By announcing Sarbananda Sonowal as its chief ministerial candidate for Assam Polls, BJP seems to have returned to basics in state politics. Ever since the BJP won Centre riding on ‘Modi Wave’ all the following state elections were also fought on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s name only.
PM Modi spearheaded the election campaign in Haryana, Maharashtra, Jammu & Kashmir and Jharkhand where the party did unexpectedly well. But after shocking defeat in Delhi elections(an exception with CM face-Kiran Bedi), followed by another one Bihar, now it seems that party will change its track for five state Assembly elections in Assam, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Punducherry and Kerala this year.
BJP rivals already have strong local candidates in these poll-bound states. In West Bengal the saffron party faces tough competition with Mamta Banerjee, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi in Assam and N Rangaswamy in Puducherry. However, Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi's successor MK Stalin will try not to give any void to BJP in state politics.
In Assam, where BJP has its hopes very high, Sonowal may just be the right choice at right time. BJP surprisingly won 7 seats out of 14 in 2014 general elections with a 36 per cent vote share. Sonowal is a familiar face in local politics who has been a popular leader in AJUSU and Assam Gana Parishad.
Congress strongman in the state Tarun Gogoi has always remarked BJP of being an outsider. But Sonowal is someone who can address local issues and can well communicate BJP’s idea to the voters.
While Congress’ top brass always decided its strategy and leaders in states, BJP always had a tradition to fight elections to fight battles in patroonship.
The rise of leaders likes Vasundhara Raje in Rajasthan, Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Madhya Pradesh, Raman Singh in Chhattisgarh, BS Yedyurappa in Karnataka and Narendra Modi himself in Gujarat is the result of BJP’s organised political strategy on state levels.
It seems that BJP will now take a different approach towards election campaigns. The new strategy will be more of a mix of strong campaigning by local leadership with a backing by central leadership with a brand Modi added to it.