Indian PM Modi's BJP faces a big blow in state elections

Indian PM Modi's BJP faces a big blow in state elections

The negligible presence of Muslims and the absence of any single dominant political caste are, inter alia, factors responsible for the Bharatiya Janata Party’s defeat in state elections in India’s Himachal Pradesh.

This is a state where the Congress got the better off the saffron party without putting in any extraordinary effort.

As the BJP has been voted out of power in a state with over 95.17% Hindu population, it means that the electorate voted on the basis of the government’s performance and not on emotive issues. The “double-engine government” has been derailed here.

Counting of votes was still underway but it's clear now that the BJP has scripted history in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state of Gujarat as it won a record seventh term.

The party is on course to win the biggest majority by any party ever in Gujarat - which is a big boost for the BJP ahead of the 2024 general elections. It is leading in 157 seats in the 182-member assembly. It is likely set to surpass its best performance of winning 127 seats in 2002.

But the BJP's electoral fortunes haven suffered a setback in Himachal Pradesh where it has lost to the Congress, which is on track to win at least 39 out of 68 seats.

The BJP was hoping to retain Himachal which has never voted a party back to power since the 1980s. But the state appears to be sticking with the trend.

Himachal has only 2.18% Muslims and 1.16% Sikhs. Thus there was no scope for whipping up communal passions. Even Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, who addressed several public meetings, was not at his rhetorical best. Issues like the Uniform Civil Code could not work in this Himalayan state.

Himachal is a unique state – and Uttarakhand is the other one – where the upper castes dominate politics. About one-third of the population is said to be of Thakurs (Rajputs) and 18% Brahmins. The state has about 25.2% Scheduled Caste and 5.7% Scheduled Tribe voters. The Other Backward Classes form 13.5% of the electorate.