats at 8pm, with a vote share of 48.7 per cent, a nearly 7 per cent increase over last time.
“It’s a victory for Modiji’s leadership and chief minister Shivrajji’s (Shivraj Singh Chouhan) hard work and also that of the party workers,” the BJP minder for Madhya Pradesh, P. Muralidhar Rao, said.
He claimed that nearly 70 per cent of women voters had backed the BJP in the state --- a sharp jump from a figure just over 55 per cent in the last polls. This is being seen as an outcome of the monthly cash dole of Rs 1,250 that the Chouhan government is giving women.
The BJP is also savouring its victory in Chhattisgarh, which was widely believed to have turned into a Congress stronghold on the watch of OBC chief minister Bhupesh Baghel. The BJP has trounced the Congress in this tribal and OBC-dominated state, winning in 54 of the 90 seats, with a vote share of 46.28 per cent.
Here, too, BJP insiders claimed that women had swung the vote. “This time the women’s voting percentage (turnout) was 2 more than the men’s, and the majority of their votes seem to have gone to the BJP,” a local leader said.
Just days ahead of the polling, the BJP had offered a “Modi ki guarantee” that married women would be given a monthly cash dole of Rs 1,000 if it came to power.
“The credibility of Modiji’s guarantee is higher among the voters,” a BJP leader said.
In Rajasthan, the Congress put up a fight under chief minister Ashok Gehlot’s leadership but couldn’t stop the BJP wresting power, with 115 of the 199 seats.
The vote share, at 41.7 per cent, was just over 2 percentage points more than the Congress’s.
The Gehlot government’s welfare guarantee schemes seemed to have made the BJP’s ride difficult, compared with the two other heartland states.
Amid the rush to laud Modi and his “politics of performance”, party managers saw a “clear Hindu consolidation” in all the three states and took it as an encouraging sign in the run-up to the general election.
The BJP derives its strength mainly from the heartland states. The three it won on Sunday account for 65 Lok Sabha seats. The BJP had won 62 of them in 2019.
The party’s performance in Telengana, however, has left the BJP leadership worried that south India might pose a “big challenge” in 2024 amid a Congress resurgence in the region. The Congress has now won two southern states — Karnataka and Telangana — in seven months.
The BJP got just 8 of the 119 seats in the state. However, the party, which won just one seat in 2018, is looking at a near-doubling of its vote share — from less than 7 per cent in 2018 to almost 14 per cent — as a ray of hope.
The BJP had won four Lok Sabha seats from the state in 2019 and will face a challenge retaining them.
“My dear sisters and brothers of Telangana, Thank you for your support to the @BJP4India. Over the last few years, this support has only been increasing and this trend will continue in the times to come,” Modi posted on X.