No room for error: BJP-RSS say they have no plan B
The fallibility of exit polls notwithstanding, the BJP and the RSS seem to have taken the prediction of a simple majority for the National Democratic Alliance for granted and are tight lipped — at least in public — about any possible post-poll strategy including a reconsideration on the prime ministerial candidate if it falls short of the magic figure.
‘We don’t have any plan B or plan C... We are confident that the NDA will cross the 300-mark,’ BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said when it was put to him that at least one of the big surveys — by Times NOW-ORG — has ruled out the Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition touching even the half-way mark of 272 when counting for the 2014 general election takes place 16 May.
He dismissed speculations that the increased meetings between top BJP leaders and the RSS brass had anything to do with the arithmetic of new alliances in the 16th Parliament.
‘The BJP-RSS meeting was not for chalking out future strategy, as results will be in our favour. RSS workers were involved at the grassroots, so we went to meet them,’ Prasad asserted, overlooking the fact that exit polls have often over-estimated in favour of the BJP, most notoriously in 2004, when exit polls predicted an NDA sweep even as the then Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led coalition performed its worst in several years.
Some experts believe that BJP may in private be uncertain of a clear 272 for the NDA, but it is evading the possibility since any talk on assembling new allies — the Bahujan Samaj Party or the Trinamool Congress — would mean an inescapable debate on replacing the prime ministerial candidate.
While BSP supremo Mayawati has ruled out the possibility of supporting them with Narendra Modi at the helm, TMC chief Mamata Banerjee was involved in a bitter verbal spat with the Gujarat chief minister in her recent public addresses.
A senior BJP leader even suspected the motive behind such questions.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the ideological fountainhead of the BJP, too has been evading this question.
‘Which exit poll is showing we will not get the numbers,’ asked RSS spokesperson Ram Madhav in reply to a question on whether the BJP-RSS meetings involved any discussion on an alternative leadership to placate likely king-makers if the NDA performed less emphatically than exit polls suggested.