The BJP may not be as popular as it was in 2017 but a divided opposition cannot defeat the BJP in assembly polls.
Next year in 2022 five states will go to the polls and a debate is on about how BJP will perform considering the heavy anti-incumbency factor. The states of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa will go to polls. Leaving out Punjab where Congress is in power, the BJP will try to retain its government.
The BJP must be ruing its mishandling of the COVID-19 second wave which will surely haunt it and have a bearing on its electoral prospects. The BJP already has its hands full of problems which include the Anti Farm Laws agitation, and the Lakhimpur Kheri incident which is going to eat into its support base.
The hastily enacted Farm Laws without the building a consensus has become a sore thorn in the BJP side. If withdrawing now will amount to accepting defeat and will affect the image of Narendra Modi as a strong leader. Sticking on to the farm laws means BJP losing many allies. Already it has lost its major ally, Akali Dal which has stood with it steadfastly for the last 25 years of NDA’s existence. Modi and Amit Shah’s autocratic rule has also made one of the ideologically similar parties like Shiv Sena one of its most bitter enemies.
However adding up all the above factors, it is still not enough to defeat the BJP in the forthcoming assembly polls. A fractured and disunited opposition cannot offer a credible alternative to BJP. The BJP may not be as popular as it was in 2017 but a divided opposition cannot defeat the BJP.
However, the opposition parties like the Aam Admi Party and Trinamool Congress can emerge as a formidable force in the 2022 assembly polls. However, the strengthening of Trinamool and Aam Admi Party does not mean that BJP vote share will go down. The biggest loser will be Congress. Hence the opposition will have to unite to defeat the BJP. If they remain independent, the vote will be split and BJP in spite of a falling vote share will still retain its hold on power.
The Congress has moved in Priyanka Gandhi into the Uttar Pradesh political scene. She is making the right noises and capitalizing on the mass anger against BJP due to the Lakhimpur Kheri incident. She has also played the 40% seats for women card cleverly and might have an impact on poll prospects. However, it is a step that could have been taken long ago. Congress has a vote share of just 6% and it is difficult to come back to power with just bluster and rhetoric. Congress cannot hope to come back to power on its own.
Similar situation will prevail if SP and BSP fight the elections on their own. Again the votes will be split and the BJP will still have the upper hand. These two parties will also split the minority votes and leave the field wide open for BJP. If these two parties can strike an alliance, it will be a formidable force. If congress chips in as well, the BJP will be in serious trouble.
Finally, it needs to be seen if the opposition can unite and oppose the BJP together. It will give people a choice and remove the dilemma of whom to support- evil or the lesser evil.