QUICK TAKE: Budget, BJP's hazy 'road map' and ambitious political goals

The Union Budget, despite its stress on Atmanirbhar Bharat, is an attempt to provide sops to assembly poll-bound states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Assam.

The highway infrastructure work envisaged by the Union government includes building 8,500-km of highways by March 2022.

The breakup is – 3,500 km corridor in Tamil Nadu at Rs 1 lakh crore, 1,100 km in Kerala at an investment of Rs 65000 cr, 675 km in West Bengal at a cost of Rs 25000 cr and 1,300 km in Assam in next 3 years. All these are poll-bound states.

Though there is still a need for clarity on these announcements about the earmarked sum for each state, it is a fact that the BJP-led government has a huge political investment in all these states.

The BJP does not have much to boast about its prospects in the upcoming Kerala assembly polls, but it wants to be a serious contender for the opposition space, where the Congress-led United Democratic Front is struggling to retain its foothold.

In West Bengal, it is engaged in a high-voltage campaign against Mamata's TMC government.

Amit Shah has claimed only Mamata will remain in TMC by the time poll is declared, a reference to the series of high-profile defections engineered by the BJP from Trinamool in Bengal.

In Tamil Nau, which has garnered the highest allocation of Rs 1 lakh crore, the BJP was hoping to make a dent against Dravidian parties by cozying up to the likes of Rajnikanth, but the latter's withdrawal from political foray has upset the saffron party's plans.

The BJP's ties with the AIADMK has always been wobbly though the saffron party hopes to piggyback on the ruling dispensation to make some sort of a dent on the Dravidian terrain this time.

Puducherry is geographically considered an entity in Tamil terrain and hence many of the road project sops can get a natural extension from Tamil Nadu.

The NDA has a thin lead over the ruling Congress-led Secular Democratic Alliance (SDA) in Puducherry as per Opinion Poll conducted by C-Voter in collaboration with ABP News.

But opinion polls indicate the NDA will not able to wrest Bengal, where Trinamool still has an edge while the DMK-led front is poised to storm back to power.

The BJP also hopes to retain Assam, where it is in power.

But how far the road projects would pave the way to brighten the party's poll prospects remains to be seen.

Budget announcements will take time to unravel themselves and elections are slated in a few months.

So even if the announcements are followed up with the breakneck pace, there is little time for the impact of these 'projects' to 'sink in' the minds of the electorate. So these grand budget proposals are unlikely to bolster the BJP's ambitious political plans.

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