Prime Minister Narendra Modi has emerged as a clear favourite for the 2019 general elections after the BJP's landslide victory in the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, top US experts on India have said. While one of the experts noted that the electoral results of the recently concluded Assembly polls in five states show that the 2014 Lok Sabha election results were not an aberration, another noted that Prime Minister Modi would continue to lead India after 2019.
The Assembly elections do not signal much of a change. The Uttar Pradesh election results showed that the 2014 general elections were not an "aberration," Adam Ziegfeld, Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the George Washington University said. "It was a big win for the BJP. Its candidates won with a much larger margin of victory as compared to the two previous winners - BSP and Samajwadi Party," he said.
Prime Minister Modi has been established by this election as the "clear and favourite winner" for the 2019 general elections, Sadanand Dhume, resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute said. "PM Modi is the front runner (for 2019)," he said.
However, Irfan Nooruddin, a professor at the Walsh School of Foreign Service at the Georgetown University predicted that in 2019, the BJP is unlikely to be get a simple majority and that Prime Minister Modi would likely be heading a coalition government. BJP is running a disciplined election campaign state-by-state, while the Opposition fails, he said. "The party does not do well in a state where it faces a direct opposition. BJP is beatable if the Opposition comes together," Mr Nooruddin said, adding that the party gains where it faces a fragmented opposition. He also said that by 2019, anti-incumbency would kick in.
"In this election, the BJP played the cast card while pretending to be above it," Sadanand Dhume, who was in Uttar Pradesh during the elections, said. "Demonetisation was extremely popular. Indian people who have suffered themselves in the wake of the policy, it won their heart and mind. Here is this man of sincerity who struck a principled blow to corrupt and the rich," he said referring to his conversation with people in the state.
Mr Dhume, however, says that PM Modi after this historic victory in Uttar Pradesh is unlikely to go for the kind of economic reforms the private sector would like to have.
India is going to bump up its economic reforms that directly affects the people of the country, said Alyssa Ayres, senior fellow for India, Pakistan and South Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations. Picking up four governments in states all across India, and having future prospects, it is unlikely to have an impact on foreign policy. Like demonetisation #IamNewIndia is the pledge that the Prime Minister is asking citizens to be part of. This is his new India campaign.
BJP will now pick up a lot of seats in Rajya Sabha which would help the ruling party to carry out its long pending reform like the land acquisition reform and labor reforms. They would tart picking up seats as early as 2018. BJP is looking at 2019 and beyond.