Lok Sabha polls: No cake walk for BJP

Prime Minister Modi’s “Ab Ki Baar 400 Paar” slogan may not prove to be true.

This election is the psephologist’s nightmare. With the electorate keeping its views close to its chest, it is extremely difficult to say who is going to win the 2024 race.

However, one thing is clear that Prime Minister Modi’s “Ab Ki Baar 400 Paar” slogan may not prove to be true.

There is no strong antipathy against Modi government, so most feel that the electorate may give Modi another chance to form the government. But then there is no strong pro-incumbency feel either.

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Analysts feel that the kind of massive majority BJP-led NDA enjoys today, may not be increased or repeatable. Rather it may go down a little.

The question is when the people are neither dissatisfied nor fully satisfied with Modi, will they give a chance to the new INDIA bloc, which is portraying itself as a possible alternative?

No one knows the answer.

There is no “hawa” or wave either for the BJP-led NDA or for the Congress-led INDIA bloc.

The consecration of the Ram Mandir seems to have taken away one of the major talking points of the BJP  (give us power and we will give you the mandir). Other issues seem not to have had the kind of emotive power and nationwide traction that the mandir had, whether it be Article 370 or UCC.

BJP would be looking for an issue which would again make the masses all over the country flock towards it. Mandir was one such issue, but it cannot drum beat only about the Mandir, as it is a done deal.

BJP-led NDA has already got its maximum seats from all its areas of influence. It can get extra seats from southern and eastern regions but there the regional satraps have their sway.

No wonder Prime Minister Modi is striving very hard to make inroads in the southern states where BJP hopes to gain seats to further its tally.

But the INDIA bloc has been underlining the deep north-south divides in its attempt to consolidate the anti-BJP votes in its fold and trying to portray BJP as only a north-Indian party that does not understand the southern ethos.

Like the fight in Tamil Nadu is being highlighted as primarily a fight between AIADMK and DMK even though BJP is contesting there.

On the face of it, it does not seem that the BJP is likely to get over 400 which may have been put as a target more to enthuse the party workers rather than anything else.

The whole question is even though Prime Minister Modi is holding innumerable rallies all over the country with a large turnout of people coming to hear what he has to say, but will the vast crowds seen in rallies turn into votes for BJP?

In India, we do not have a presidential system of government but rather a parliamentary system of government. It is your local BJP Member of Parliament whose victory in the elections becomes a must if eventually Modi must come back to power at the Centre.

Therefore, if people at the ground level are not happy with the BJP candidate and do not vote for his party, then the chance of BJP or Modi returning to power becomes limited.

The Modi magic plus the invincible juggernaut of Modi-Shah combine and the victories they used to register when the party was climbing to power, has slowed down.

Despite BJP bringing in its big guns in time of elections there have been losses in some states like Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, West Bengal among others.

The ‘sure shot winner’ tag that BJP had earlier once it had trounced Congress at the Centre in 2014 is no more.

Today INDIA bloc has states like Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, West Bengal.

It is also a formidable force and its on its own risk that the ruling BJP can take it easy by dubbing the entire opposition alliance as a conglomerate of corrupt parties.

BJP must not take its INDIA bloc lightly because this time round, the Opposition feels that it is a “do or die” situation and has been assiduously trying to put its house in order.

One of the points which is weighing on the minds of the people is that how come there is no raid on any BJP leader for corruption? Even when the party claims to have zero tolerance for corruption.

How come those leaders who are facing charges (sometimes blamed by BJP leaders themselves) of corruption are taken into the fold of BJP.

Secondly, how come they no longer face any stringent charge once they join BJP and become clean.

Even though the BJP says that not one charge of those facing charges has been lifted whether they join BJP or not.

The electoral bond scheme is likely to harm the BJP because Opposition has started attacking the BJP alleging that it is the biggest scam the country has seen and it’s a way to extort money from big business houses for favors which the BJP being in power could award.

The arrest of AAP leader Kejriwal may have been law taking its own course, but the timing is something which Opposition finds very suspicious – just before elections.

It may have been a wrong move. The AAP has also been able to draw loopholes into the charges put against it on the liquor scam.

Eventually, politics all comes down to a question of perception. Which party’s argument is bought by the public at large that party is going to be successful.

Nearly 40 Opposition parties have gathered together, cobbling up some sort of INDIA alliance just to demonstrate to the public that there is a united front and an available alternative to the BJP behemoth.

 Not only that, many of these leaders have their own large individual followings which coming together can be a formidable number and BJP would take the alliance lightly only at its own risk.

The BJP has tried again and again to make this election into a presidential kind of election primarily by putting Modi against Rahul Gandhi.

The Opposition parties are also very clever and are not getting into the trap of pitting Rahul against Modi, they have not announced any specific leader or any Prime Ministerial face despite prodding by the BJP, not to give advantage to BJP to make it into a presidential kind of election.

The choice of its leader or Prime Minister will rightfully be taken only when INDIA wins the election and is put in a position to decide on a person to lead the country.

But BJP keeps on wanting to know who is the PM face of the Opposition and points out derisively that the Opposition has not been able to select even a PM candidate. Selecting one among several tall leaders before elections will lead to bickering and be counterproductive.

Therefore INDIA alliance has kept this decision in abeyance.

The BJP this time cannot play the dynastic card too because many leaders in their own party too come from dynasty and Congress itself has no dynast as its chief.

With no wave being there and people being urged to vote Modi for the third time, the common voter  would like to know how Modi’s ten years government had improved his life.

Whether the great achievements of the country in the economic front or holding G-20 summit or putting Chandrayaan on the Moon has made any difference to his life beset with problems of unemployment, rampant price rise and inability to meet the daily needs.

Are common poor people who form the majority of the voters, have improved their living conditions? Are they sufficiently financially empowered that they could fulfil all their needs? Everyone remembers the promised 15 lakhs in the pocket of every Indian, besides all the black money abroad being brought back.

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