|T N Ashok, political analyst (inset)
2014 general elections is getting curious. There is a tremendous
ground swell for Modi as the Prime Minister from the BJP led NDA judging by the programmes and advertisements beamed day in day out by almost all the TV channels, at least in northern India. Its bordering on a hype being created by the channels, which some political observers claim, is a determined objective to occupy the mind space of the voters before the elections so that they remember the BJP symbol and Modi as the man to vote for.
BJP has also put up some weak candidates against some powerful adversaries. One could say it’s a token fight as BJP itself knows that the outcome is not going to be in their favour. Take for instance Smriti Irani, a BJP MP and a onetime popular TV serial actress, is contesting against the mighty Rahul Gandhi. She is a political light weight against Rahul because she longer enjoys the TV serial advantage. Also AAP has put up a verse writer Kumar Vishwas in the same amethi constituency of Rahul Gandhi, he is popular but not a giant killer.
So the strategy of the leading political parties is very clear: While the canons are arraigned against each other, top leaders are spared – BJP dare not oppose Sonia Gandhi, Congress dare not oppose Modi, AAP dare not oppose Rahul or Sonia. So it’s all token fights ‘while public posturing may be different to keep a semblance of a fight in front of the voters.
On AAP, which is campaigning vigorously in the northern belt of UP and Bihar and even in Maharashtra in Western India, the party came with a lot of expectations from the people in the Delhi assembly polls capturing some 28 of 40 seats, but faltered by first seeking its adversary Congress’s support to form the government and 2) resigning in haste over the lok pal bill betraying the trust of the Delhi voters. My reckoning of election trends and views from trusted sources in the political firmament, the party has lost its momentum and cannot muster more than 20 seats maximum, But that’s enough for them to create havoc at the centre with the lung power they will have through their intellectuals and might of knowledge power.
Areas they could get votes: UP, Haryana, Delhi, Punjab, Karnataka and some scattered seats in rest of India.
Gut feeling: For all the so called Modi hype in the media, the BJP Led NDA front is just crossing the 200 figure mark with or without the allies???? But that would be a setback for the BJP. Both Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries and Gautam Adani of the Adani industrial group, both hail from Gujarat land of Modi, are known admirers of Na Mo and his style of development in Gujarat. Wanting the same in rest of the country and obviously irked by the policy paralysis in the Manmohan Singh government, they are said to be funding the election campaigns
of Na Mo to the hilt.
Some NRI s from USA and UK and some parts of Europe are also said to have pumped in huge quantities of money in the elections on fears that Modi might be their last best bet for stable, effective and good governance for the country, as any 3rd front alliance based on opportunism and no clear objectives or ideals on investments or economic policies could take the country down further from where the
Congress led UPA alliance had left the country with its populist
schemes of an expenditure splurge in the midst of a recession that showed no signs of abating. All major industries are backing Modi as they want the country out of policy paralysis. Evidence can be seen in the statements of trade bodies such as CII, FICCI and ASSOCHAM.
Again we have some uncorroborated reports purportedly fed by
Intelligence agencies that the BJP in its last ditch effort to seize
power at the centre, having found a powerful candidate such as Modi to catch the imagination of the people, had splurged upwards of Rs 100 crore each on top TV channels in terms of advertisement and endorsement support. No one has any idea of how much the campaigning in the electronic media has cost the BJP but, it’s in hundreds of crores , informed sources said.
Whether the election coverage by some of these TV channels helps create a hype around Modi as the possible saviour of the country in the political and economic front bringing in stability in both spheres is something that has to be tested because the BJP election campaign has to successfully translate into votes.
Is the Modi hype a balloon or real? : How strong is the ground swell for Modi, will it stay inflated or burst is the million dollar
question. One hopes the Modi hype does not end up as a damp squib as the India shining campaign of 2009 because this time around the BJP has mustered all its strength to swing it to power – projecting a charismatic candidate such as Modi, who has the power of oratory and the magical skills of marketing. Enormous funding for the election campaigns, a huge army led for the first time by its potent grass root force the RSS which has jumped into the election fray.
It’s no secret that in political campaigns, cadre based parties always hold the trump card, BJP has a tremendous cadre in the RSS, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Baj Rang Dal etc. Barring the CPI and CPM or the DMK, none of the other political parties have this advantage of a cadre based working system
What seems to be clear is that with the new 10 crore voters in the age group of 18 to 25 voting for the first time, the possibility of a 3rd front emerging to form the government as in the period before 2004 does not seem a possibility. Majority of them are said to be anti-congress because of unemployment situation during the recession and they are said to be going either with BJP or the AAP. They will decide the new government as they hold the swing vote.
Based on the above scenarios emerging, it’s safe to make some educated guesses as to the outcome of the people’s verdict based on some pre poll surveys.
Scenario One: Modi Wave: Based on his personal charisma and Gujarat model of development as BJP led NDA’s election campaign USP.
BJP + plus NDA allies = 270 to 300 seats.
(BJP 190 to 250 seats and allies 80 to 50 seats)
Scenario Two: Vote for change not necessarily based on a Modi WAVE.
BJP + plus NDA allies = 200 to 220 seats.
(BJP 180 to 200 seats and allies 40 to 20 seats)
Key states which matter:
Uttar Pradesh (80), Bihar (50), Rajasthan (25), Madhya Pradesh (40), Punjab (13), Maharashtra (48), Gujarat (26), West Bengal (42).
Media reports suggest that BJP has put in max efforts in UP and Bihar to get anything between 80 to 90 seats destabilising the current war lords there in terms of BSP led by Mayawati and SP led by Mulayam Singh Yadav and obliterating the Congress. Rajasthan, MP and Chattisgarh, where BJP regimes already administer the state, are expected to get them the additional numbers. Maharashtra where BJP is tied up with the potent Shiv Sena and Gujarat, home state, could provide the swing, unless division in the shiv sena ranks as between the rivalries of Uddhav and Raj Thackeray upsets the apple cart and splits the votes in favour of the Congress and NCP in Maharashtra. Low voting in the state has also causes some fears.
Guestimates: Uttar Pradesh — BJP 49, BSP 16, SP 14, and Congress 06.
Bihar: BJP 24, JD (U) 13, RJD
10, Cong 04
Rajasthan BJP 22 rest others
MP BJP 27 rest others
Punjab BJP+ SAD 19 rest others
Maharashtra BJP + SS 24, Cong+NCP 20
Gujarat BJP 20, Cong 04, AAP 01.
As per this projection, BJP should get 185 out of 315 seats in seven key states in north and west and central India. This not an entirely a wave but something short of it.
In the south projections for key states are: Karnataka: Congress will do well with 18 seats, BJP 10, JD(S) 8. Andhra Pradesh: YSR Congress 19 seats, Congress 06, TDP 15 and TRS 08. Tamil Nadu AIADMK 23, DMK 10, Congress 02, BJP alliance 04.
This projection gives BJP 204 out of 382 seats in 10 key states. The remaining 13 seats with 161 seats hold the key to government formation.
It’s anybody’s guess that with the most powerful publicity blitz ever launched by a political party in a general election centred around one personality, the BJP will emerge as the single largest party. But will it fall short of the mark or succeed in mustering the right numbers to form the government? Wait and Watch. The suspense has not yet abated. May16 is not far away. Lot of surprises could be in the offing.
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By T N Ashok (a former election analyst of pti).
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