As BJP prepares for upcoming Assembly polls, its top target is KCR

Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao

 Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao (File/Photo)


The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is busy preparing for the upcoming Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh to be held later this year, as well as in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in 2023, besides other states.

New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is busy preparing for the upcoming Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh to be held later this year, as well as in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in 2023, besides other states.

While the BJP is working on a political strategy to help it win above 115 Assembly seats again in its stronghold Gujarat, on the other hand, it is aiming to break the predicted electoral result trends and form the government in Himachal Pradesh for the second time.

The Assembly elections to be held in 2023 are extremely crucial for the party ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

On the one hand, the saffron party is planning to form governments in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka once again, and at the same time it is working out a strategy to fulfil the idea of a 'Congress-mukt Bharat' (Congress-free India) by defeating the existing Congress governments in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

The BJP is also confident of delivering a severe blow to the KCR government of Telangana during the 2023 Assembly polls.

Gujarat, the native state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, has remained a stronghold of the BJP since 1995.

After Modi became the Chief Minister of Gujarat in 2001, the BJP never lost any Assembly elections in the state.

However, since Modi came to Delhi as the Prime Minister in 2014, the saffron party has not been able to win elections in the state by a huge margin.

During the five consecutive Gujarat Assembly elections of 1995, 1998, 2002, 2007 and 2012, the BJP has been forming the government in the state by securing between 115 to 127 seats of the total 182.

However, in the 2017 polls, BJP's seat tally dipped to 100, meaning it won only 99. The Congress had won 77 seats.

After suffering a setback in Gujarat, the BJP changed the Chief Minister as well as revamped the entire state government.

Now the biggest challenge before the saffron party is to form a government in Gujarat for the seventh consecutive time with a resounding majority.

In Himachal Pradesh, no government has won the people's mandate for ruling for a second term since 1990. It will be a major challenge for the BJP to break this trend and form the government once again this year.

During the 2017 Himachal Assembly polls, the BJP had contested on a total of 68 seats, of which it won 44 securing 48.79 per cent votes. At the same time, the Congress had won 21 seats while securing 41.68 per cent votes.

Himachal Pradesh is the native state of the BJP's National President J.P. Nadda. Therefore, he makes frequent visits to the hill state and tries to ensure that the electoral atmosphere is in favour of the BJP.

Traditionally in both Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, till now the main political contest has been between the BJP and the Congress but buoyed by the victory in the recent Punjab Assembly elections, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is preparing to contest in these two states with full vigour.

The poll results will prove whether the BJP or the Congress's electoral chances will face a severe blow with the entry of Arvind Kejriwal's AAP but at present, the BJP does not consider AAP to pose a major political challenge to it in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.

Meanwhile, the BJP does not want to repeat the same political blunders as in 2018 in both Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka which will go to the polls next year.

In Madhya Pradesh, the BJP, which has been winning consecutive Assembly elections since 2003, suffered a major setback as it was ousted from power by the Congress during the 2018 polls.

In 2018, the Congress dealt a political blow to the BJP by forming the government in the state with support of other local parties, winning 114 of the total 230 Assembly seats.

Although after the revolt by Congress-turned-BJP leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, the saffron party formed the government again in Madhya Pradesh in March 2020 vy overthrowing the Congress government from power but the BJP no longer wants to repeat the political mistake made during 2018 in 2023.

The party wants to form the government in the state with an absolute majority in the upcoming assembly elections to be held next year.

There is currently a BJP government in Karnataka too, but in 2018 the BJP could not form the government in the state.

In the 2018 Assembly elections, out of the total 223 seats in the state, BJP had won 104 seats but the then Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa could not prove a majority in the Assembly.

That year, the Congress, which won 78 seats in Karnataka, extended its support to the JD(S), which had only won 37 seats and H.D. Kumaraswamy was made the Chief Minister. But only 14 months later, the Kumaraswamy government collapsed and BJP's Yediyurappa again became the state Chief Minister.

Due to the rapidly changing political situation in the state, the BJP decided to change the existing Chief Minister and in July 2021, Yeddyurappa was replaced by Basavaraj Bommai.

In order to realise the 'Congress-mukt Bharat' slogan, the BJP is also working on a strategy to oust the Congress from power in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in 2023.

During the 2018 Rajasthan elections, out of a total of 200 seats, Congress had won 100 seats and BJP 73.

Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot formed the government in Rajasthan with the help of BSP and other local parties and has proved successful so far in saving his government from collapse despite Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot's attempts to revolt against the Gehlot government.

During the 2018 Assembly elections, on a total 90 seats in Chhattisgarh, Congress had won 68 and BJP 15. After securing a thumping victory in the state, Congress made Bhupesh Baghel the Chief Minister. While Gehlot is considered close to interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Baghel is considered close to Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

The Telangana Assembly election scheduled for 2023 will be a big litmus test for the BJP's dream of "Mission South India".

Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) formed the government during the 2018 Assembly elections by winning a record 88 seats of the total 119 and K. Chandrasekhar Rao, popularly known as KCRm became the Chief Minister.

In this election, Congress had won 19, AIMIM seven, TDP two and BJP only one seat, but in the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP, which won four out of 17 seats in the state, continues to strengthen its political base in Telangana.

The saffron party is feeling confident about the victory secured in local body polls and recently sent a clear political message to the ruling TRS government by holding its national executive meeting in Telangana which shows its intent to strengthen its base in the state in the coming years.

The BJP has made its intention clear this week by appointing skilled party strategist Sunil Bansal, who led the party to victory in recent Uttar Pradesh Assembly election, as the party's National General Secretary, by giving him the responsibility of state in-charge of West Bengal, Odisha as well as Telangana.

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