y now you all must be very much excited and awaiting for election results. Everybody believes that 2019 elections will not be as simple a victory for BJP like that of 2014. More or less Prime Minister Narendra Modi has miserably failed on fulfilling his election promises. Moreover, his arrogance in attacking opposition was not very appealing to the people. No doubt, Modi is favourite leader of the most but people expect their leader to be more cultured. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is everyday accusing Modi of corruption in Rafale deal. Other parties also accuse Modi of promoting communalism and division in the society. All the eyes have turned towards UP and Smriti Irani. UP is having largest number of seats of Member of Parliament. Retaining UP’s maximum seat is big challenge ahead.
Last general elections in 2014, the nation went into a frenzy campaign mode from mid-2013 and Modi, who was announced the PM face of BJP in September, was doing rallies on a record pace. There was a strong anti-incumbency wave against Congress. The Congress folks were clueless, Manmohan Singh had said that he won’t take the third term, there was no consensus on their Prime Ministerial face and Congress put up a weak show against the BJP’s canvas of development and the strong image of Modi. But since 2014, the scenario is different. Modi came to power keeping his lavishes and extravagant talks but in reality he has failed on various fronts. Only one good thing he did was his own media management, the media that has accepted the slavery kept on praising him no matter what. By giving them scripted interviews Modi also managed damage control but he could not bring the change that he promised.
A voter who was unhappy with performance of the Vasundhara Raje government in Rajasthan is also unhappy with PM Modi. Similarly, those who voted for Congress in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh would not necessarily prefer Rahul Gandhi to Narendra Modi in 2019 polls. The close contests that we’ve just witnessed clearly show the absence of any major wave in favour of either party. What has played out, more likely, is anti-incumbency combined with a certain degree of fatigue for familiar faces.
Global brokerages did take a serious view of the election outcome but were not ready to give up on Narendra Modi yet, saying his party still has a bright chance of notching up an average majority in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The Modi factor still has the potential to change the political discourse in these three states in 2019; the popularity of PM Modi is way ahead of other politicians in these states including the outgoing chief ministers of BJP. Despite the anti-incumbency, the BJP’s vote share in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan was almost equal to the Congress, which emerged victorious. Party leaders believe that the National Democratic Alliance is intact and it will retain power at the Centre in 2019 under Modi’s leadership.
Even if this does not mean the end of the BJP’s poll prospects, the party has been given a strong wake-up call. They have to pull something else out of the bag to win big in 2019. That was an emotive construction of the Ram Mandir, another surgical strike, Pulwama attack and air strike. All this was done to garner some votes. And as I said, Modi in his campaign asked votes in the name of martyred jawans. This is where the BJP’s “x-factor,” NaMo, could make all the difference for his losing fate. We know that elections are not won only on the basis of actual deliverables on the ground or even on the basis of good governance or development alone. What is needed is a rallying point, a wave to cement the masses into a cohesive political force that backs one party. The most important takeaway has been that the Congress is very much in the political game, as India’s second largest national party, having staged an impressive come back. Will Rahul Gandhi, as a leader, be able to take his party from just presenting this neck-to-neck competition to a certain victory? This is yet to be seen.
Right now, there isn’t a strong anti-incumbency against the sitting Prime Minister. He may not be as popular a face for PM as he was in 2013 and 2014, but he still enjoys common popularity as being the leader India wants as its PM.
People still don’t have the faith in the Congress and its leaders. And there is no concrete third front build up as of now. The SP+BSP alliance which could seriously damage the prospects of BJP in UP is not clear. The regional satraps in Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and many other states swing. This, in short, hints towards a possible BJP swing in elections. BJP in all likelihood would not get a clear majority of 272+ seats as it got last time. The 60–90 number that Arun Shourie and many opposition strategists sounds like a ‘Black Swan’ moment (BJP winning 90 per cent seats in states which contribute 60 per cent strength of Lok Sabha or the Lower House of Parliament) isn’t happening. But, BJP could still manage 200+ seats, enough to cobble up an NDA alliance and install Modi as PM for the second term. Why the above scenario seems plausible is because Rahul Gandhi is no magnet that can pull off an amazing victory centering on him. Even by cobbling parties together in a pre-poll setup he might not cross 150 seats in all likelihoods making the halfway mark of 272 extremely tough for any Non-NDA government or alliance to form. He simply doesn’t spell out or perhaps possibly has a vision for India that the electorate can buy.
In short, I believe there are good prospects of a second NDA government. It won’t be the one with a full majority but one with a decent majority. BJP has seen its local and global maxima and it would be on a downward curve. But it is not yet as weak to be thrown in by a Congress with Rahul Gandhi or by a split third front with many big states not being part of it.
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