The saffron party needs to change strategy for the upcoming Assembly elections.


NEW DELHI: The setback in the Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh is worrying the BJP, as like the hill state, the saffron party will have a direct contest with Congress in most of the states that are going to polls next year.
The states where a bipolar fight between the BJP and the Congress is on the cards include MP, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland. Only Karnataka and Telangana will witness multipolar contests.
What is worrying the BJP is that the Congress could pose a serious challenge if its units remain united at the time of elections in these states. Moreover, if the schemes of the Congress-ruled states could make any positive impact among voters, then the contest will be much tougher for the BJP. The saffron party is not that worried about North-East states. It is more concerned about MP, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan.
The BJP is preparing to put up a strong fight in Telangana where Congress is not apparently in a position to do anything substantial.
The BJP will not be bothered even if Chandrasekhar Rao’s party TRS registers victory in this southern state.
The Hindi belt states like MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh are quite important, as BJP had suffered defeat in these states in 2018. However, it managed to form a government after some Congress MLAs left the party in Madhya Pradesh. There was an attempt to topple the government in Rajasthan too, but the operation could not succeed.
The Congress rule in Chhattisgarh continues to be unchallenged because of the heavy majority there.
Sources said that the BJP is planning to implement the Gujarat and Uttarakhand formula in Karnataka, MP and Rajasthan. The formula is about projecting a new leadership of the party in these states. The BJP leadership wanted to change the leadership in Himachal Pradesh as well, but the decision was reversed at the last moment.
Change of leadership in MP, Karnataka and Rajasthan will not be easy for BJP. There is no strong face who could replace Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Madhya Pradesh. There of course are so many contenders for the CM post in Bhopal, but the change of guard might be counter-productive. At the same time, Congress led by Kamal Nath seems to be getting stronger in MP. Similarly, it will be a tough task to replace CM Basavaraj Bommai in Karnataka, given the caste equations there.
Moreover, factionalism is also rampant in this southern state.
However, the party leadership is exploring the possibility of a change of guard in Karnataka. BJP president in Rajasthan Satish Puniya is already working hard in terms of popularising the party programmes.
But former CM Vasundhara Raje’s camp is not giving support to him. Raje supporters want her to be projected as the CM face. However, the BJP high command is unwilling to do so. The Congress is in a strong position due to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s decision like OPS and due also to BJP’s infighting. The BJP is facing a similar problem in Chhattisgarh as well. The saffron party has yet to zero in on a face in the tribal state.
In fact, the BJP wants to fight Assembly polls on PM Narendra Modi’s charisma and popularity. But the Himachal experience is worrisome for the party, as any defeat in the states where polls will be held just a few months ahead of Lok Sabha election of 2024 will give the opposition an opportunity to target PM Modi. With all this in view, the upcoming polls are quite challenging for the BJP.