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High Stakes

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The results of the just concluded assembly elections and bypolls, to be declared on 8 December, will come as a reality check for the political establishment, particularly the BJP. The saffron party is pitted against its arch-rivals and needs to hold on to its bastions as well as make inroads in to others’ territory. Any kind of dent that the opposition will make would impact on the ability of Prime Minister Modi to follow through on his strategic agenda, both, at home and internationally. He is at the peak of his powers as he helms the G20, while India leads important international organisations such as the UNSC. This is one of the reasons why he and his senior colleagues have been campaigning so vigorously, even if it is for the municipal elections in Delhi.

Should the opposition, particularly the Congress, make a breakthrough in Himachal Pradesh or Gujarat, it will considerably raise their hopes for the coming 2024 General Elections. Should AAP measure up to its claims in Gujarat or snatch victory in the MCD elections, it will become a serious contender for leadership of the anti-Modi combine.

In UP, the BJP has gone all out to topple the Samajwadi Party in its strongholds. Here, too, whichever side wins will get the upper hand. With the UP challenge primarily being between caste and Hindutva politics, the pattern of things to come will become clearer.

Of all these parties, AAP has the least to lose, as it is already punching above its weight. However, as in the case of the TMC, its leaders are facing serious corruption charges and will have to get off the ideological high horse that they have ridden to victory thus far. Whoever wishes to emerge as the principal challenger for the future contests will have to play a clean game.

Going by the strategy adopted by Rahul Gandhi, the Congress is hoping to ‘transcend’ this ‘material’ conflict and win over the minds and hearts of the people through the symbolism of its ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’. Victory in Gujarat and Himachal would be welcome, but the purpose is to remain ‘unattached to the results of their actions’. Duty may require effort in the field of battle, but the heart leads elsewhere. This attitude will help greatly should Gujarat and, particularly, Himachal give it the thumbs down. Yogic detachment will help a lot in that case and the party will live to fight another day.