The Congress will lose seats in the next Lok Sabha general election and the BJP will gain seats. That's a done matter. However, the real issue is how many seats the Congress will lose and how many the BJP will gain.
If the Congress loses a huge amount of seats, then those may be shared by various Opposition parties. Some things that will keep the BJP back...
1. Failure to back Modi: Most of the BJP leaders off late have talked of LK Advani as the Prime Ministerial candidate. Really? Not only did Advani fail spectacularly in the 2009 polls, but he is going to turn 87 in 2014! That's the future of the BJP?
The leadership's refusal to accept Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's popularity will cost them dear. It's not about Modi or the BJP. Any political party in the world has to back its most popular and charismatic leader. It's as simple as that.
2. Karnataka Corruption: There is no doubt that this is the most corrupt Government in the history of Independent India. However, even though the BJP has a fraction of the scams that the Congress has, it has them all the same.
That way its biggest negative mascot is Karnataka, where corruption and infighting have left its image in tatters.
3. Mainstream Media: From 2011 to now even as everything has been against the Congress, there is one entity that has tried its best to back it and that is the MSM. Of course, some of the scams have been so outrageous that the MSM has had no choice but to expose them.
But for everything else if you notice, the MSM is still trying to magnify the mistakes of the BJP and bury those of the Congress. They went out of their way to rubbish the BJP from 1998-2004 and succeeded.
While trying to save the Congress may be a lost cause, attacking the BJP continuously may still yield dividends for them.
4. Lack of identity: Once the BJP represented hardline Hindutva and that image peaked with the Ayodhya movement of 1992. That paid them dividends and they came to power at the Centre briefly in 1996 and then for a longer term in 1998.
When in power, they changed their image yet again. Prime Minister AB Vajpayee presented a moderate face and tried to be a statesman. The focus was on reform and foreign policy. When they lost in 2004, they were in total disarray.
What does the BJP stand for? They are divided on Hindutva. They are divided on reform. They are divided on Modi. A serious lack of identity will hamper their chances.
5. Allies: To start getting allies in good numbers, the BJP will have to be a clear 15 to 20 seats ahead of the Congress. Even if the Congress is behind by 5 seats, then they will get more allies. The Left will never go with the BJP and parties like Mulayam Singh Yadav's SP have built an entire strategy out of being anti-BJP.
6. Rural India: Urban India voted in the BJP in 1998 and voted it out in 2004. In 2009, Manmohan Singh emerged as a middle class hero. Urban India is ready to dump Manmohan and may be ready to embrace Modi.
But what about rural India? In 2009, some Congress workers went around spreading the rumour that NREGA would be scrapped if the BJP came to power. Whether that did the trick or not cannot be ascertained, but such schemes along with issues like food security and cash transfer will endear the villages.
The Congressmen are masters of the rural vote and it will be tough to totally dislodge them there.
7. Opposition vote is split: In 1977, everyone was just voting against Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her Emergency. The Janata Party was perfectly poised to cash in on that. In 1989, everyone was voting against Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and his Bofors. The Janata Dal was perfectly poised to cash in on that.
The 1991-96 government of Narasimha Rao may have delivered on the reforms front, but it was also riddled with scandals and Rao didn't have the required charisma. Then the Janata Dal failed and the NDA came to power for a full term.
But this time, while there has been a strong anti-Congress movement, the Opposition is split. Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal got greater mind space. The anti-corruption and anti-rape agitations were massive in nature, but by and large separated from the BJP.
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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/