The tables have turned on India’s biggest opposition party in the country’s heartland.
As 2019’s general elections draw to a close, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has claimed victory in the electorally significant Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Rajasthan states—where its rival, the Congress, had come out on top during assembly elections just five months back.
From anti-incumbency to the appeal of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, and voter fury over demonetisation—myriad factors reportedly swayed voters in favour of the Congress during the state elections held in November and December last year.
In Chhattisgarh, especially, agrarian distress worked against the BJP as grassroots officials ran amok with land records and tainted government schemes with corruption-laden processes.
Despite the wins in the assembly elections, Congress has sweated in the current Lok Sabha elections. Just as the exit polls had predicted, final results revealed a clean sweep for prime minister Narendra Modi’s party.
Congress’s inability to make good on its promise of waiving farmers’ loans likely worked in BJP’s favour, among other reasons. Moreover, citizens vote differently in assembly and Lok Sabha elections, possibly choosing Modi at the national level despite favouring another party locally.
Although the assembly elections marked a divergence, BJP’s popularity appears to be back in sync with 2014 levels. Then, BJP had won all 25 seats in Rajasthan. It won all but two of the 29 seats in Madhya Pradesh and 10 of the 11 seats in Chhattisgarh. In the three elections since Chhattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh in 2002, Congress has never won more than one seat there.
As of 3.15pm on counting day, 2019 looked like a repeat performance of the last parliamentary race five years ago:
Read Quartz’s coverage of the 2019 Indian general election here.