Can Modi-Shah work their magic in the 2020 polls
New Delhi, Jan 02: The year 2020 will be crucial for the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah of BJP, the party in power at the Centre and some states across the country.
The BJP is on a losing streak since 2014, having lost five states, including the latest Jharkhand Assembly Election 2019.
Congress has gained some momentum in 2019, by winning Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhatisgarh, and Puducherry.
The victory in Jharkhand has come as a morale booster for opposition unity and for the grand old party seeking to become relevant again in Indian politics after suffering two successive defeats in general elections.
On the other hand, the BJP's graph in state polls has been on a steady decline since 2018 when it lost its bastions of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh besides Rajasthan, and its splendid victory in general elections has not translated into gains in states.
The ruling BJP now governs mere 35 per cent of the country's landmass in comparison to over 71 per cent during its peak in 2017 when it was in power in the entire Hindi-speaking heartland.
The string of losses in states despite the massive victory in the April-May Lok Sabha elections may force BJP's top brass to revisit its strategy for the assembly polls as it prepares for the upcoming battles in Delhi and Bihar.
Since in both these states it's not BJP CMs who are on test (BJP is a challenger in Delhi and a junior partner in Bihar), the prime minister and his team would spend less time campaigning.
Notably, the party has suffered losses in states at a time when it has been successful in fulfilling its longstanding ideological promises, including nullifying Article 370, criminalising the practice of triple talaq and enacting Citizenship Amendment Act.
The Supreme Court's verdict in favour of building a Ram Temple in Ayodhaya was also a big boost to the BJP.
However, nationwide protests-mostly led by the opposition against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) 2019 refuses to down and it is likely to shape the political narrative in 2020 elections.
India is set to witness two-key state battles, elections to the Upper House of Parliament and possibility of Jammu and Kashmir.
Delhi Elections 2020
All eyes would be on Delhi elections 2020 as it is likely to turn into a Modi vs Kejriwal duel like in the Lok Sabha polls where it was wiped out.
While the BJP will focus on expanding its existing 30 per cent vote share in Delhi to upstage Arvind Kejriwal, the AAP government is betting big on its track record.
The Kejriwal-led-party, which won 67 of the 70 seats in 2015, will fight this election in collaboration with election strategist Prashant Kishor's consultancy firm I-PAC.
It has launched its news slogan 'Acche beete paanch saal-Lage raho Kejriwal' (the last five years went well- keep going Kejriwal) and kick-started its campaign for the 2020 assembly polls.
The BJP is swayed by the success of the Lok Sabha election in May, will put all-out effort to form its government in Delhi after more than two decades.
The BJP is banking on the support of voters of unauthorised colonies, hoping they will back it due to property ownership rights given to the residents in these colonies by the BJP-led government at the Centre.
Other than citing the "failures" of the Kejriwal government, the BJP is depending on the image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to sail through the crucial elections, after winning only three seats five years ago.
Bihar Elections 2020
Bihar is also heading for polls this year. Though Amit Shah has said the election will be contested under Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's leadership, growing unease between the two allies is evident.
JD(U) national vice president Prashant Kishor has contended that his party, being the senior partner in the NDA in Bihar, should contest more seats than the BJP in the assembly election this year.
The JD(U) could push for a more favourable seat-sharing formula as the BJP put up an underperformance during the general elections.
In 2014, the BJP had contested with the LJP and Upendra Kushwaha's RLSP and the coalition had won 31 out of 40 seats in Bihar with the saffron party alone bagging 22.
The JD(U) had fought alone and got only two. The remaining seven were grabbed by the RJD-Congress-NCP combine. RLSP left the NDA last year and is now a part of the five-party Grand Alliance.
Rajya Sabha and Jammu and Kashmir polls
Elections for 73 Rajya Sabha seats will happen in four phases -- in February, June, July, and November that is going to be crucial for the BJP as it lacks numbers in the upper house.
Jammu and Kashmir is also a possibility if the Modi government decides to lift restrictions in the state. However, this happens only after the top politicians of the state, who have been detained since August 5, are released. The process is yet to begin.
The build-up to the Assembly elections in West Bengal, Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Puducherry will also begin in the later half of 2020.