While the dust is yet to settle on Telangana Civic Polls, the writing on the wall is for all to see. The massive efforts put in by the Bhartiya Janata Party in galvanising its vote base with the dazzle of senior leaders, has paid rich dividends. Even if the BJP manages to become the third largest party in the civic polls, the fact that its seat tally is less than 10% (3 - 4 seat) of the AIMIM, it's clear that BJP will emerge as the major opposition party in Telangana Assembly polls in due course. It was with this express purpose, the BJP had unleashed its best poll managers to manage the voter turn out.
Not surprising though, the Congress Party is hardly making its presence felt in these polls. It wasn't long ago that INC was the prime mover in Telangana region. But after the formation of the new state under UPA regime, the Congress not only lost its massive voter base, it has today been reduced to its poor shadow. It was this region of erstwhile Andhra, which was once considered to be a firm Congress playground. A region, which proved to Indira Gandhi's saviour even when she faced complete rout in 1977. But that legacy has long been lost to Chandra Shekhar Rao. Even in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Congress had emerged as the second largest party in Telangana, but today the rout narrates a different tale.
Spending time on Congress' pathetic performance would be a waste of time. But warming up to the BJP's not so stellar, yet appreciable voter preference is the story that has multidimensional implications.
Of the 5 southern states, Karnataka has been BJP's playground for over 15 years. But Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have been cold to the party. Desperate attempts by the RSS and its affiliates to make inroads in Kerala are yet to bear fruits. Despite the polarised polity, Kerala presents a challenge of sorts for the BJP. With 20 Lok Sabha seats, Kerala is like a Sphinx which barely reveals itself to the Hindu agenda of the BJP.
While the same can't be said about Tamil Nadu, this Davidian polity-led state has been a waterloo for BJP for decades. Without a larger-than-life leader in place, the BJP found no roots in TN. Had it not been the golden opportunity provided by providence, post Jayalalitha's untimely death, the BJP would have been at best a fringe party. Buoyed by the prospect of Rajnikanth, forming his own political outfit, who showers praises on Modi like an astute fan, BJP today, eyes a foothold in the state.
In this chess board of 5 southern states, there are only 2 states, which can become fertile ground for the BJP - Telangana & Andhra Pradesh. In both these states, BJP is well poised to replace the defanged Congress, which hardly cares about its state units. Taking the almost vacant Congress slot, provides BJP with a good shot at securing seats in the Lok Sabha Elections. Successive elections have now proved that Indian voters distinguish decisively between Assembly elections and National polls. It is here that the BJP finds its winning formula. Even though, the assembly elections are won by respective regional outfits run by Chandra Shekar Rao & Jagan Reddy, it's the Lok Sabha seats in these two states that would firmly secure the government at Centre.
Inch by inch, the BJP juggernaut looks at securing its National government with the help of additional territories. It is in this context, the success in Telangana civic polls will have a bearing on West Bengal Assembly elections as well. It's a known fact that the BJP is making pitched efforts at securing the state in its fold. After all, it's not just the lure of forming a BJP government in West Bengal, but also claiming a lion's share from its 48 seats in the Lok Sabha.
Up till 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the state government headed by Mamata Banerjee was blind towards the massive inroads that the BJP was making within the Hindu population. Pandering to the minority vote, which approximately makes up for 30% of the populace, Mamata was listlessly secure in her Ivory tower.
But the 18-seat victory with 41% vote share, shook her out of slumber. But here again, the might of BJP in terms of financial resources, array of leaders who can spend months at a stretch in the state, the outreach of RSS pracharaks and the appeal of the Prime Minister - all combined is not an easy onslaught to handle. Despite all-out efforts at securing and galvanising her support base, Mamata still appears to out of her depths.
Given these chess board moves of the BJP planners, it's safe to say, that the last hand is securing another term for the national government is yet to dealt. And the march to the unchartered territory has just begun.
(Writer of the article, Ajay Kumar, is Consulting Editor, India TV)
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The opinions do not reflect the views of India TV)