The ruling party in India, led by Prime Minister Modi was a strong force at one time. It was one of the few parties in recent that had an absolute majority for the two terms. The charisma of national leaders like Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Adityanath and others seemed like a strong recipe for success. However, all is not well for BJP now.
There is a difference between state and national elections. The state elections in India are fought primarily on local issues. It becomes very tough for political parties to continue performing in a state. It is far easier to use the anti-incumbency in a state to dislodge an existing leader like Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal by promising the moon. The same strategy has been used by BJP from state to state, across the country. For the past few elections though, this strategy is failing badly.
Just before National Elections, there always have been some incidents that have given an opportunity for raising national spirit. Whether it is a terrorist attack, strike on terrorist outposts, etc. In every case, Modi government used something to give credit, even if it was not due. For example, the space program was not even approved by the BJP government. It was attributed to the vision of the predecessor. However, PM Modi was quick to pounce on it and be during launch, which really had nothing to do with his office.
These tactics are not working in their favour now. The poor handling of the COVID pandemic and other policies that have been giving misery to the public have started instilling doubt in the voters on the governance capabilities of the party. They did everything in West Bengal but they lost poorly to their former ally – Mamata Banerjee. Despite instilling a lot of pressure on DMK, they could not prevent their absolute majority in Tamil Nadu. The same story was in Kerala where BJP was more or less wiped out. In Assam, the performance of the local unit has been very good and perhaps they will be able to form the government despite them and their allies losing some seats.
BJP is losing its relevance in National Politics. Its leaders really need to get their act together in managing the COVID crisis. A lot has been said about donating and exporting over 7 crore doses of the vaccines that would have saved a lot of people across many main metros. With many of its leaders caught with their pants down smuggling or hoarding life-saving materials and keeping them away from the public, and with the national leaders looking away and not responding, the party is losing faith, day by day.
With their absolute power and a hard crackdown on dissent, people spoke with mumbled voices. The farmer agitation was the first movement where they effectively raised the voice without fear to the government. It also casts a serious doubt on the government to push one dubious legislation after the other instead of handling the immediate crisis. I
The writing is on the wall. It’s no way that they should do anything else but handle COVID. It can be a make or break moment for the party.