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The defeat at the Hindi heartland, road ahead to 2019: De-coding the polls with Dr. Shastri


New Delhi, Dec 13: The verdict is out and the Congress saw a resurgence by snatching the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh from the BJP. There are several reasons that have been given for this big BJP defeat in these three states.

Leading political scientist, Dr. Sandeep Shastri tells OneIndia that the party has clearly lost more in the rural areas, while the vote share of the Congress has significantly gone up in these belts.

The defeat at the Hindi heartland, road ahead to 2019: De-coding the polls with Dr. Shastri

Dr. Shastri says that in the states of MP and Chhattisgarh, the chief ministers were reasonably popular. What did the party in, in these two states was the strong sentiment against the local MLAs.

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Many of them have been MLAs for more than two terms and the voters did not have a positive image about them. The BJP was unable to change too many sitting MLAs as a result if which there were a huge number of BJP rebels in MP.

There is talk now that in MP, in 10 to 11 constituencies had the BJP got more than 4,200 votes, the party would have had a majority.

The same can be said about the Congress too and in certain constituencies had 4,000 voted, the party could have had a bigger number. In Madhya Pradesh, half the seats were won by a less than a 5,000 margin.

If one were to analyse MP, then it would be safe to say that the BJP managed to get so many seats only because of Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

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In Rajasthan, the case was about the Chief Minister. In recent times there has not been a chief minister who has been so unpopular and this swung the verdict in favour of the Congress, Dr. Shastri adds.

The road ahead in 2019:

Dr. Shastri says that the BJP holds 62 out of the 65 parliamentary seats in the three states. To replicate this in 2019 would be virtually impossible, he adds.

Ahead of 2019, energising the anti-BJP coalition would be one key strategy. Secondly, I am also convinced that the voter looks differently between the two elections. Given that both parties will re-strategise to present their case in the national election, it would be right to say that the semi-final would dictate the final is not right.

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Even in sport, the semi-final does not indicate how a final is played. This is also true in the case of the elections. At the end of it the winner would be the one who manages to strategise better.

Southern sojourn:

In Telangana, Dr. Shastri says it was a fight for the second place. The TRS was the winner since day one.

Last time, the BJP was in alliance with the TDP and this time it fought alone. I think Telangana is different from Karnataka in many ways. In Telangana, the BJP is a distant third to both the TRS and Congress.

Karnataka is different and there is a Congress-JD(S) coalition. In a direct fight, if you go by the numbers, the alliance has an advantage. Election is not only about arithmetic, but also about chemistry. At the ground it needs to be seen, how the alliance would work.

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If the BJP is united and the national and state units work together, then the party has a chance in Karnataka, Dr. Shastri says.

Post 2014, data from Karnataka showed that 6 out 10 said that they voted for the BJP because of Narendra Modi. It is to be seen whether this would be a factor again in 2019, Dr Shastri says.

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