Millennium Post

India sounds the poll bugle

The battle of ballots for the general elections is out in the open. Both, national and regional political parties have started laying their pawn on the chessboard. It’s only the principal opposition party BJP that has announced its prime ministerial candidate before the Lok Sabha elections. But no other political party or Front has declared their candidate. The ruling Congress-led coalition is felling marginalised because of anti-incumbency factor prevailing across the country, while the BJP is considering reaping the anti-incumbency factor in their favour. With BJP’s PM candidate and Gujarat CM Narendra Modi making aggressive speeches at political rallies, it is clear that he will be crowned as the PM of the country after the Lok Sabha polls. But, the most vital question is that whether the BJP will manage to get the magical figure of 272, knowing for a fact that their presence is
limited to a few states only.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, it seems clear that the environment is very hostile for the Congress party across the country. But no clear majority can be sensed in favour of any party either. No regional party can be adjudged as minuscule and so the fact is that next Lok Sabha is going to be a triangular contest which will be followed by negotiations and post-poll alliances. The foundation of the new coalition will be communalism versus secularism. It seems that BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi would not be able to pass this litmus test.

Indeed, when reviewing election of 2014, it’s necessary to put an eye on the country’s political scenario. In the recently concluded assembly elections in five states, the BJP managed an enormous success as they came to power again in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh for the third time, overthrew the ruling Congress in Rajasthan. But BJP could not succeed in Delhi. It was clear that no party was in contest with BJP in these three states. So the Central government’s anti-people policies like inflation helped the BJP to make them understand that Congress government might worsen the situation. So the common man wanted to keep Congress away this time and indirectly BJP gained.

Though, there is a clear battle between the BJP and the Congress in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand and these six states have hundred Lok Sabha seats. These two political giants are not in direct contest with each other in rest of the country. At the moment it can be said that both will have to mobilise the voters in their favour.

Modi is primarily focusing on 80 parliamentary seats of Uttar Pradesh and 40 seats in Bihar. He is trying to sail through the Lok Sabha polls by playing his Hindutva and cast-based card. He is calling for unity of Dalits and minorities in favour of BJP in theses two states by pitching himself as from the backward community. By bringing UP’s Dalit leader Udit Raj into party fold and by forging alliance with Ramvilas Paswan-led Lok Janshakti Party in Bihar, it is clear that he is trying his best to woo Dalits. Interestingly, Modi, the champion of Hindutva and caste-based politics, is accusing Mulayam Singh Yadav, Nitish Kumar and Mayawati of practicing politics of casteism.

In the state of places like Ayodhya, Mathura and Kashi (Varanasi), the BJP was restricted to just 10 seats in the last general elections. This time too, the possibilities are bleak that backwards as well as Dalits would vote in favour of BJP in the state which is known for caste-based politics. The ruling Samajwadi Party and the main opposition party (BSP) are successfully managing their caste votes intact. And the same situation is in Bihar. BJP has contested 2009 Lok Sabha elections in Bihar in alliance with JD(U). But this time JD (U) is not with them and both the parties are struggling to save their faces. Ramvilas Paswan, who has joined hands with BJP, is giving surety of becoming a ‘true friend in need, indeed’, despite the fact remains there that he could not save his own seat in general elections. Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, after being separated from the political equation, is exploring possibilities with OBC, minority and Mahadalit votes. So it is crystal clear that caste-based politics will be reaching new heights and appeasement will be on every mouth.

Amid all this, AAP will play an important role all across the country as the party has already announced that they will field candidates in all territories. The young and the middle-class who feels connected to Kejriwal’s party, will be a clear loss to BJP. That is why the BJP is leaving no stone unturned in wooing voters through all means. Though the Rajnath-led party is putting a lots of effort in creating a ground in the South but they cannot be named as main contender for Tamil Nadu’s 39 seats where Karunanidhi-led DMK and Jayalalithaa-led AIDMK have clear leads. While in Kerala, 20 seats will witness clash between Congress and the Left and in Andhra Pradesh (42 seats), last time winner Congress is struggling for survival now. The bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh is going to help regional parties only rather that national party. Reportedly, BJP is trying hard to bring YSR Congress and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) into its party fold.

It’s a fact that Congress has its vote bank in the southern part of the country, but this time the oldest party of the country will not be benefited much. It’s also not clear that after the 2014 general elections, the regional parties of the South will join which political camp.

In Odisha, the BJP is struggling hard to make its base strong after split of alliance with Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in the state. In present scenario, the direct fight is between Congress and BJP in the Naveen Patnaik-ruled state. The strong anti-incumbency factor against Congress will likely to benefit BJD in state in the Lok Sabha polls. During the last general elections, the BJP failed to open its account in the state, where there are 21 parliament seats. But BJD had won 14, Congress had won 6 and one seat was won by CPI.

Even though BJP has planned an aggressive strategy to contest Lok Sabha polls in West Bengal, there is no influence of the party on the 42 parliamentary seats in the Mamata Banerjee-ruled state. But, if  BJP manages to encash Modi wave in West Bengal will be clear only after the polls. In the last LS poll, party’s senior leader Jaswant Singh had won the Darjeeling seat. Presently, it is considered that the battle of ballot in the state will be witnessed between TMC and Left Front only.

In Maharashtra, Punjab and Haryana, BJP is contesting the poll in alliance with its old allies and at the same the party is trying its political luck in the Northeastern states. The BJP has no base in the northeastern states. In Karnataka, BJP has tried to make it strong by bringing back former CM BS Yeddyurappa. The party had achieved huge success in the Karnataka during the last general elections, but this time the chances are bleak.
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