The new ABC of Indian Politics

The past 2 days have seen a lot of excitement on Indian news channels. The results of 3 elections (one Municipal and 2 State Elections) were declared with much fanfare. The Aam Admi Part won the Election held for the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), the BJP romped home in its stronghold of Gujarat and the Congress eked out a rare win in Himachal Pradesh.

While the BJPs national dominance is yet to be truly tested, I believe these elections are showing us how the future of Indian Politics is shaping up.

The AAM Admi Party, long accused as being the B Team of both the INC and BJP (both parties have accused each other of covertly supporting the AAP at various times) is slowly building up a National Base. While I think it’s naive to define it as the BJP's B Team, it is however seen to be getting stronger at the expense of the INC. It seems to have eaten into the INCs vote share in Gujarat, months after toppling it (and giving the BJP a black eye as well) in Punjab. Voters not happy with the BJP and not really inclined to vote Congress (which they see as dead weight) seem to be flocking in relatively large numbers to the AAP. While currently it’s not really enough t0 trouble the BJP (which really had no chance in Punjab and was supremely dominant in Gujarat), what seems to be happening is that in the absence of a strong regional party like the ADMKs, DMKs, TMC, RJD etc. the AAP is slowly being seen as the natural successor to the Congress.

I don’t think states like Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Bihar etc. which have strong regional parties or a decent Congress base will be more welcoming to the AAP. Furthermore, the AAP has not really captured a large number of castes (barring arguably Punjabi Jatts and the broader Delhi population). The states mentioned above have these formations in place with the old regional parties. However, it is yet to be seen if AAP can still corner some of the urban votes in these states leading to a reasonable chunk of seats in these states.

The BJP more or less seems to be the ascendant power in Indian Politics, which is remarkable considering it's been in power at the Centre for 8+ years and for more than 20 years in a state like Gujarat. Furthermore, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra can also be safely counted as BJP Strongholds (at least at the National Level even if the state units are not as strong). Thus, for the other opposition parties, to beat the BJP Bogeyman, it would take significant coordination and planning. The main worry for the BJP after 2024 seems to be on the question of succession once PM Narendra Modi steps down (I would venture out and say that this would be either due to old age or any supposed reluctance to continue). For as long as Namo is PM, it doesn’t look like any opposition would be able to stop him at the Centre (I’m willing to wager on this today as well).

Now, coming to the C, the Congress Party (INC). Rapidly losing their relevance electorally doesn’t seem to have dented their ability to command the mainstream media narrative nor has it led to other Opposition Parties to stop seeking their help in various elections. It is not that easy to destroy the Old Elite it would seem, and the Party still commands some respect at a National Level due to its ability to garner votes across castes and states. However, it is still a far cry from their political heyday when the vast majority of states as well as the Centre would be at their command. Its old clout is what keeps it alive as a platform /leader for Opposition unity rather than being relegated to the states of Kerala, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

So as it stands, the Central Elections in 2024 and beyond will see a three pronged battle, the Old Guard led by the Congress (along with other Regional Parties), the BJP as the Incumbent and the AAP trying to be the underdog. While the AAP under Arvind Kejriwal is smart enough to ally with the Congress and other regional parties, it would be unwilling to do so since this would lend more ammunition to the BJP to target them as greedy and corrupt. Hence broadly speaking, the ABCs are in place for 2024 and beyond.