Assembly polls: Has BJP taken a bigger risk than Congress?

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The crucial state elections just a few months ahead of the Lok Sabha elections are important from various angles. Apart from Mizoram, the other four states are known for their bipolar politics (Delhi more a triangular contest now, thanks to the Aam Aadmi Party) and the results in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi will play an important role in the making (or unmaking) of Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi.

Banking too much on Modi and not on other state leaders

The BJP is perhaps committing a small but crucial blunder here. It is backing its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi as the ultimate hope who should get all the credit in case the party does exceedingly well in these polls. Local leaders in states like Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan are being ignored as important players in the entire pre-Lok Sabha election mission and perhaps they will be blamed if the party fails.

Will one-man show serve the BJP well?

There is a feeling that the party is doing everything it can to boost Modi and not the other way round and in the effort, other key leaders who have done equally good in their respective states like the Gujarat chief minister, are not being given their due credit. The BJP is perhaps surpassing even the Congress, which is known for its perfect brand of politics of loyalty, in this regard by displaying an excessive Modi-centric approach.

Is Modi being overused in assembly polls?

There is a risk in this approach. If the BJP loses in any of the four prestige battles in the Hindi heartland, the very Modi magic would face a challenge and the party perceiving a threat before the big polls. The party must remember that something similar had happened in 2004 when their confidence of forming the NDA II was shattered by an unpredictable force called Indian electorate. The massive presence of Modi in all the state polls is making the BJP opting for the Congress's style of politics with an imposition from the above and where all sorts of performance are ultimately linked to the main face.

BJP banking on Modi while Congress backing state leaders. Interesting, isn't it?

But the BJP could have done it differently. The party always had a problem with a wide gap that existed between its top and second-rung leaders. That's the reason why succession has always been a question in the post-Vajpayee and Advani days. But after dealing with a lot of trouble to get over the succession question through the anointment of Modi, the BJP, one feels, is going back to the old problem.

The party could have vowed for a collective leadership in this new phase. With Modi emerging as the new leader of the party, the party must not seal the fates of the second-rung yet useful leaders by confining their roles. For whether Modi becomes the prime minister or not, the BJP can't expect to succeed like a one-man outfit.

Congress has made a more calculated move after sensing the mood

The Congress, on the other hand, has shown a calculated risk in these elections. It hasn't dragged the Gandhis too much into these polls, unlike the BJP which chose to overuse the Modi factor. Just as the BJP has tried to equate the state Congress governments with the tainted UPA II government at the Centre and attacked them, the Congress has chosen to disassociate the local and central issues in these elections. It has allowed the local leaders a space and not over rely on the central leadership to do the job for it.

Congress has backed state leaders

The party earnestly expects that if leaders like Sheila Dikshit and Ashok Gehlot can pull off victories and make the score 2-2, then the Modi wave will be given a jolt for even wins in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh will bring Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Raman Singh to focus. For Modi, on the other hand, victories in Rajasthan and Delhi will be more favourable mandate for him.

We will come to know what's in store by December 8. However, one thing is certain. The BJP has played with the risk more than the Congress in these polls.

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