A is for ‘Achche Din’, which may have just returned for farmers and the middle-class, following the feel-good ‘interim’ budget on 1 February.
A is for BJP’s ‘Abki baar phir Modi sarkar’ slogan, to which the Congress could quite truthfully reply ‘Abki baar parivar’, after Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s official entry into the political fray as party general secretary.
A is also for the AgustaWestland chopper, which the BJP hopes will ground the Gandhis on corruption charges.
A as in ‘anti-nationals’ — everyone from the Congress to actors Naseeruddin Shah, Aamir Khan and the stone-pelters in Kashmir who criticise the government on Kashmir, question the surgical strikes or articulate their discomfort as Muslims.
A is for Amit Shah, the BJP president, whose travels through the country for political mileage are unmatched by any other leader: 1 lakh kilometres in five months last year.
A is also for Akhilesh Yadav, the Samajwadi Party chief, the other half of the UP gathbandhan seeking to dethrone Modi, Shah and Yogi Adityanath.
B is, of course, for BJP, but it’s also for the party’s strongest challengers, ‘Bua-Bhatija’ and ‘Bhai-Behen’. In Uttar Pradesh, the coming together of Mayawati’s BSP and Akhilesh’s SP, and the Congress’ Gandhi siblings, Rahul and Priyanka, are giving the BJP and PM Modi “sleepless nights” — at least that’s what Rahul says.
B is also for Brahmastra — the divine weapon from the Mahabharat, used by politicians and the media to describe political gambles that will destroy opponents. The Modi government’s budget was a ‘brahmastra’, as was Rahul’s Minimum Income Guarantee to India’s poor.
C is for the Congress and the Constitution, but above all, it’s for corruption — refer AgustaWestland and Rafale (see ‘R’). It’s a major poll plank for both the BJP and the Congress, related especially to defence deals.
C is also for the CBI, the ‘brahmastra’ in Modi’s armoury against corrupt politicians.
C as in ‘chowkidar’, the way Modi describes himself in his speeches, and ‘chowkidar chor hai’, the way Rahul describes Modi in his.
C is for the cow, or ‘gau mata’, who has just received help in the budget with the Kamdhenu Yojana, which will ensure their productivity increases. Don’t ask how.
C is also for ‘chai wala’ and ‘chhappan inch ki chhaati’ (56-inch chest) — leftover references from the 2014 campaign, used periodically even now.
D is for demonetisation, which hit the Indian economy, and is now biting at the BJP government’s heels.
D is for Dalits — the BSP gave them a voice, the BJP won them over in 2014, but lost favour with them in the three assembly elections in the Hindi heartland in 2018. Dalits represent over 16 per cent of India’s population, and will help decide who occupies the PM’s chair in May.
Above all, D is for Didi or Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, who riveted the nation with a 72-hour protest in Kolkata and declared all-out war against the Modi government. She’s also a prime ministerial candidate — if Rahul, Mayawati and other opposition leaders are willing.
E is for the Election Commission, which will soon announce election dates, but more importantly, it’s for EVMs (electronic voting machines) which are hacked and tampered with in the opposition’s imagination every time it loses an election. When the Congress and allies win, it becomes an ‘excellent voting machine’.
F is for farmers, whose distress is now felt and addressed by the BJP and Congress alike, with cash transfers and income guarantees.
G is for the Gandhis, who else? Also gau-mata (see ‘C’).
G is also for the GDP or gross domestic product, mired in controversy, either because this government revises figures to improve its growth rate, or reduces those from the UPA era.
H is for Hindu and Hindutva: Not all Hindus support the Hindutva agenda of the BJP and RSS, but Hindus are the vote bank both the BJP and Congress need to win over for victory in the 2019 elections.
H is also for the Hindi heartland, where the battle will be won and lost. The BJP lost the Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan assemblies last December.
I is for income tax cuts in Finance Minister Piyush Goyal’s first budget, which will gladden the hearts of the middle class.
I is also for the INX Media-Aircel controversy, which the BJP government hopes will help nail Congress leader P. Chidambaram for corruption.
J is for ‘jumla’, which is how the opposition describes every move the BJP makes, from demonetisation to Ayodhya.
J is also for ‘josh’, the latest clarion call of the BJP, lifted from the film Uri. It replaces ‘Jai Hind’.
J as in jobs — where are they? NSSO data reports unemployment at its highest level in 45 years, at 6.1 per cent.
K is for Kashmir, as in Jammu & Kashmir under President’s Rule. All parties ignore it — until there is a militant attack.
K as in Kanhaiya Kumar and others, who feature in a Delhi Police chargesheet for sedition following an event at JNU in 2016 where they allegedly shouted anti-India, pro-Pakistan ‘azaadi’ slogans.
L is for Lutyens Delhi, which Modi distanced himself from in his January interview to ANI. Modi drew a distinction between himself and the denizens of Delhi’s power hub, whom he has not been able to win over or become a part of. TV journalist Arnab Goswami identifies Lutyens as the seat of the Congress-liberal Left.
L is also for loan waivers: The Congress’ gambit to win elections in the three Hindi heartland states of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. BJP chief ministers have done it too in Maharashtra and UP.
M is for Modi, of course, but it’s also for ‘mahagathbandhan’, the grand alliance that is still trying to tie the knot to stop Modi from returning for a second term.
M is also for ‘mazboot’ NDA or ‘majboor’ (UPA) sarkars, the choice Modi and Shah say the electorate has to make.
M as in mandir politics, which now seem to be on the back burner, as the VHP and the RSS have retreated from demands for the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya before the Lok Sabha elections.
M is also for Michel, as in Christian Michel, the Agusta-Westland middleman in the CBI’s custody. If only he would ‘spill the beans’ on links with Sonia Gandhi in the deal, the BJP would award him the Bharat Ratna.
N is for ‘Narendra Modi ji’, as Rahul Gandhi repeatedly calls him.
Also for ‘kaamdaar versus naamdaar’, a la Modi’s jibe at Rahul Gandhi’s dynasty.
And don’t forget NOTA, the option voters have to not vote.
And then there’s ‘neta’ — every politician wants to be treated like one.
O is for the opposition, the maha-milavat, as Modi called it, struggling under the weight of its own contradictions: How do the BSP-SP join the Congress at the national level when they can’t ally in UP?
O is also for ‘OROP’ or ‘only Rahul, only Priyanka’, in Amit Shah’s words, and the ‘ODOMOS’ reply National Conference chief Omar Abdullah delivered, meaning ‘overdose of only Modi, only Shah’.
P is for Pradhan Mantri and the multiple yojanas started in the name of the prime minister since Modi took the chair. These number anywhere between 26-30, the latest being the direct cash transfer scheme to farmers called Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi.
P is also as for ‘parivar’, as in ‘parivar party hai, a taunt Modi and Shah use frequently against the Congress. Then there’s the Sangh parivar…
P also for Priyanka Gandhi, the latest member of that parivar, who has been given charge of plotting the BJP’s downfall in eastern UP.
Q is for the question that will be answered in May: Kaun banega Pradhan Mantri?
R is for Rafale and Rahul Gandhi, inextricably linked as the Congress president uses the issue to counter Modi’s corruption charges against his family and party.
S is for ‘surgical strikes’, celebrated in the film Uri, and worn by Modi as a badge of courage, honour and muscularity.
T is for the ‘tukde tukde’ gang — Kanhaiya Kumar and co (see ‘K’).
Also for the ‘Thugs of Hindostan’, not the film, but absconding middlemen, and businessmen like Vijay Mallya and Mehul Choksi — Modi is trying to have them extradited to India.
U is for Urban Naxals — academics and civil activists who are allegedly trying to undermine India by combining with Naxals to overthrow the state: Sudha Bharadwaj, Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha have been arrested for such alleged plots.
U as in unemployment, perhaps the biggest poll plank for the opposition against the BJP.
Also Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in the country, which will decide who rules in Delhi.
U is also for universal basic income, the other name for Rahul Gandhi’s idea of a minimum income guarantee to win him votes. Bad economics, though.
V is for vote bank politics that the BJP and Congress are playing, and will play harder as elections near. Examples include Modi’s ‘vote bonanza budget’ and Rahul Gandhi’s income guarantee.
W is for the winner who takes it all in a first-past-the-post parliamentary system like ours.
X is the x-factor that can swing the polls this way or that.
Y is for the youth or ‘yuva’ hit by the high unemployment, but also the millennials — up to 10 crore of whom will vote for the first time and could be the x-factor mentioned above.
Y is also for Yogi Adityanath, the UP CM who plays second fiddle to only Modi and Shah in the BJP’s electoral campaigns. He has a battle on his hands in UP, though.
Z is for zero tax — After the ‘interim’ budget of 1 February, those who earn up to Rs 5 lakh per annum, don’t need to pay any taxes.
Z is also for ‘Zindabad! Zindabad!’ — to whoever wins the Lok Sabha polls.
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