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Assembly Elections 2018: Exit polls indicate Congress revival

If the exit poll results of five assembly elections hold, they indicate a Congress revival in the Hindi belt ahead of the crucial 2019 general elections.

Now, this revival can work in two ways – can energise the Congress and it can become more aggressive when it takes on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah combine after having beaten it in Hindi heartland, if the exit polls hold.

The poll of polls has placed the Congress slightly ahead in Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh and a sure-fire winner in Rajasthan.

If indeed Congress wins, then there is a danger that a more stronger party could make the other regional players more nervous and this could come in the way of forming the Mahagatbhandan (grand alliance). The Congress could also become more demanding of the regional parties and put them off.

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If the opposition does not come together, it is no rocket science and you don’t need to be a pollster to tell you it would have lost the 2019 general elections even before they begin.

So the Congress victory in assembly elections that makes the stronger can also make it less than attractive to the regional forces.

There is also a danger that the Congress could be tempted to make a pitch for Rahul for PM, thereby making the 2019 a Modi versus Rahul battle. In a presidential form of election that the BJP wants to make the 2019 into, the Congress has absolutely no chance.

And another way in which the results of the elections to five assemblies – Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Rajasthan, Telangana and Mizoram – if the BJP does not perform as well as it hoped then the narrative could well change and the party could scale up its temple agenda. Although its attempt to parade Yogi Adityanath across the poll-bound states and his highly emotional pitches on Hindutva did not pay much dividend, as the exit poll results indicate.

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Agrarian crisis and the apparent indifference of BJP governments at the centre as also state governments to the plight of the farmers cost the party dear.

Also, for the BJP a worry would be that its pinch hitter Modi could not do the trick this time around as people were wanting to see results rather than hear him criticise the Congress for everything that was going wrong.

KV Lakshmana is a senior journalist who spent the last eight years in Chennai, covering Tamil Nadu, he writes about South India and all that it has to offer. He tweets at @kvlakshman

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