Every detail will count
The Lok Sabha elections are barely a month away and camps of all political outfits are buzzing. Amidst their carefully crafted strategies and populist manifestos lie the issues that will play a pivotal role in steering their ships to shore. The most-preferred choice in a public mandate is the one which understands the ground situation more than anything. The need of the hour is to understand the prevailing situation. While the incumbent bears the responsibility of addressing grievances, others are free to either suggest or criticise – latter being the case most of the times. In the democratic set-up constituted and passed down to the future generations, the concept of opposition was to sit with the government and contribute to the discussions over decisions to be made in the interest of people or nation as a whole. It was certainly not to create an ugly environment by dissenting to the point of humiliating the incumbent over their decision. Maybe that is why the heavily advocated concept of a majority government by BJP is crucial to their vision of India. As evident, the 16th Lok Sabha never had any troubles over decisions simply because of a staggering 282 seats that it had in the 2014 elections. Such a majority gave BJP the power it may not have speculated. The Modi wave reduced Congress to scrap – mere 44 seats in a historic low. Congress has since walked a long way in recovering from such a disaster to be able to once again become the reckoning force it was prior to the Modi wave. Led by yet another Gandhi, Congress' recent victory in the major states was the first glimpse of the grand old party's resurgence. But why was Congress able to sideline BJP in the three states of Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh? The answer to this question holds the key to understanding the upcoming elections.
The ever-dominant Modi wave is still there but BJP lost the three states to their bitter rivals purely on the ground issues. It seemed as if the saffron party's time at the helm made it accustomed to their wishes more than the public's. Demonetisation had already hurt the rural population immeasurably. Adding higher MSP's and poorly implemented farm schemes after a tumultuous outcry of the same did not exactly help. Farmers resort to suicides as the debts grew and grievances were seldom addressed. The compounding distress came back to haunt BJP in the most crucial hour – elections. Understanding this bit of an unaddressed issue transforming into a decisive factor in the public mandate is necessary to draw predictions about the upcoming polls. Though the aforementioned instance was just for the three states – which had agrarian distress as the predominant issue, it is a collective of issues across the verticles of society that will decide who gets to the helm. Each state has its own set of issues, adversities to be precise, that need to be resolved. These did not emerge overnight, they have come to the forefront based on neglect of the government. Take for instance Kerala's Sabarimala imbroglio or Northeast's agitation against the Citizenship Amendment Bill. Both the regions are embroiled in their respective controversies which, on several occasions, has brought the state to an uncomfortable halt. BJP and Congress have done little to resolve the adversities. In such a situation, regional parties have become the popular choice – making them a key factor in the national narrative. The third front or the federal front which will have to align towards either side to give the general mandate an outcome, should BJP fail to register majority, has become an essential feature of the polls. Of course, BJP is trying to avoid such a circumstance where its claim to the driving seat rests on other's allegiance while Congress acknowledges their presence and hopeful alliance as the only way to usurp BJP. While half the country suffers from agrarian distress, there are several other state-specific issues such as militancy in J&K, drug abuse in Punjab, unemployment in UP, Jat reservation/agitation in Haryana, et al. Now, while the populist manifestos will certainly highlight these and influence public mandate through sops of all sorts, the voters' dilemma exists nevertheless since deep down none will cater to the troubles with the eye of resolving them in entirety. If you solve the problem then there is no problem to build your promises on. In such a case, the next best thing is to vote the one with fewer lies or the one who understands the regional issues more. In this context, the narrative of polls might meander depending on the regional powerplay!