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Will BJP-NDA sweep 2014 polls?

November 1, 2013

Repeated surveys have shown that the BJP led NDA will do better than Congress led UPA. The latest CNN-IBN and The Week magazine polls have given the NDA between 175-195 seats and the UPA between 115 to 140 seats. Surprisingly it is the remaining parties which can be termed as the Third Front that is getting more than 200 seats according to these polls. The survey was limited to these four states that are going to the polls but do give an idea of which way the wind is blowing.

From the various polls conducted it is clear that the BJP is sweeping in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Chattisgarh and Rajasthan. Congress tally will dip considerably. But are these states sufficient to bring the NDA to power in the centre? The answer is a resounding NO! BJP and NDA will have to do much better than last time in other states, most critically Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Bihar. If they can ally with Prafull Mahanta and make a dent in Assam it will be an added bonus. Andhra will vote for regional parties whether it is the TRS (Telangana Rashtriya Samiti) or Jagan Mohan Reddy’s YSR Congress. Telugu Desam Party will chip in with a few seats and it appears that Chandrababu Naidu already has a pact with the NDA. Jagan Reddy is also in touch with the BJP although the Hindu party is anti-thesis to his ideology, yet his angst with Congress is such that he will not hesitate to ally with the BJP if it ensures a Congress defeat.

There is a wave in favour of Narendra Modi. Where ever he has gone he has managed good response. He is a good communicator. Contrast that with Rahul Gandhi’s innumerable faux passes and it adds to the Modi aura. People compare what options they have. The electronic media has brought Modi to the homes of millions of Indians. People are flocking to his rallies.

The CNN-IBN/The Week polls have shown the tally of around 180 seats to the NDA when the campaigning has not even begun. Once the campaigning is in full swing the national mood should shift more decisively towards NDA and Modi led BJP.

People are not fools. They observe and then they decide. The biggest help that Modi has received has been from the UPA itself. Their non-performance has forced the electorate into the lap of the NDA. The government is just not functioning. Ideologues like Aruna Roy may counter that massive welfare schemes have been started with a view to benefitting the poor. The question remains, do the people want to live on doles or do they want jobs and a fair price for their produce. From the kind of tumultuous response that Narendra Modi has got it appears that these welfare schemes have left the common Indian dissatisfied. Nothing else can explain the fanatical response that Narendra Modi is receiving.

The good news from NDA’s point of view is that in Uttar Pradesh which sends some 80 MP’s to the Lok Sabha there has seen mis-governance by the Samajwadi Party. People are absolutely dissatisfied with the way this government in Lucknow is functioning. Riots, which had become a thing of the past have again taken place and more than 50,000 people have been displaced while hundreds have lost their lives. There is no developmental work and people are not sure who calls the shots in Lucknow – whether it is Akhilesh Yadav or his father Mulayam Singh Yadav or their close confidante Azam Khan. This dissatisfaction has led to a vacuum in Uttar Pradesh. Mayawati and the Congress may have a pact in UP. But if they don’t then BJP should gain. It must be remembered that people vote differently in Assembly elections and in Lok Sabha elections. If the people feel that BJP led NDA is winning in other states they may decide to vote for them rather than for a regional party like the BSP or the SP. The Modi wave in the Hindi heartland should extend to Uttar Pradesh too. If the BJP organizes well, and with a man like Amit Shah at the helm, the BJP could very well win anything between 30 to 40 seats in Uttar Pradesh.

Bihar is another important state. The parting of ways between the JD(U) and the BJP has been a blow to NDA but all is not lost. People are realizing that while Nitish Kumar is doing a better job than Lalu Yadav, it was Sushil Modi who was behind the good governance in Bihar. It is the two Modi’s that will fetch votes for the BJP in Bihar. There is every possibility that JD(U) might ally with the Congress. Alternatively they may not. The bloopers galore from Rahul Gandhi may make them do a re-think. Nitish Kumar has reiterated in his speeches that their anti-Congress stance is intact. If Congress finds an obdurate Nitish-Sharad team difficult to pacify then they might go along with Lalu Yadav. If such a development takes place Lalu Yadav may get bail and start campaigning in right earnest. If there is a three cornered fight between the BJP, JD(U) and Cong-RJD combine I reckon JD(U) and Cong-RJD will split votes and the net gainer should be the BJP. People have not liked JD(U) parting ways with the BJP. There is a simmering discontent within the JD(U) and the party may split before the elections. BJP should do better in Bihar than most psephologists are predicting.

Maharashtra has become an extension of the Hindi heartland. The kind of response that Narendra Modi got at the Mumbai airport showed which way the wind is blowing. Corruption charges and lack of governance have been the bane of Congress-NCP rule. There has hardly been any development and successive chief ministers have failed to deliver. There is an anti-Congress-NCP mood in Maharashtra but the question is – will the Modi led BJP and their allies the Shiv Sena be able to capitalize on it. The question veers to the role of Raj Thackrey’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and how it will impact the chances of the saffron brigade. Gopinath Munde of the BJP has been trying hard to tinker a reconciliation between the two cousins – Udhav and Raj Thackrey. If at all the Congress-NCP alliance wins some seats it will be because the two brothers pulling in opposite directions. Modi has a good equation with Raj Thackrey. He can barely stand Udhav. But the political compulsions are such that Shiv Sena has a very deep rooted organization while MNS is still trying to carve a niche for itself. The success or failure of NDA in Maharashtra could be the decisive factor as to whether there will be an NDA government at the Centre.

Odisha and Naveen Patnaik are synonymous now. Yet, it will be foolish to think that there is no room for other parties.  Naveen Patnaik has no love lost for the Congress. The problem with Congress is that they do not let regional leaders to consolidate. The times of JB Patnaik are over. Congress needs to cultivate credible leadership in Odisha but now there is no time left. Naveen Patnaik is a three time Chief Minister and people are looking for change. BJP has some regional leaders but none can match Naveen Patnaik’s stature. It will be interesting to see how the people of Odisha vote in the 2014 elections. BJP should do better than what they did earlier.

Assam will be critical too. Can Asom Gana Parishad and BJP chip in with a few seats. Varun Gandhi has been given the onerous task of overseeing Assam. Will the Modi magic extend to Guwahati? If NDA does well in Haryana and Uttarakhand they can gather another few seats. Jammu should send a BJP MP. Punjab with Akali’s should see NDA get most of the seats. Congress is a discredited lot in Punjab.

In Karnataka the Karnataka Janata Party of BS Yeddyurappa is keen to have a regional alliance with the BJP. Efforts are on to get BSY back into the party, but he may not want to go back to his old foes in New Delhi. Besides BSY reckons that in the next election he will be able to gobble up the state unit of the BJP and should emerge as the largest party. He will want to wait and watch. If there is no alliance between the KJP and BJP in Karnataka then Congress should do well. Modi wave without BSY will have little electoral meaning.

I have a hunch that the BJP might win a seat or two in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The Modi effect could be felt there. If the BJP as much as opens an account in either of the two states, it will mean a lot to the NDA.

Is there a Modi wave or is it disillusionment with the Congress. It could well be one because of the other. Regional parties from the North East may also reach out to the BJP though it must be admitted that the role of the Church could mean that they may decide to stay away. Manohar Panniker’s Goa will be another BJP strong-hold and we might see a few BJP Goan Catholics in the parliament.

It is too early to predict the final outcome of the 2014 elections. Security for BJP leadership including Mr. Modi is a cause for concern. Patna serial blasts have been an eye-opener. Better security must be provided to all leaders including Narendra Modi.

It will not be a sweep by the BJP led NDA and a lot will depend on how they manage alliances within different states. What is clear is that there is a perceptible anti-Congress mood in the country and the one hope for people is Narendra Modi. If that translates into votes the BJP should cross the 200 seat mark and with their allies, some of whom may not be in the open as of now, the NDA should be able to cobble together a government that should last its term.

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