Millennium Post

Can BJP ride the anti-UPA tide?

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) prime ministerial candidate may not be a scholar of history but he must have learnt history in school. Even a primary level student knows that ‘brave biharis’ did not defeat Alexander the great on the banks of the Ganga. He was turned back from Punjab.

Also it is a blatant lie to say that Nehru did not attend Sardar Patel’s funeral. The fact is that Nehru, along with Rajendra Prasad, attended the funeral in Bombay on 15 December 1950. Also one does not know why he shifted location of Taxila University, also known as Takshashila, from Pakistan to Bihar. For Modi’s information, Taxila literally meaning ‘City of Cut Stone’, is a town and an important archaeological site in Rawalpindi district of the Punjab province in Pakistan. Taxila is situated about 32 km north-west of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Modi says people will get free electricity once Narmada dam is built but forgets to say that people would have to pay for the power they consume. This may be a minor faux pas but nevertheless it is misleading. His claim that India grew at 8.4 per cent during the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) rule is again a wrong statement. The reality is that India grew at less than six per cent during the NDA rule. Also Modi’s statement that Gujarat attracts highest flow of FDI inflow in the country is again misleading. The fact is that Gujarat received $7.2 billion FDI between 2000-2011; Maharashtra received $45.8 billion, Delhi $26 billion during the same period. Modi claims China spends 20 per cent of its GDP on education but the fact is that China spends only 3.39 per cent on education, NDA spent 1.6 per cent and UPA 4.04. BJP’s prime ministerial candidate recently told a gathering of teachers and students of Ferguson College, Pune, that the first mention of university convention was in Taittirya Upanishad. He cited this as an evidence of the Hindu religion being the original source of all knowledge and creators of educational institutions, which the world was to adopt later. He told the students that of the 2,600 years of the university education in the world, ‘1,800 years were centrally led by us.’ First of all, there were no universities in the Vedic or Upanishadic period. Secondly, the universities we are so proud of – Nalanda, Taxila, Vikramshile, Odanpuri and Vallabhi (in Gujarat) – were not universities in the sense of universities that developed in medieval Europe such as Oxford, but were centres of high learning. Thirdly, they did not exist for 1,800 years, but each for a few hundred years. Most of them, including Vallabhi were centres of Buddhist religious learning and not of secular education of arts and sciences. Presuming Modi becomes the prime minister and commits faux pas of this magnitude, he will become an object of ridicule nationally and internationally. He will do well to brush up his knowledge of history and geography too. Modi’s lack of knowledge about history apart, the pre-poll surveys have been causing concern in Congress circles and they doubt opinion polls credibility. True, no survey can be perfect but they often present lop-sided picture of poll scenario. Let’s see how pollsters work; a team visits select constituencies say 20, 30 or even 50, talk to a cross section of the people and make a projection which often proves to be wide of the mark. What the people think in 50 constituencies may be at variance with what voters think in other 100 constituencies. Also voters have now become clever, they rarely reveal their mind; more so, when they know what they are talking will be published. As a result, poll projections often prove to be misleading. According to front rank opposition leader, Sharad Yadav, ‘opinion polls are a mockery… I may point out that money plays a major role in surveys in the name of opinion poll’. Yadav’s assessment is literally true.

Let us see what latest opinion poll conducted by a national magazine - ORG has to say: the BJP is coming to power in Rajasthan, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The details of the opinion poll suggest that December’s verdict will have less to do with Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi than the successes and failures of ruling chief ministers. According to the survey Madhya Pradesh’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan is all set to become the BJP’s model regional leader with a massive mandate in his third term at the helm. Despite neck-and-neck race in Rajasthan’s poll campaign, the survey finds Vasundhara Raje likely to snatch her throne from Ashok Gehlot.

Initial reports had, however, indicated that the BJP is all set to oust the Congress under the leadership of Vasundhara Raje but later reports disclosed that Ashok Gehlot has recovered much of the lost ground. Few popular schemes quietly launched by him have started yielding results. Still nobody can predict the exact situation in the run up to election. There is, no doubt, that Gehlot government suffers from anti-incumbency factor. Few know that Ashok Gehlot is a magician, a skill which he inherited from his ancestors. His rivals feel that he may whip out some magical trick to mesmerise the people to vote for the Congress. In Madhya Pradesh, ground realties present another picture. In MP the situation has undergone a change even before opinion polls. The divided Congress has united under the leadership of Jyotiraditya Scindia and now poses a challenge to the BJP. Let us see if he can oust firmly entrenched Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Despite all the claims made by Chouhan of a clean leader, his rule has not been corruption free. His plus point is that the Congress is still ill-prepared to face the BJP challenge. It will, however, not be an easy sail for Chouhan. In Delhi it will not be so easy to oust firmly entrenched Sheila Dikshit. Judging by the good work Dikshit has done, it will not be a surprise if she wins for the fourth time. It is no exaggeration to say that she has changed the face of Delhi. Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party is another important factor which the survey has conveniently  forgotten. He may take away votes of both the Congress and the BJP.

With the entire Congress leadership in Chhattisgarh, having been wiped in a Naxal attack, the BJP does not face a worthwhile challenge and chief minister Raman Singh, may romp home

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