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What does State Assembly Elections 2018 mean for BJP?

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The results of the recently-concluded Assembly Elections in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, are a massive blow for Prime Minister Narendra Modis BJP. It may be too early to extrapolate the results of these state elections and draw conclusions about the fortunes of the BJP and INC in the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections. The 2019 Lok Sabha elections will be fought over 29 different states. However, BJP’s defeat in all these three states indicates a couple of highlights for the 2019 Elections.

 The results indicate there is a lot of resentment on the ground against the party and popular sentiment is shifting against it. The share of agriculture in GDP and total workforce in agriculture is higher than the national average in all of these three states. Demonetization and the Implementation of GST were a massive shock to the informal economy including agriculture and small-scale businesses, from which the farmers and small-scale businessmen haven’t recovered. Further, there are serious concerns about the corrosive impact of the BJP-led government on various institutions such as RBI.

Another salient feature of these elections was the fact that, for the first-time, jobs were the central issue for the electorate; and rural distress was brought to the forefront during the campaign – something which had been missing in political narratives over the past four years.

Those having hopes of a BJP win next year being a foregone conclusion have had a reality check. In the process, Indian democracy is slowly balancing itself out. And its witnessing a change from traditional voting criteria to performance-based voting criteria.

The brutal majority with which the BJP came to power in 2014 and its subsequent willingness to wipe out Congress from all the states is unachievable now. The government failed to maintain a balance between the working class and small business class population. It seems like government made too much efforts to achieve goals which looked good on papers but failed to execute them properly and missed on the basics of Indian Democracy i.e. keeping the lower-middle class population happy.

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