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HomeOpinionWhy Amit Shah and BJP’s Mission 350 for 2019 looks unreal

Why Amit Shah and BJP’s Mission 350 for 2019 looks unreal

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Going by the electoral map of each state, the BJP does not show signs of yet another grand victory in 2019.

The hype generated for the Ayushman Bharat project seems to have been eclipsed by the Rafale deal, which is a lead story across television channels as well as other media platforms.

Most Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, till a few days ago, were confidently saying that the Rafale deal will disappear from the media and people’s mind in less than a week. It is nearly a fortnight now since former French president Francois Hollande’s claims made headlines, and the issue refuses to die till date.

It was also said that in any case, it will not influence the voting choice. The Ayushman Bharat scheme directly helps nearly 50 crore people. Other schemes like minimum support price (MSP) to farmers, cooking gas subsidy, the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana housing programme and, of course, MGNREGA are aimed at the poor. Voters would vote for these great “welfare projects” and not on the “imaginary” allegations of corruption in the Rafale contract.

Also read: Amit Shah says BJP to rule for 50 years. Mohan Bhagwat is preparing the blueprint

The argument is also that the controversy over the defence contract to Anil Ambani’s firm is an urban middle class issue and is unlikely to impress rural India. This belief has been the cornerstone of the election campaign so far.

The ‘embedded’ media has bought this line and seems to be debating more about the efficacy of the Rafale jets and former French president’s serial love affairs! The Newshour pontiffs avoid debate on the alleged scam and the firm’s ‘efficacy’ in getting the contract.

Even the Maratha strongman and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader, Sharad Pawar, has given ‘clean chit’ and character certificate to Narendra Modi over the Rafale deal. But in typical ‘Pawarspeak’, he has also demanded that a Joint Parliamentary Committee probes it. If he wants a committee to inquire into the charges, then how can he conclude that Modi is innocent?

Pawar’s so-called verdict on the Rafale deal is clearly a landmine placed on the route of mahagatbandhan ahead of 2019 election. Another landmine has already exploded in Chhattisgarh, with Mayawati choosing to go with Ajit Jogi’s mini-regional party instead of the Congress. It appears that even Biju Janata Dal (BJD) chief Naveen Patnaik has shown no inclination towards a united opposition to Modi. Prakash Ambedkar’s Bharatiya Republican Party seems to have decided to go with Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and form a Dalit-Muslim front. The political market says all these are “masterstrokes” of BJP president Amit Shah to divide the opposition.

And yet, the BJP president is believed to be privately saying that he prefers to fight a united opposition. His argument, many say, is that the “one versus one” contest would give the BJP  over 50 per cent vote share because voters would choose stability and “decisive” leadership. Even Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar, who was giving fresh signals to the Congress, has stopped his overtures.

Also read: What suits Narendra Modi and Amit Shah better— Rahul Gandhi or a faceless mahagathbandhan?

Electoral mathematics

So if one looks at the electoral-political scene, it may appear quite dismal for the opposition in general and the Congress in particular. But if one starts looking at the electoral map in each state, then the BJP does not show signs of yet another grand victory.

The BJP peaked in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, winning 93 of the 120 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. From that peak, the journey can only be downhill. If the BJP loses even 30-40 seats in these two big states, how does it hope to compensate for that loss? It is unlikely that the BJP could repeat its 2014 performance in states like Rajasthan, Haryana, Gujarat or national capital Delhi. A loss of just 40 seats in these four states combined can take the cumulative loss to 80 seats.

There is hardly any scope for the BJP in the five southern states, except Karnataka where it has some presence. Nor is there much hope in West Bengal or Punjab. Therefore, just a loss of 80 seats in six states (UP, Bihar, Rajasthan, Delhi, Haryana and Gujarat) can bring the BJP’s tally of 282 seats in 2014 to just about 200. And, this does not take into account the likely losses in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and of course Jammu and Kashmir.

Then, with what kind of electoral mathematics and statistics are Amit Shah and his war room predicting 350 seats for the BJP? Interestingly, the BJP MPs and local leadership in the states do not seem to be displaying similar confidence. The RSS too is deeply sceptical of these overconfident figures. In fact, the buzz is that the Sangh Parivar is looking at options post 2019 elections.

In a scenario like this, it is distinctly possible for Modi to create a new NDA by splitting the remaining opposition parties or aligning with the stronger regional parties. The Shiv Sena has almost surrendered (as predicted in these columns a few months ago). The AIADMK seems to be heading for another split and Rajinikanth has not yet shown his cards.

Modi’s image on decline

Yet 2019 is going to be a different game altogether. In 2014, survey after survey showed that the voters passionately endorsed Modi, and not so much the BJP. In the coming election, it is Modi’s image which is on the decline without concomitant rise in the BJP’s image. One thing appears certain. The vote banks are getting splintered. Neither the Brahmins nor the upper castes across the country seem to be favouring the BJP, which they did resoundingly in 2014.

Also read: Data shows Modi-led BJP can’t bend too much to please upper caste vote base

Although the corporate class is not coming out with their reservations or even opposition to the Modi rule, there are talks that it is expressing apprehension and anxiety. The same is true for the vast trading community. They fear that if Modi-Shah comes back, the latter will take revenge. So, they are angry but do not want to change their traditional support to any other party – regional or national.

One can only say that election in each state will show a different pattern. As a result, the national Lok Sabha elections won’t be “national”, but a multi-regional exercise.

The political-electoral map of 2019 could look more like that of 1967. That election brought the split in the Congress in 1969, led to mid-term polls in several states in the years 1967-70, and an early election in 1971, thus permanently disturbing the five-year cycle of elections in states and at the Centre. Now ‘One Nation-One Election’ appears a political impossibility! That is the legacy of 1967.

Kumar Ketkar is a former editor and Congress member of Rajya Sabha.

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  1. Mr Modi has been “launching” so many schemes that his most ardent admirer would at best describe him as a “creative” well wisher of our people. (Not “realistic”). From 15 lakhs to Smart Cities to Clean Ganga etc etc, people have started taking Mr Modi’s words with a pinch of salt. There is a Hindi proverb to describe his schemes, “khayaali pulao”. A rough translation would be “imaginary pulao”. Modi ji is now increasingly being seen as the one who “only talks”, because to fructify these schemes would take planning and resources which to him are “chakravyuhs” that he knows not how to break.

    For its top leader to be NOT TAKEN SERIOUSLY is an ominous sign which does not at all portend well for the BJP. To make things worse for them, there is an uneasy and growing feeling among the people that Modi ji also tells lies at times to merely carry the day. The latest case in point being his statement during the inauguration of the Sikkim airport when he said, “India had 100 airports, and 35 of them were constructed during the last four years!” where, when, inaugurated by whom?!

    While “sabka vikaas” thus remains a question mark, “sabka saath” has unfolded like a horrible movie in REAL-TIME and therefore far more horrific than a nightmare. I am talking of Dalit thrashings, lynchings, and love jihad, ghar wapasi etc. In the background of all this, I fail to understand how Mr Ketkar can even talk of figures like 350 or 200 or whatever. From the vantage point of an ordinary citizen who belongs to no political party but for some reason believes that God does justice for, and on behalf of His children, I see a complete washout for the BJP.

    (There is a twist in the tale: PAPER should be used in all elections henceforth, either as paper ballot or paper receipts coming out of EVMs. Every EVM must be using a ROM chip which is pre-programmed. Ideally, when the button X is pressed, it should be programmed to increase the Counter X by one count. But if the ROM is faultily programmed or due to temperature etc starts malfunctioning, then when button X is pressed, it might increase the Counter Y by one count. Or it might do this “randomly”, which would make it all the more difficult to detect the fault. For example, after button X is pressed three times, it might advance the Counter Y by one count, etc etc. Best is to use the paper in some form, if only to satisfy the citizens. It is after all the citizenry that pays for the elections through Election Commission. Political parties use their money only for the campaigns of their candidates.)

  2. This pathetic and desperate attempt by a Congress stooge only shows his and his party’s frustration rather than BJP’s. He has all time in the world to explain why BJP may not get 350 but will hide his head like an ostrich when asked why his party won’t even get 100 seats. But what to expect from a leftist cabal sponsored media house whose only aim to defame and dethrone Mr. Modi by hook or by crook.

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