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Narendra Modi losing 2019 is now a real possibility

It’s the economy, stupid.

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This article was originally published on 19 December, 2018.

Election results in three states have now made it a real possibility that Narendra Modi may not be India’s Prime Minister after another six months. That does not mean the game is over, just that the game has finally become interesting.

Secular decline

While the BJP has been resting pretty over its brahmastra, Brand Modi, there has been an unmistakable trend of decline in its electoral fortunes since last December.

The BJP came very close to losing Gujarat, the home turf of the Prime Minister. Hailed as a great challenger, Amit Shah could not deliver a clear majority for the BJP in Karnataka. (He could not even prevent a Congress-JD(S) alliance government in the state despite having a friendly governor who tried to help.) The BJP has lost one Lok Sabha bypoll after another, critically in its strongholds such as Gorakhpur, Ajmer and Bellary. Now if you see the election results in the three states as part of this trend, there is a larger picture.

We are constantly told to see all these elections as local contests. They are not a referendum on Narendra Modi unless the BJP wins. Some decline in vote share from the 2014 Modi wave is understandable. Even Uttar Pradesh, which the BJP swept with a 2/3rd majority in 2017, saw some decline in vote share from 2014. With some exceptions like Delhi 2015, the decline was modest. This is not true for Rajasthan, where the party has lost 16 percentage points since 2014, or for Madhya Pradesh, where it has shed 13 percentage points, or Chhattisgarh, where it lost nearly 16 percentage points.

Perhaps there’s something here that surveys and reporters alike are missing. Perhaps there’s a broader disenchantment, even if it is articulated against the local party MLAs or the state chief minister.

Also read: 6 reasons why 2019 is still Narendra Modi’s to lose

‘Modi is good, but…’

Yes it’s true that voters in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan said they were not voting for the central government, and that they were voting against local anti-incumbency. Election tourists such as yours truly met voters who were voting the Congress to defeat the local MLA, but said they planned to vote for “Modi” in 2019.

However, note this: people voted out Shivraj Singh Chouhan despite liking him. It is, therefore, possible that people may keep saying that they like Modi, but may still vote him out. The same happened in Uttar Pradesh too, where people said they liked Akhilesh Yadav but not his party. ‘Akhilesh is good, but…’ or ‘Shivraj is good, but…’ is the refrain that one hears in such cases. The same could happen to Modi, too. Already, Modi is down from ‘great’ to ‘ok’.

Modi’s spin doctors have often claimed his rallies make the BJP win. In seats where Modi addressed his rallies in Uttar Pradesh, we were told they caused a four per cent swing. But in these state elections, the BJP lost 70 per cent of the seats where Modi campaigned.

Also read: The defining difference between Narendra Modi & Rahul Gandhi that nobody has spoken about

Same old story

The defeat of a popular Shivraj Singh Chouhan holds another lesson for Narendra Modi. People complained of ‘fatigue’ with Shivraj. They were simply bored of him. The same speeches, the same lines, the same tropes. People wanted to see a new movie.

Succeeding in politics needs good storytelling, and Modi has been a mesmerising storyteller in the past. For a year now, Modi has been a bore. Hindutva isn’t making up for it.

Modi doesn’t have much to say other than attacking the Congress. A week after losing three states, he’s still continuing with that line of argument. He’s still saying There Is No Alternative to him, but the three states have shown TINA could develop into ITNA, to borrow journalist Sankarshan Thakur’s coinage: Is There No Alternative?

It’s the economy, stupid

2019 is still Narendra Modi’s to lose, and lose he could due to hard economic facts.

No matter how much people like Narendra Modi, his oratory and his strongman image, no matter how much they fall for his WhatsApp propaganda, if they feel a pinch in their pocket, they may desert Modi. The process would no doubt be helped by the rising index of opposition unity, with political parties across spectrum trying to put up a united fight against the BJP in every constituency.

From demonetisation to GST to a neglected banking crisis, the economy under Narendra Modi has felt a liquidity crunch. When cash doesn’t flow, and bank credit slows down, and farm produce earns a pittance, how could Modi win? Toilets and gas cylinders and housing are fine, but they appear to be poor compensation when incomes stagnate and unemployment is so bad that the government stops publishing unemployment data.

The possibility may seem unthinkable to many. Modi champions like to think that the BJP will still return with 250 seats or so. Modi critics are now hovering at the Khan Market Consensus of Below 200. But politics is not statistics. If someone told you a week ago that the TRS was going to cross 88 seats in Telangana, or the Congress was going to win 68 seats in Chhattisgarh, you would have scoffed at them.

The Congress won 44 seats in the Lok Sabha elections in 2014, and stood second in another 224 | Map visualisation by the Trivedi Centre for Political Data.

If the BJP goes down, the Congress will naturally go up. In 2014, there were 224 seats in which the Congress stood second. UPA-1 was formed with the Congress having just 145 seats. The 11 December results have put the Congress back in a 2004-like game.

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  1. I have just one request to the author that he be man enough to admit that he was wrong after the 2019 election results are out and the Print bring out a list out all the articles that predicted Modi would lose 2019 and accept that they were dead wrong ,I think that would actually raise your credibility which is right now frankly speaking not much you are considered a foreign funded media outlet peddling anti India ,anti Hindu stuff in the garb of secularism ,tolerance and human rights,but people are not fools,Just think about it

  2. The analysis depicts the ground reality. Anil Ambani’s brankruptcy has added fuel to Modi decreasing popularity common man is now thinking why Rafale was not given to HAL and given a group which is bankrupt. People think only Gujarati businessman can survive in India dominated by Amit Shah and Modi. Poor UP which has elected PM too has not got anything for their trust. AP got a raw deal and Modi is thinking twice in visiting AP where people are up against PM for going back on his promise for a special status under the foot hills of Lord Venkateswara of Tirupati. Even Lord Rama got a raw deal no temple for him in Ayodhya even after getting 2/3 majority in Loksabha and UP Assembly.

  3. asusual half cooked article….why theprint cant write artciles with deep analysis like outlook/indiatoday…total waste of time

  4. The same analyst wrote a few months back that Modi will win because of Rahul Gandhi. So what is the self life of your prediction and analysis.

  5. Truly this is a biased view and who do the voter consider as the alternative leader to become PM of this country ? Rahul, Mamta, Mayavathi, Chandrababu Naidu, or Kumara swamy ? Won’t people judge before voting ?

  6. I will call you up after the elections…. Though I don’t have your number. But why would I want to call a presstitute….. Whoever coined that word knew exactly what he was saying.

  7. Prof PK Sharma,Freelance Journalist,Barnala(Punjab)

    I do see eye to eye with Mr. Shivam Vij’s view- Narendra Modi losing 2019 !

    There are a couple of solid and apparent reasons for this !

    First and foremost is that NaMo does not need any enemy because he is his own worst enemy !

    Then second most important factor is that BJP, RSS and Its Other Sister Organisations also are
    not acting as NaMo’s well-wishers ! Quite evidently, it appears either these are at their wits end
    to inspire NaMo for the course correction or these intend to allow NaMo to fall in the ditch by not
    resisting his wrong doings and anti-public decisions in the best national interests !

    The third one is that the duo of NaMo-Amit Shah still lives in fools paradise that they are invincible
    and will succeed this time(2019) too in befooling the citizens of India on the basis of fictitious, tall and
    utopian promises !

    Both are infact forgetting 2014 was 2014 and 2019 will be 2019 ! A hell of difference between the two !

    Prof PK Sharma, Freelance Journalist
    Pom Anm Nest,Barnala (Punjab)

  8. PM MODIJI leading the NDA government made some ‘hard choices’ to ‘ensure India’s bright future is all but certain’, not ‘cheating & taking the dis honest path’, did cost them ‘defeats at the local level’ – a self inflicted wound’ at best. The CON ‘Regress’ did not suddenly gain strength over night to win, it was ‘easy pickings’.
    At the ‘National level’ come ‘Elections 2019’ it’s a different ‘ball game’ – a ‘T20’ cricket match – with ‘no prisoners to be taken’ & there is ‘no competition’ worth it’s salt to worry about because the resources at the command of the ‘BJP’ are both daunting & overwhelming to ensure an ‘positive outcome for the NDA’. This is the reality.
    ‘JAI HIND’

  9. The print will not print for sure as we boycott such tabloid which spreads negative articles. #ModiForever

  10. He has taken the nation to the lowest, has no talents only ego and one sided view, how will he continue? A PM by shear luck.

  11. It is always about the economy, wise one. With more than 80% Indians subsisting on less than $ 5 a day, it could not possibly be anything else. The media has been behind the curve while assessing electoral outcomes. How come no one saw the wave in Chhatisgarh …

  12. what a crooked assessment. bjp vote share against the rest combined..

    biased news. people understand that the country needs a leader and not a bunch of goons who only want to make money for themselves by grouping together..

    • Yes. The country needs a leader. But where is that person? All I can see is one and a half big goons on one side and a bunch of little goons on the other.

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