Will they turn the tide this election?

Mar 23, 2014, 04:07 IST | Paromita Vohra

IS the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi riding a wave in the ongoing election campaign for the 16th Lok Sabha? Or is this entire hullabaloo just media hype, orchestrated or otherwise?

In the first few general elections beginning with 1952, there was not any worthwhile opposition and the Congress used to secure a comfortable majority. Jawaharlal Nehru then strode like a Colossus over the Indian political landscape with much charisma and unquestioned leadership. Thereafter, in 1971 Indira Gandhi won a resounding victory. However, she was on the receiving end of the popular wrath in the subsequent elections that were held in 1977 in the wake of the much dreaded Emergency. The Janata Party had secured 298 seats with 43 per cent votes.

The tables were again turned in 1980 when Indira Gandhi won a landslide victory over the Janata Party. But the elections that were held after her assassination on October 31, 1984, produced one of the most one-sided results in the annals of India’s parliamentary history. Rajiv Gandhi swept away every bit of opposition.

Now, there have been opinion polls galore and there is unanimity of sorts that this election will see the worst ever performance by the Congress. Undoubtedly, Modi has captured the imagination of a large number of people but whether all those will eventually vote for BJP is another matter.

Nitish, a major loser in Bihar
In a strange twist to the Bihar tale, Nitish Kumar’s JDU will be a major loser and BJP a big gainer winning 23 of the 40 seats together with its alliance partner LJP. Congress and Lalu Yadav’s RJD are likely to win 11 seats while JDU will have to remain content with only five. BJP is also expected to win 24 of the 29 seats in Madhya Pradesh. In Gujarat too, BJP will win hands down.

In Maharashtra, the Congress-NCP alliance will be losing its dominance in the state. The survey predicts BJP and Shiv Sena to win 33 of the 48 seats. Congress and NCP will have to remain content with just about 12, a loss of 13 seats from its domineering position in 2009.

Silver lining in Punjab for Congress
In this overall scenario of dark clouds, there is, however, a silver lining for Congress in the border state of Punjab where the Akali-BJP alliance is the ruling party. The opinion polls give Congress eight of the 13 seats there, leaving the alliance partners to share the remaining five.

It is Delhi however, that is bucking the trend. Here the Aam Admi Party (AAP) is likely to hold its sway by winning four of the seven seats. The survey gives BJP two and Congress a lone seat. Incidentally, the opinion poll is not very kind to AAP and does not give it much of a chance in these elections except in Delhi. The new party headed by a maverick of sorts in Arvind Kejriwal is capable of springing surprises.

These are still early days. As in cricket, where a match is not won or lost until the last ball is bowled, in elections too, much can happen over the coming weeks. Should Congress happen to win a dozen or more seats over and above the predicted number, it could easily become a counterpoise for anti-BJP forces that are certainly in significant numbers.

Much will also depend on the stand that the three deviyan of the Indian politics namely Jayalalithaa, Mamata and Mayawati, would take post-the-results. They are likely to do very well in their respective states and together are expected to win around 75 seats.

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