BJP's defeat in the four states, - Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal - and the union territory of Puducherry, can be an indication of BJP losing its grip.
Sudheendra Kulkarni, who was an aide to India's former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has talked about this in an opinion piece published on NDTV today.
Kulkarni called the results being "apocalyptic for the party ruling at the Centre" and went on to explain why this result can be devastating for BJP.
He wrote, "It rarely happens - but it has happened now - that the timing of an election result becomes as crucial as the result itself." He further talked about how Modi is currently being observed on the international stage due to his management of the Covid-19 pandemic, "Modi, in particular, is currently facing the worst crisis of his prime ministerial tenure because of the widespread perception, both in India and abroad, that his government has monumentally mismanaged the Covid crisis."
He then talked about what this could mean, "This perception has solid basis in reality. Even without the BJP's average performance in the five assemblies, Modi had begun feeling the heat of unprecedented criticism over his palpable failure to anticipate and plan for the second wave of the pandemic. Now, the heat will surely intensify due to the timing of the election results - they have arrived right in the midst of the daily news of Covid-related calamities from almost all parts of the country".
About the election campaign in West Bengal, he said that even though BJP put in a lot of money in their campaigns in West Bengal, the "ordinary and elite Bengalis" saw through their gimmick. He wrote about his own experience about it, "As someone who stayed in West Bengal for almost the entire stretch of electioneering, I heard many independent observers derisively say that 'Modi and Shah have become daily passengers coming to our state'. Even more annoying was the unbecoming content of the speeches by Modi and Shah. It was certainly not prime ministerial of Modi to make 'Didi-o-Didi' taunts. They brought him instant applause from paid BJP supporters who had been bussed to attend his election rallies, but most "ordinary and elite Bengalis" saw it as an insult to a woman."
The writer then reminded us that Modi has made more snide remarks before, "Modi had made a similar nasty remark while addressing the BJP's election rally at Brigade Parade ground in Kolkata on March 7. Taking a jibe at Mamata Banerjee's scooter ride to protest against the rising fuel prices, Modi had quipped, 'We don't want anyone to get hurt, but if Didi's scooty has decided to fall in Nandigram, then what can we do?'
Kulkarni then explained why BJP's defeat in West Bengal is particularly worrisome for Modi, he said it is because his party had projected him as Mamata Banerjee's rival in the state. He also said, "It was a foolhardy decision because the BJP thought that the Prime Minister's imagined 'popularity' alone would be enough to secure victory. This theory about Modi's 'popularity' - and hence his election-winning ability - will now be called into question, not only since it has failed in West Bengal, but also because his leadership has failed to prevent widespread deaths and agony due to the corona pandemic. Worse still, Modi and Shah, disregarding and violating the Covid restrictions laid down by their own government, recklessly continued their electioneering in the state. In short, the BJP's principal assets could be fast losing their value."
Kulkarni then talked about the BJP's hatred towards Muslims and how that has affected the outcome of the results. "When four poor voters - all Muslims - were killed in firing by central security forces manning the poll process at Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar district, there was no word of condolence or condemnation from them. Instead, senior leaders of the state unit of the BJP said more should have been killed. The party's anti-Muslim bias was evident throughout the campaign. Not surprising, because its strategy to win the election was premised primarily on polarising the electorate on religious lines."
"For example, Suvendu Adhikari, a senior minister in Mamata Banerjee's government who defected from Trinamool Congress to the BJP, publicly bragged about the saffron party's "70 percent versus 30 percent" game plan - that is, consolidate the 70 percent Hindu votes and make ineffective the votes of nearly 30 percent Muslims. "Begum Mamata" is how many BJP leaders and supporters sought to malign the Chief Minister in the eyes of their party's Hindu supporters. The voters of West Bengal, both Hindu and Muslim, deserve our highest appreciation because they defeated this vile divisive strategy," he wrote.
BJP tried this "poisonous" polarisation tactic and succeeded in Assam but it failed in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Kerala because they all have strong and charismatic leaders.
Kulkarni ended his piece with a prediction, "Communal polarisation is the only card Modi-Shah (and Yogi Adityanath, whose state, Uttar Pradesh, will go to the polls next year) can conceivably play to keep the BJP in the reckoning in the 2024 parliamentary polls. But what if this card is spurned by voters in more and more states, which is very likely? And what if non-BJP parties begin to get their act together and forge a credible and united alternative platform - with Mamata Banerjee acting as the magnet - which, too, is very likely?"
The PM vs CM election results in West Bengal will leave Narendra Modi with greater political challenges in the months ahead.