2019-LS elections in sight, Modi meets BJP-CMs to take stock
PM Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah have begun planning in earnest for the upcoming assembly polls and the big gun, 2019 Lok Sabha elections. BJP's power duo will begin the process by meeting the CMs of saffron-ruled states to discuss their progress in implementing welfare measures and central government schemes. So, what are the main challenges they face? Here's more about it.
What is expected to be discussed?
The performance of programmes such as crop insurance schemes, digitization and building affordable housing will be discussed. Apart from this, Modi's pet topic of holding simultaneous Assembly and LS elections will be discussed with the aim to build a consensus on the issue. Modi has consistently stressed that multiple elections and imposition of the Model Code of conduct impede governance and drain the exchequer.
What is the main criticism that Modi's central government?
BJP's last-mile dash of Modicare, MSP sops to farmers will give the Modi-Shah duo enough ammunition to fire salvos against Congress's former scam-tainted administration. Despite this, Modi's government is on a dicey-pitch regarding mounting unemployment, falling farmers' income and increased middle-class taxes in the 2018 Budget. Further, the distress against GST and demonetization may not have faded completely, especially among the business class.
So, will the cow-belt "moo" for the BJP?
BJP's performance in the cow-belt is its main strength. In UP, it won 71/80 seats in LS polls'14. Now, CM Yogi Adityanath's performance and probable BSP, SP and Congress alliance might become deciding factors. In Bihar, RJD-chief Lalu Yadav's imprisonment will work for BJP-JD(U) combine. However, in Haryana, CM Manohar Khattar's administrative incapability was highlighted during the Jat violence and Gurmeet Ram Rahim's arrest.
MP, Chhattisgarh: BJP faces acute anti-incumbency, but an unprepared Opposition
Chhattisgarh-CM Raman Singh has successfully contained Maoists, wooed STs and given blockbuster welfare schemes. But, after 14yrs as CM, he faces anti-incumbency and his government, corruption allegations. MP-CM Shivraj Chouhan is also dealing with anti-incumbency, farm distress and the Vyapam controversy. Advantageously, Chattisgarh's Congress leadership is defunct. In MP, despite unity claims, Congress's Jyotiraditya Scindia, Kamal Nath and Digvijay Singh vie for CM-ship.
Gujarat, Rajasthan: Polls and bypolls suggest BJP might lose ground
Tough Gujarat polls and Rajasthan bypoll drubbing indicate that BJP might lose ground there. In elections'14, it made a clean sweep. Gujarat CM Vijay Rupani faces farmer, Dalit and Patidar unrest and a leadership challenge from deputy-CM Nitin Patel. As Rajasthan BJP's only mass leader, CM Vasundhara Raje is their best bet. But, she faces strong anti-incumbency and troubled relationship with top BJP leaders.
Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Himachal: CMs deal with factionalism and ambitious leaders
Then, in Uttarakhand and Himachal, apart from improving the finances, CM Trivendra Rawat and CM Jairam Thakur face the tall task of keeping BJP's veterans/former CMs happy. Likewise, in Jharkhand, CM Raghubar Das is coping with the anger of tribal leaders. Das has brought investment and launched pro-poor and pro-tribal welfare schemes; but, if JMM, Congress and RJD combine, it could jeopardize BJP's position.
What are the challenges in North-East and West?
Separately, in North-East, CMs' main challenges are employment generation and improving fiscal position. In Maharashtra, though CM Devendra Fadnavis steers clear of controversies, BJP's main challenger is its one-time bosom buddy Shiv Sena. Congress-NCP combine might also crank up the fight. Also, Goa CM Manohar Parrikar's health-scares might continue to rock the already-wobbly alliance stitched with Maharashtravadi Gomantak Paksha (MGP), Goa Forward, two independents.
Finally, what could be BJP's narrative?
There is no ambiguity about PM Modi being BJP's trump-card. However, they might need something extra this time. So, the BJP is keen on a "pro-poor" positioning. In the meeting, they will probably discuss ways to give maximum benefits to the poor, farmers, Dalits, tribals and youth through central/state government schemes. BJP will hope to repeat its 2014 polls performance of 282/545 seats.