The Bharatiya Janata Party’s electoral victory in Gujarat, led by chief minister Narendra Modi, was an expected one. The margin of victory, even if the party won two seats fewer than in the previous poll, was significant. Modi’s win in Gujarat may have been a fait accompli given his government’s focus on economic development and also due to the utter lack of cohesion among the opposition Congress, which did not have a strong plank to fight the elections on. Neither did it have any leader who could challenge the incumbent chief minister.
However, Himachal Pradesh was a different story. The Congress won 36 of the 68 Assembly seats, thus securing a simple majority and the right to form the government. BJP, the ruling party in the state, won 26 seats.
The elections to both these states point to what looks like a fragmented vote in 2014, when the next general elections are due. The message from the people is the same: if you deliver on your promises, we will deliver you the vote.
For instance, a multiplicity of scams, pathetic governance standards, sky-rocketing inflation, rising income inequality, falling human development indices and even political opportunism in the form of quotas and favours for select communities seem to have done the Congress no harm in HP where the elections were fought on local issues.
If the BJP believes it has any realistic chance of winning the 2014 election then it would have to do a few things carefully, and rather quickly, including pitch a potential leader to lead them in the polls and to be clear on economic policy issues and communicate that with great clarity.