As the BJP prepares for the 2019 electoral battle, feedback from the ground suggests that the saffron party could face serious threat not just from the might of a combined Opposition, but also anger against some of its own sitting MPs, leading to a loss of 60-75 parliamentary seats across the country.
At the meeting of the RSS and BJP’s top brass called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday, leaders discussed how the party may have to replace 40 to 55 per cent of its sitting MPs, including ministers, who, according to feedback, are facing strong anti-incumbency.
According to sources privy to the discussion at the meeting, these MPs are either unpopular in their constituencies, or are not known at all. Some of them have barely set foot in their constituencies in the four years since they won the seat riding on the Modi wave, sources said.
Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh could be among the states where the BJP could see the maximum number of its MPs being replaced as feedback suggests that the party could lose nearly 25 to 30 seats in Uttar Pradesh alone.
At the Saturday meeting, which was attended by RSS second-in-command Bhaiyya Joshi, BJP president Amit Shah and Union minister Rajnath Singh, along with other senior RSS leaders, it was decided that the RSS will depute its leaders on all parliamentary seats to collect feedback on various issues
Though the BJP has already decided to depute three office-bearers to each Lok Sabha seat, the Sangh Parivar cadre plays a crucial role in shaping and implementing the BJP’s electoral strategies.
In 2014, the BJP had registered a historic win when it won 282 out of the total 543 parliamentary seats. A loss of 60 seats would mean that BJP would not have a clear majority on its own.
In Uttar Pradesh, where caste plays a crucial role, the RSS-BJP leadership discussed the possibility of taking on a joint Opposition, which had posed a serious challenge in some of the recently held bypolls in the state.
Though the BJP performed exceptionally well in the last Lok Sabha polls by bagging 71 of the total 80 parliamentary seats and registered a massive sweep in the Assembly polls, feedback suggests that regional satraps will dominate and may control the narrative if they decide to join forces against the BJP in 2019.
The BJP lost crucial Lok Sabha seats, including Gorakhpur, Phulpur and Kairana, in bypolls to the regional players who had joined forces against it.
At the meeting leaders also discussed how the RSS-BJP leadership needs to make its reach-out programmes in Northeast and non-BJP ruled states more aggressive.