Opposition parties have not recovered from the shock defeat in the Lok Sabha polls.

 

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which got a landslide victory in the recent Lok Sabha elections, is not complacent and preparing for the coming Assembly elections in three states—Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana—with full steam, whereas the Opposition parties in these states are yet to recover from the shock at the defeat and are in complete disarray.

The Assembly elections are scheduled to be held around October-November this year in these states, where the BJP is already in power. Soon after the results of the Lok Sabha elections, BJP national president Amit Shah held a meeting of the leaders from the three states to chalk out the strategy for the Assembly elections. According to a senior BJP leader, while the party has a clear leader as well as the alliance very much in place in these states, the Congress and other Opposition parties are yet to work out the same and also the strategy, although the elections are only three-four months away.

The BJP has also swiftly appointed J.P. Nadda as its working president till the time a full-time, new president is appointed, in order to ensure that the organisational work does not suffer. Amit Shah became the Home Minister. As per the party’s rule, one person cannot hold two posts simultaneously.

In Maharashtra, the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance deal has already been sealed. The two major parties of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) will contest an equal number of seats after the smaller allies like the Republican Party of India (RPI) and Rashtriya Samaj Paksha are accommodated. However, which party will get the post of chief minister, in case the coalition wins, is yet to be worked out.

On the other hand, the Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) alliance is much behind as far as preparations for the elections are concerned. Workers from the two parties have started demanding that the leadership finalise the seat sharing deal at the earliest so that there is clarity; otherwise, it will be difficult for the two parties to take on the ruling BJP-Shiv Sena alliance.

What has added to the woes in the Opposition camp is that there is no clarity as to who will succeed Ashok Chavan, who resigned from the post of state Congress president. The NCP is in a Catch-22 situation as it does not know with whom to negotiate in Congress. The Congress and the NCP had contested the October 2014 Assembly elections separately after sharing power for 15 years in a row in Maharashtra. The Congress and NCP had contested 287 and 278 seats respectively of the total 288 Assembly segments. The Congress could win 42 seats, while the NCP 41. In the recent Lok Sabha polls, the Congress could get only one seat, while the NCP four.

In Jharkhand, where the BJP won 11 out of 13 Lok Sabha seats it contested (one seat went to its alliance partner All Jharkhand Students’ Union), it has set in motion the membership drive. Chief Minister Raghubar Das launched the drive this week from his home town Jamshedpur in order to strengthen the party’s network. At present, there are over 25 lakh members in the state. The state unit aims to increase this number to 50 lakh before the state Assembly elections.

The Opposition grand alliance in the state consisting of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), is in disarray. It was earlier decided that three parties would contest in alliance, headed by Congress, while the Assembly elections would be contested under the leadership of JMM and that its leader Hemant Soren would be the chief ministerial candidate.

However, with the Congress facing existential crisis following the resignation of Rahul Gandhi from the post of president and RJD witnessing the first split in Jharkhand, the entire game plan, prepared before the Lok Sabha elections, has gone awry. RJD’s state unit chief Gautam Sagar Rana, along with other party members, has formed RJD (Loktantrik) in Jharkhand. The Congress state unit is divided as one group is demanding replacing president Ajay Kumar.

Senior state BJP leader Ramesh Pushkar said: “We are fully ready to face the Assembly elections. There is an alliance (with AJSU) and the leader, Chief Minister Raghubar Das, in place. Our workers are in high spirit under the able leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. On the other hand, there is complete chaos in the Opposition camp. We are confident that the NDA would bounce back to power once again in the state.”

Similar is the case with Haryana where the BJP won all the 10 seats in the state in the Lok Sabha elections. The Congress’ state unit is grappling with infighting and factionalism. The Bhupender Singh Hooda camp has been demanding removal of state Congress president Ashok Tanwar.

 

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