Can the BJP now win elections in Delhi?

India votes in the middle of the second wave of pandemics: Narendra Modi suffers a defeat

The Indian Prime Minister's party absolutely wanted to conquer the state of West Bengal. She failed.

It took a political earthquake to push India's Covid-19 crisis off the front pages of Indian newspapers. Prime Minister Narendra Modi suffered one of his few major defeats on Sunday, and it is one that should give his party pause for thought. Modi's Hindu nationalist BJP wanted to gain a majority in West Bengal, one of India's most populous states, for the first time. Now it should not even occupy 80 of the 294 seats in the regional parliament.

The defeat is gossip because the BJP used all its political weight to win in West Bengal. The party is not nearly as popular in India as its over-figure, the head of government. Modi wanted to use this popularity, he was heavily involved in the election campaign. He and his Home Secretary Amit Shah toured the state holding events in front of thousands of supporters. The BJP had its own team at Kolkata Airport to coordinate all the planes and helicopters that brought party greats from Delhi to West Bengal. The party spoke of a BJP tsunami that would roll over the state. It turned out differently.

Huge election campaign events

Much had been said recently about the huge election events, they may have contributed to the rapid spread of the second corona wave. In India, the elections are organized by an electoral commission, which ignores warnings and has not banned major events, and not even protective measures have been observed. When the commission finally imposed restrictions on April 22nd and allowed a maximum of 500 people per event, the second Covid-19 wave was already rolling across India. The restriction only came after the head of government canceled his campaign rallies an hour earlier.

It is uncertain whether the mismanagement of the Corona crisis contributed to the BJP's electoral defeat: Many votes were cast at the beginning of the second wave when it was still barely noticeable.

Certainly the votes can be seen as a protest against the BJP. They elected the previous chief minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, for a third term. Their party TMC won the vast majority of the votes, according to preliminary results 210 of the 294 seats. The TMC is a populist left-wing party that has been repeatedly shaken by corruption scandals in recent years.

"In West Bengal, the BJP overestimated its own strength and some regional factors," says Rahul Verma from the Center of Policy Research in Delhi: "Modi's popularity could not make up for the fact that the party did not have a strong candidate of its own." According to Verma, the polarization of the state was also overestimated. Around 30 percent of the population in West Bengal was Muslim and they left their vote to the TMC in order to prevent the BJP - in return, the Hindus did not rally behind the BJP. “The BJP has also put the TMC's corruption scandal at the center. That didn't really catch on either, ”says Verma. The chief minister Banerjee skilfully presented herself as the matriarch of West Bengal during the election campaign.

Election results were announced in four other regions on Sunday, and there were no surprises. The BJP won in Assam, where it had satisfied its electorate base with charity programs. In South India, in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, the BJP is traditionally weak, with left-wing politicians shaping the regional elections there.

Congress party weakens

Modi's opponents shouldn't be too euphoric about election Sunday. In West Bengal and in the south, regional parties that are not present nationwide won. It is questionable whether they will stand united against Modi in the next national elections, there is no common leader and the only common denominator is the rejection of the BJP.

The role of the national opposition party would actually lie with the Congress Party, the foundress of India, who was also the epitome of the political establishment for a long time. But the party did not make it out of the crisis on Sunday either, it lost in Kerala and could not gain in Assam. Since Modi's first election victory in 2014, the congress party has been looking for the connection. It lacks a charismatic leader like the BJP has. Rahul Gandhi, great-grandson of the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, seems to be able to move very little at the top.