Assumptions: 1.Narendra Modi, as chairman of the national election and management committee, will lead the BJP campaign and be its likely Prime Ministerial candidate but this will not be stated explicitly till later this year. 2.Rahul Gandhi will not be declared the UPA’s Prime Ministerial candidate though he will be the face of the campaign. The BJP (195) + allies (30) + leaning BJP (49) are projected to win 274 seats. That’s a slim majority – but remember it’s without the JD(U), the BJD and other fence-sitters. The Congress (101) + allies (12) + leaning Congress (36) are projected to win 149 seats. The regional Third Front, despite the hype, is projected to muster only 122 seats with huge inbuilt ideological divisions: TMC (25) and the Left Front (20) in West Bengal (and Kerala); and BSP (18) and SP(21) in Uttar Pradesh.
Some important observations: 1.Modi’s campaign will have a major impact in the Hindi heartland – UP, Bihar, Rajasthan, Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Himachal. In Uttar Pradesh, the combined effect of Rajnath Singh and Modi could take the BJP from 10 seats to around two-thirds (35 seats) of its 1998 tally of 52 seats. 2.In Bihar, despite the likely triangular contest between the BJP, JD(U) and the Congress-RJD, the BJP could increase its tally from 12 seats (2009) to 16. Modi’s EBC (Extremely Backward Caste) status will result in a powerful coalition with the BJP’s traditional upper caste votes. 3.In Maharashtra, Gujarat and the Telengana region of Andhra, Modi’s impact could be decisive. The TRS is a likely NDA ally if a separate Telengana state is incorporated in the BJP’s election manifesto. 4.In Karnataka, Yeddyurappa’s return, or in a pre-poll alliance with the BJP – based on Modi’s equation with him – could turn the tide in the southern state.
5.The average voteshare of the BJP in the last four general elections (1998-2009) was 22.58%. In 1998, it won 182 seats with 25.59% voteshare. In 1999, it again won 182 seats with 23.75% voteshare. Allies make a difference so the 195 seats projected in this analysis could be possible in 2014 with a voteshare of around 26%. That’s a swing of 3.5% over the BJP’s average voteshare of 22.58% in 1998-2009 – or a swing of 7% over its voteshare of 18.80% in 2009. This is where the Modi and anti-incumbency factors intersect.
Polarisation? Of course it will occur. But polarisation is hardly new in Indian electoral politics. The Congress and the Samajwadi Party have polarised minorities for decades. The BSP has polarised Dalits for nearly as long. Regional parties have polarised votes on parochial grounds since the 1960s. Will polarising the majority community amount to communalising the election? Not if it’s based strictly on issues: governance, corruption, inflation, economic policy, security. Communalism and secularism in India anyway need to be redefined as I have argued in The ayatollahs of secularism. As the 2014 Lok Sabha poll campaign gathers pace alongside the state assembly campaigns, be prepared for a gamechanging election – certainly one that is likely to be the most historical since 1977.
Information courtesy : The Economic Times (http://goo.gl/IytMn)http://goo.gl/IytMn
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