Millennium Post

Will Modi have national impact?

One wonders if anointment of Narendra Modi as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate will have any impact on coming election to five assemblies? Another question posed is whether there is a ‘Modi wave,’ which may help the BJP to sweep the poll in four Hindi speaking states? And, will this wave turn into a hurricane in the run up to May 2014 Lok Sabha election? Impartial poll observers say that Modi wave is felt in Rajasthan, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. But will this be converted into votes? This is the question haunting both Congress and BJP leaders. There is a direct fight between the Congress and the BJP in these states – two of which are ruled by the Congress and two by the BJP. Local issues and performance of state governments will determine the poll outcome notwithstanding the massive turn out at Modi’s rallies, his mammoth public meeting at Rewari is an example.

In a precursor to general elections, the upcoming polls in Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram will be an indicator of future trends. The election is Delhi is going to be big test for the Congress. Inflation, corruption, law and order are some of the bigger issues. In the last assembly poll, the Congress bagged 42, the BJP 24, BSP 2 and independents 7. In the Lok Sabha election, the Congress swept having won all seven seats and the BJP got a duck Will Congress repeat its performance?

In Rajasthan, the public perception is that governance has been poor. The administration has been found to be wanting in taking quick decisions, especially when it comes to taming rising prices and rising crimes against women. In the last assembly election, the Congress got 96, the BJP 78, BSP 6 and independents 20. In the Lok Sabha poll, the Congress secured 20, BJP 4 and independent.
In Madhya Pradesh, after appointment of Jyotiraditya Scindia as the state Congress election campaign committee chairman, the Congress looks united and capable of posing an effective challenge to the BJP, a matter of concern for the ruling BJP. In the last assembly poll, the BJP swept having bagged 143, the Congress got 71, BSP 7 and independents 9. In the Lok Sabha elections the BJP got 16, the Congress 12 and BSP 1. Chhattisgarh has seen bi-polar politics with the main contest being between BJP and Congress. The Maoist problem has spread to more districts under Raman Singh, but he scores in making the state’s PDS system efficient. In the last assembly election the BJP secured 50 seats, the Congress 38 and the BSP two. In the Lok Sabha poll the BJP swept have got 10 and the Congress only one. In Mizoram, the Congress is betting heavily on the state’s New Land Use Policy, which focuses on inclusive growth. Rivals Mizoram People’s Conference has also promised to take it forward. In the last assembly election, the Congress got 32, MNF 3, MPC 2 and others three. In the Lok Sabha election, Congress retained the lone seat.

The BJP Chief Ministers in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are popular and well-entrenched. In Rajasthan, Vasundhara Raje, has managed to contain internal squabbles. The entry of Modi as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate has added a new dimension. Will his popularity in these enable the BJP to garner votes? This is the question being asked by both the BJP and the Congress. There is, however, no doubt that anointment of Modi as Prime Minister candidate has been welcomed by RSS and BJP cadres and they have solidly fallen behind him. This will be a big asset to the BJP in coming assembly elections. So far as Uttar Pradesh is concerned, the UP leaders, particularly the ruling Sawajwadi party leaders, say that Modi will have no impact on the most populous state of the union. It will be highly erroneous to believe that projection of Modi will lead to polarization of the voters on communal lines.

UP BJP leader, Amit Puri, feels that debut of Modi on national scene has started an era of ‘non-Congressism and anti BJPism’. Now it is an era of anti-Modi and pro-Modi and both the camps are within the BJP. Those with Modi are obviously his supporters and those against him are with L K Advani. Somnath ka sandesh, Gujarat naheen ab pura desh  (Modi is no longer leader of Gujarat, he is now a national leader). Will outcome of assembly elections have impact on Lok Sabha poll? Modi wave will evidently gather momentum if BJP wins in Rajasthan and Delhi, ruled by the Congress, and retains Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

Some believe that the issues in Lok Sabha election are different than in assembly poll; local
issues play little role in the national elections. Evidently, rise in militancy in Kashmir, consolidation of locally bred terrorists, fall in the value of rupee in comparison with dollar, galloping inflation and other issues of national importance will impact the Lok Sabha elections.

India has a weak Prime Minister, though he has image of a leader with integrity and honesty. In the wake of scam after scam, PM’s image of an impeccable leader has been somewhat dented. This will have bearing on Lok Sabha elections. Some erroneously believe that Modi will be the single most significant cause of the Congress victory in May 2014 general elections despite 2G, coal-gate, Commonwealth games and all other scams. The BJP, on the other hand, believes, also mistakenly, that Manmohan Singh will be its biggest asset in the Lok Sabha poll.IPA
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