BJP will suffer if it cannot project local faces for state polls

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The DMK's going ahead with a tie-up with the Congress for the Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu will not just put the BJP in a spot of bother, but will also raise some uncomfortable questions for its president Amit Shah, who has been re-elected to the post recently.

[TN polls: With DMK going with Congress, BJP has a tough task in hand now]

Why no state face? A question which will haunt the BJP

A big question mark will be raised over the BJP's inability in projecting a local leadership during Shah's tenure as its president. It is not that earlier party presidents of the party were adept in accomplishing this key job, but the BJP's reach in national politics was also limited.

amit-shah

After the incredible sweep in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, expectations from the party led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi have shot up, so much so that Shah now faces the pressure of replicating that performance in each poll the BJP contests. Even a slightly lesser show will be deemed unsatisfactory.

After Maharashtra, Haryana & Jharkhand polls, the BJP has struggled

But having said that, the BJP hasn't really been able to discover new faces of local leaders following the Modi wave and that has seriously impaired it in the state polls. The show in Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand was good perhaps because the impact of the Modi wave was still strong but ever since, it has been a disappointing story, thanks to the lack of a back-up support from the bottom.

The saffron party went on to lose two prestigious battles in Delhi and Bihar and one of the biggest reason for the heavy defeats was its inability to project a local face with which the voters can identify themselves. Even Modi proved inadequate to influence the result in those states. In Bihar, he was clearly overused but could not impact the ultimate result.

20 states will go to polls between now and next LS poll

Starting in 2016, as many as 20 states will go to polls by the time the next Lok Sabha election is here and the BJP rules just five of those states and is in power in another three. Even of those five which it rules, things have not been the same in post-Modi Gujarat while post-Parrikar Goa could also have its share of challenges.

After Modi, Parrikar, Shivraj Chouhan, Raman Singh, Vasundhara Raje... who?

This precisely means that the party hasn't been able to find successors to some of its accomplished chief ministers who made up a strong reserve bench as against an ageing dual leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani. Shah has a huge responsibility in bridging the gap which is getting alarmingly wider now.

Hardly any leader in states going to polls immediately

Of the states that will go to the polls this year, the BJP has projected a local face only in Assam, the only state where it has a realistic change to put up a good show, besides changing the state chief in West Bengal. In the two southern poll-bound states in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the BJP remains a struggler depending on social or political alliances to survive the day. Whereas, the party needs to have a strong local leadership which can deliver as per the political demands of the respective states.

Shah's biggest test will be in UP next year as the BJP, despite possessing the skills of conducting politics of the Hindi heartland, lacks a robust local leadership. In the post-Kalyan Singh and Govindacharya days, the BJP is yet to find an answer to the challenge of finding a suitable leadership in that crucial state.

It was the Modi wave blowing nationally and the strategy of polarisation and counter-polarisation adopted locally which had helped the BJP sweep UP in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. But it will be a different ball-game in 2017 when the BJP will have to present an alternative to Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati before the voters.

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