The results of the by polls of thirty assembly constituencies and three Lok Sabha seats announced on November 2 make it clear that the BJP’s days of supremacy in Indian politics have been reversed. The Congress has staged a significant come back while the regionalparties, have more or less maintained their respective turf, excepting TRS in Telangana which lost a seat to the BJP. Trinamool Congress in West Bengal improved its share to a record level ofmore than 80 per cent in two out of four seats.
What do these results signal for the assembly elections to five states- Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Goa, Uttarakhand and Manipur in February/March 2022?The Congress is the main national party facing the BJP in all these five states excepting Uttar Pradesh where the
Samajwadi Party is the major contender. The Congress, despite undergoing major internal problems and defections, have shown that it hasthe potential to challenge the BJP nationally in a large number of states and it has a firm support base who are still sticking to the Grand Old

of candidates in elections, is seen as a big relief by the Party. Party despite all the latest fissures in the leadership.

The BJP has done well inAssam and its allies in other north east states. Also, BJP has done well in Madhya Pradesh while the Congress has done exceedingly well in Himachal stunning BJP whichis the ruling party in the state for two consecutive terms. For Congress, this is a big boost as Himachal is going for assembly elections in N ovember 2022 and this result in the state will certainly give a big encouragement to the grassroots level workers and the organisational leaders. Similarly, the Congress has maintained its hold in Rajasthan and Maharashtra.

As regards West Bengal, the results show that the Congress is a total washout in the state politics now.TMC under Mamata Banerjee not only wrested the two BJP assembly seats this time, apart from retaining the two, but what is significant is that in just six months after the last assembly elections, the BJP votes came down drastically from more than 30 per cent to just around 10 per cent in two seats. In
only one seat, BJP got 23.3 per cent as against 54 .8 per cent received by the TMC candidate. This trend indicates that the 2019 Lok Sabha elections results were unusual and if Mamata does not commit any big blunder, TMC will get back its old seat tally of 34 inthe next Lok Sabha poll in 2024. Even this tally may improve.

For the CPI(M), despite the Left Front being third in all the four seats after TMC and BJP, there is some consolation.CPI(M) contested two seats leaving other two to its allies Forward Bloc and the RSP. While in one seat, CPI(M) candidate got
19.57 per centand inthe other 10.39 per cent, the allies got only 2.79 and1.66 per cent votes respectively. The CPI(M) votes improved compared to the average of around 5 per cent in the last assembly elections. While BJP lost deposits in three out of four seats, CPI(M) lost deposit in only one as against two contested. What a fall for the Left Front which ruled the state for 34 years and the CPI(M) was the King that any averting of loss of deposits
For the central leadership of the CPI(M), the time has come to ensure that its assessment of the national situation and the tasks for reviving the party in West Bengal, percolate to every level of the Bengal leadership. The Bengal party leadership is still under the illusion of their 34 year domination of the state and thinks that Mamata is anusurper. They totally ignore how the welfare schemes of the Mamata government have taken away the traditional base of the Left and the Congress to the TMC fold. Mamata is considered as the icon of Bengali women power by the women in Bengal and if the CPI(M) leadership does not recognise this ground reality and draw out a programme accordingly, the Party has little future.

There is no issue of surrendering to Mamata or TMC. The Left has to be with the people taking up the faultlines of the Mamata Govt and fight for the correction of those. The Left has to be ready for a long haul and the state party leadership has to be overhauled to facilitate the coming of young leaders who will approach the new political reality with a fresh approach. Some of the old timers have started returning to the Left after sitting idle for long, this process has to be accentuated. A large number of lower and middle level leaders of the CPI(M) who

benefited during the Left Front rule, are busy in takingcare of their good life. The Left, especially the CPI(M) needs hard core fighters like the party had in 1960s to expand the base among the poor which is now the bastion of Trinamool.

The Congress is not in reckoning in West Bengal politics at all. All its candidates are at the lowest level competing with NOTA. BJP’s communal base is shrinkingas a good sectionof floatingvoters who shifted to BJP from the Hindus who were unhappy with both Left and TMC, have now come back, some to TMC and a smaller number .to Left. The Left has to build up its lost base on these returnees. The Congress and the civil society which is very active inBengal, have to be accommodated for fighting BJP at the national level and TMC for its wrong actions and corrupt practices of its leaders at the state level.

As regards the national political scene, the BJP’s central leadershipis worried and they have started reviews for taking corrective action, takinginto account the impact on the next assembly elections. The Congress has to do the same more vigorously for Madhya Pradesh defeats and failure in NorthEast. MP will go for assembly elections by the end of 2023. For assembly elections, in Goa, the Congress is facing a threat from Trinamool as the party is getting support from the civil society
and a very influential local media house. Trinamool may get some seats, but the Congress is still strong and if the verdict is fractured, there can be a coalition of Congress and Trinamool after elections.

In Punjab, the Congress has to unite all the factions and ensure a smooth victory.BJP is in bad shape. Akalis and the new partyofAmarinder may not pose a big challenge if the Congress can fight unitedly. AAPhas lost some of its lustre it acquired during the last elections. In Uttarakhand and Manipur, BJP has been working hard with its machinery for long. In UK, the Congress has a good chance, if the party fights unitedly. In Manipur, the Congress has to work with the anti- BJP small outfits of the state. The Congress base haseroded but there is good scope for revival since the ruling government is discredited as it is neck deep in corruption.

In Uttar Pradesh, the Congress workers are a bit buoyant as Priyanka has created a stir by announcing the reservation of40 per cent of the Congress candidates to women in the coming assembly elections. The move has been welcomed by the women in general but it is too early to assess its impact on the voting early next year. In UP, the Congress organisation is still in bad shape and the Samajwadi Party hasa solid machinery for fightingBJP though in terms of resources, the SP
is nowhere near BJP. The Congress should focus on its strongholds rather thancontesting in all 403 seatswhich will put strain on its weak organisation and resources. Since an alliance with SP is unlikely, all efforts should be made to get a minimum number of seats from its strongholds. Even at the fag end of campaigning an understanding can be made between the Congress and SP for some strategy of not dividing non- BJP votes. In sum, the election scenario for the 2022 assembly elections seems quite interesting as the BJP and the Congress will make all efforts to outdo each other on the voting day. For Congress, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka have a big stake in the coming battle. In BJP also, Amit Shah’s status has diminished after Bengalassembly poll debacle. Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah will do their most to navigate BJP to safe shores amidst the present tumult. For Modi, the hearing for Pegasus after submission of probe panel report, is due in January 2022, just in the course of campaigning for assembly polls. His credibility is in question. More new elements will come into playin Indian politics in the next three months before the assembly elections. The outcome will have a crucial role in determining the political discourse before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

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