There is huge difference between the general election 2014 and general election 2019. In the last Lok Sabha election, Narendra Modi, the then serving chief minister of Gujarat for a record third term, rode on a Modi wave and won the day for the NDA alliance by getting two third majority in Lok Sabha. As the nation goes to poll yet again, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking another mandate from people, we take a look as to why the task is much more difficult for him than the last time. Why the magic woven around Modi seems to have evaporated into thin air and why the charisma seems to have disappeared?
Electoral arithmetic doesn’t support BJP While the BJP is buoyed by the surgical strikes deep inside Pakistan and the recent shooting down of a satellite in outer space by a DRDO missile, the BJP’s chances don’t really look very bright at the moment. The saffron party that had surged on the anti-corruption plank and the personal image of Prime Minister Modi seems to have been left battered and bruised over Rafale and other allegations of corruption. The party hasn’t been able to clear doubts among the voters’ minds thanks to incessant allegations by the Congress president, Rahul Gandhi. Expose by The Hindu newspaper too hasn’t helped the cause either, creating doubts about the credibility of the party and the apparent clean image of Narendra Modi. The electoral arithmetic seems to be stacked against the saffron party also. While the BJP has invested heavily in southern states including Tamil Nadu and Kerala, besides of course in Karnataka, the fact that it has gone with AIADMK that is facing dissidence and anti-incumbency is not going to help the party either. Dinakaran, Sassikala’s nephew is expected to eat into the AIADMK votes substantially, helping DMK and Congress alliance to win overwhelmingly in the state. The state sends 39 MPs to Lok Sabha. In the Lok Sabha election 2014 that the AIADMK fought under the leadership of its extremely popular leader, late Jayalalithaa, the party won as many as 37 seats, while the BJP and PMK won one seat each. But five year down the road, things seem to have been completely reversed now and DMK and Congress combination seems to be all set to win an overwhelming large number of seats from the state. All the pre-poll surveys suggest a complete rout of the AIADMK led alliance in the state which also includes the BJP. The same is true of Kerala, where the Congress party is expected to improve its tally in the state. The state has 20 seats and in the last election, the party and its allies won 11 seats. Now the pre-polls surveys suggest a surge for the Congress and its allies. Karnataka is also a different ball game compared to the last Lok Sabha elections. The state that sends 28 MPs to the Lok Sabha, elected 17 MPs on BJP ticket. Congress won nine seats while the JDS won two seats from the state. Here it is important to note that the Congress and the JDS fought the elections separately. Now as the two parties are in alliance, they are expected to perform much better compared to the last election. There was nominal difference in vote share of the Congress and the BJP. The BJP had secured 43 percent votes while the Congress had got 41 percent votes. On the other hand, the JDS had secured 11 percent of the popular vote. With the Congress and the JDS coming together, the combination is expected to win the majority of the seats in this important state. Hindi heartland no longer BJP’s fief Hindi heartland that had become impregnable for its opponents and used to be the BJP’s fief till very recently seems to be turning against it. In the assembly elections in Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the saffron party suffered humiliating losses, propelling the Congress party to come to power in the three Hindi heartland states. A report by IndiaSpend says that in the assembly elections held in November 2018, the BJP lost as many as 180 seats that it won in 2013, while the Congress party gained as many as 162 seats across Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. In the assembly election conducted in the year 2013, the saffron party had emerged victorious in as many as 377 seats while the Congress party had managed to win merely 118 seats. This means the BJP lost 48 percent of the seats it won in 2013, and the Congress gained 137 percent. The IndiaSpend report goes on to add that “Of 678 seats in MP, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Telangana and Mizoram--which account for a sixth or 15.2 percent of India’s population--the Congress won 305 seats, and the BJP won 199”. There is no denying that the assembly election results give clear insight as to how the electorate are going to vote in the parliamentary elections 2019. In UP and Bihar, the BJP had completely decimated the opposition in the last Lok Saba polls. But this time, things are looking starkly different in both the states that together send as many as 120 MPs to the Lok Sabha. The coming together of the Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) has certainly queered the pitch for the saffron party. With a vote share of 41.3 percent, the BJP had won 71 seats. The SP and the BSP who had been completely marginalized had together polled 41.8 percent votes. Now the two parties have come together along with Ajit Singh’s RLD that has historically a strong vote base in Western UP. Analyse a few seats and you will realize that things will be unusually tough for the BJP in the state. Despite the fact that the Congress party will eat into some minority votes of SP and BSP, it will also eat into upper caste votes of the BJP in much bigger way. The same scenario is going to be at work in Bihar. The BJP and the JDU alliance are going to face a resurgent opposition alliance that has given huge space to smaller parties, including those who have switched sides from NDA to the Mahagathbandhan. Upendra Kushwaha and Jitin Ram Manjhi are going to help the Mahagathbandhan in a big way in places where Dalits and most backward castes hold sway.
More columns by Syed Ubaidur Rahman:
Muslim vote as crucial as anyone else's in general election 2019