States of the party

October 15, 2014 6:55 AM

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States of the party

As Maharashtra goes to polls, two questions seem to be crucial. First, what would be the extent of the Congress’s downfall in a state that it has almost always ruled over the past six decades? The other question, obviously, is how far the BJP’s gamble of severing links with the Shiv Sena will pay off. In the Lok Sabha elections this year, Maharashtra saw a drastic reversal of previous trends. The Congress was reduced to two seats in the state, and the party does not seem to have recovered. In contrast, the BJP, then in alliance with the Shiv Sena, won 23 of the 24 seats it contested and posted a very robust vote share of 27 per cent. The BJP is aware that the assembly polls following close on the heels of the Lok Sabha elections gives it an advantage. So it has gone into the electoral contest not just to wrest power but also to expand the party in the state. Whatever the outcome this Sunday, the BJP in Maharashtra will be a changed party, different from what it has been for the past 25 years.

Three factors marked the BJP’s campaign in Maharashtra, though it could be argued that these factors are increasingly becoming stable features of the party’s strategy everywhere. They are: a Narendra Modi-centric campaign, coupled with an aggressive media blitz, and careful, state-specific mobilisat...

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