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Halfway through its tenure, BJP shifts focus to UP after Bengal loss

In a year when the second wave of Covid ravaged the country, the BJP also made vaccinations a part of its outreach strategy, holding camps on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's birthday on September 17.

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New Delhi: In the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic and farmers’ protests, the BJP, which is now halfway through its tenure in the Center, changed four Chief Ministers, fought an intense battle in West Bengal and lost but retained power in Assam. 

In a year when the second wave of Covid ravaged the country, the BJP also made vaccinations a part of its outreach strategy, holding camps on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday on September 17.

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Assembly elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry were announced in February but the states were in poll mode since the start of the year. 

A confident BJP brass addressed scores of rallies in West Bengal, with Modi launching a direct attack on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. His ‘didi o didi’ jibe came under criticism as crowded rallies continued amid rising Covid cases. 

The results were a shock to the BJP which was hoping to form a government in the state, it found consolation in Mamata Banerjee’s defeat in Nandigram. It emerged as the main opposition party and, for the first time, the Congress and Left did not win any seat. 

The BJP retained Assam, and a non-Congress government returned to power. The BJP won 60 seats and 75 with allies. 

Keen on making inroads in southern India, the BJP could not get much out of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The BJP fought 115 seats in Kerala and did not win any. It got 11.3 per cent of the total votes. 

In Tamil Nadu, for the first time the party got four MLAs. The BJP also joined the government in Puducherry as a coalition partner.

2021 saw BJP make a political gamble by changing four Chief Ministers and bring forward a new leadership. The changes were seen as an admission of anti-incumbency in the states. 

In poll-bound Uttarakhand, the BJP changed Chief Ministers twice this year. Trivendra Singh Rawat was replaced by Lok Sabha member Tirath Singh Rawat and in July, four months later, Rawat was replaced by two-time MLA Pushkar Singh Dhami. 

In Karnataka, the BJP let go B.S. Yediyurappa and brought in B.S. Bommai. In Gujarat, Vijay Rupani was replaced by Bhupendra Patel. 

Gujarat will go to the polls in the end of 2022 while Karnataka will pick a government in 2023. 

As the election results from sttes came, the second wave of Covid swept through amid shortages of beds, piling bodies at cremation and burial grounds, and floating bodies in rivers including the Ganga. 

There was speculation that Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP’s image took a hit due to the second wave as well as the farmers’ protests, could see a similar change. 

However, Modi endorsed Adityanath Yogi, patting his administration. 

With election heat simmering in Uttar Pradesh and four other states, the BJP, at the doorstep of 2022, it looking forward at the most crucial elections it will face before the next general elections. 

The party is presently ruling four of the five states: Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur besides UP. The Congress is in power in Punjab. 

Ahead of the assembly polls, Modi announced a repeal of the farm laws, a move which was welcomed by the BJP and seen as a political compulsion by many. 

After the pandemic hit, a meeting of BJP’s National Executive was held under the chairmanship of party president JP Nadda. Strengthening the organization up to the booth level was a key focus.

While UP is the most important election for the BJP in 2022, it is trying to claw back into Punjab in alliance with former Congress Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. 

A second term for Nadda as the BJP chief would be determined by the election outcome as would be the party’s prospects in the next general elections. 

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