Although the “Modi-era” in Indian politics can be analysed through several parameters, the one which particularly stands out is BJP’s electoral successes post 2014.
Nine years since PM Modi assumed charge, the BJP has maintained its dominance in national as well as state elections despite witnessing some lows here and then.
From 7 to 15
When the Modi government first came to power in 2014, there were BJP governments in 7 states. In 5 states (Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Goa), there was a BJP chief minister. In Andhra Pradesh and Punjab, the party was the junior ally in the NDA government.
Today, the BJP’s tally of states/UTs has swelled to 15. The party is either in power on its own or part of the ruling alliance in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Assam, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim and Puducherry.
Surge in 2018
The party’s state tally saw a magnificent high in March 2018 when BJP was in power in as many as 22 states across India. This was right after the elections in the northeastern states of Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland.
The map above shows BJP’s impressive footprint across the north, east and western parts of the country in 2018. The political landscape, however, changed a few months later when Congress defeated BJP in the heartland states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
The BJP’s electoral conquest could not have been complete without the addition of India’s most politically crucial state of Uttar Pradesh.
Three years after BJP won the mandate in UP during the Lok Sabha elections (it captured 71 out of the state’s 80 constituencies) the saffron party followed it up with an impressive victory in the state elections.
The credit for BJP’s 2017 victory in UP went to solely to PM Modi since he led the party’s campaign front and centre. In 2022, BJP retained power in the state again, further cementing PM Modi’s popularity.
Saffron citadel in northeast
The most notable addition to BJP’s kitty of states has been the entire northeastern region. In the map, one can see that the party had zero presence here prior to 2014. However, today, it is part of the government in all the eight states except Manipur.
The BJP’s rise to prominance in the northeast began after it swept the 2016 elections in Assam, just two years after PM Modi came to power. Subsequently, it wrested Tripura from the Left rule and forged key alliances in states like Sikkim, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Manipur.
Southern challenge & some setbacks
Although it has been a glorious run for BJP in the last nine years, there have also been a few setbacks.
The biggest setback for BJP came in 2018 when it lost three states in one go to the Congress. Since then, BJP has managed to wrest Madhya Pradesh from the grand old party. However, the party will have to win power in states like Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan to regain control over the heartland.
Aside from this, power has eluded the party in the southern states. In 2023, it lost its only southern citadel after a dismal performance in Karnataka.
Unlike West Bengal and Odisha where BJP has emerged as a tough challenger to the ruling parties over the years, it remains on the political sidelines in states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
However, in 2023, it is hoping to make big gains in Telangana with hopes that it may well provide the much-needed boost to its prospects in the region.