The results of recent state elections are likely to see new strategies by both the BJP and Congress

DEMOCRACY is a great leveller. However well trenched a political party might be, the voter can turn the tables on it. Legislative assembly elections in five states – Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram – could well prove this true. Exit polls of the recent elections have indicated a close fight between the BJP and the Congress in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh while suggesting that Rajasthan could be slipping out of BJP’s grasp. Even though not much has been reported with regard to Mizoram, Telangana witnessed an interesting fight between the incumbent Telangana Rashtra Samiti and the Congress-Telugu Desam Paty combine.

It must be borne in mind that exit polls have often been wide of the mark. Given that there are several variables to determine the outcome of an election, it is tough for pollsters to be on the dot. It is true that field surveys, scientific tabulation of results, selection of samples, scale of operation and the impartiality with which the surveys are interpreted could have influenced the outcome of the exit polls. Variance in final results vis-à-vis survey findings may be attributed to media houses interfering with the scientific exercise in keeping with their policy towards different political parties.

There is one message though – that the BJP might need to redraw its political strategy and operation of its famed booth-level electoral machinery. If the party loses Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the losses would be attributed to voter fatigue and anti-incumbency. What should worry the party is the possible loss of traction for its two top regional satraps – Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Raman Singh. It would need replacements for them. That apart, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have been the strongest support bases of the BJP and any upheaval in these states could upset the party’s electoral mathematics for the Lok Sabha polls.

As for the Congress party, these elections are all about testing Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s political acumen. If the party does well, he will win accolades and get the confidence to build an anti-BJP front. A loss would indicate a setback to his alliance building efforts. The Congress and TDP made significant moves in Telangana against the powerful TRS chief K. Chandrasekhar Rao. Roping in Kodandaram’s fledgling Telangana Jana Samiti and Left parties was an icing on the cake. These elections are crucial for Rao as a poor showing would mean a formidable dent in his political fortress and his plans to handover the baton to his son, KT Rama Rao. In Mizoram, the Congress will be tested for its resilience to take on an opposition formation egged on by the BJP that scarcely has a presence in the state. In all, the final outcome of elections in the five states has something or other for important players at the centre and the states.