How to Lose an Election — Congress Ishtyle

By Ashwin Tombat
29 April 2019 20:56 IST

What is the 2019 Lok Sabha election really about? For the BJP, it is to project Prime Minister Narendra Modi as India’s only hope — TINA (There Is No Alternative). This is expressed in the slogan: “Phir Ek Baar Modi Sarkar”. The BJP has eclipsed itself. The party is now a mere extension of its leader.

The Congress slogan is “Ab Hoga NYAY”. It is a clever reference to the party’s central plank of social justice, based around its main election promise of ‘Nyunatam Aay Yojana’ (NYAY) or Minimum Income Support Programme of Rs6,000 per month to 5 crore of the poorest families in the country.

Does this make economic sense? We don’t know. For that matter does the BJP’s pre-election handout — of Rs6,000 per year to 12 crore farmers with less than five acres landholding each — make any financial sense? Neither are issues for discussion here.

It is the BJP or, rather, Mr Modi who has been in power. He had a historic opportunity — the first clear majority for a single party in an election in 30 years, after 1984!

But his performance has been less than satisfactory, with a litany of unfulfilled promises. Maharashtra Navnirman Sena leader Raj Thackeray has exposed them and openly called him a “liar” in 10 massive public meetings held across western Maharashtra.

In UP, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi is also dredging up all of Mr Modi’s unfulfilled promises. She says he is a friend of the rich and an enemy of the poor, that he is destroying India’s democratic institutions and dragging the country towards dictatorship.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi, however, goes on like a stuck record about Rafale, and the slogan “Chowkidar Chor Hai”. Instead of concentrating on NYAY and the message of social justice, his aim seems to be to counter TINA with AOBM: 'Anyone but Modi'.

The central question of this election is no longer ‘social justice versus national security’. It is not ‘Congress vs BJP’. It isn’t ‘Who will become the next Prime Minister?’. Instead it is: ‘Will Narendra Modi become PM again’? With three phases over and four to go, it is now a referendum on Mr Modi.

Why call him a ‘Chor’? No money exchanged hands in the Rafale deal. The charges are nepotism and crony capitalism. Not bribery. In Bofors, a Rs64 crore kickback was involved. In Rafale, not one paisa.

If the aim of the Congress was to make 2019 an 'Anyone but Modi' election, it needed to bend over backwards to make alliances and field a single candidate against the BJP. The BJP made concessions to win allies in UP, Bihar and Maharashtra. But the Congress, full of false confidence after its state victories in Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh — where it contested alone — did the opposite.

Very likely, the Congress may lose this election, which it could have won. It will be Rahul’s fault. But despite all their follies, it’s still not going to be easy for Mr Modi.

Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Odisha and West Bengal together account for 192 seats. Even during the Modi wave in 2014, the BJP-led NDA could win just 24 seats from these states, of which 17 were from Karnataka. Now there’s no wave and no significant pre-poll allies in these states except the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, which is on course for a massive defeat. Mr Modi’s share in these states is definitely coming down.

In Uttar Pradesh, the NDA won 73 of 80 seats in 2014. Other parties contested separately. This time SP, BSP and RLD have allied, and the NDA share may be 35 to 40 seats or less.

Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh have 65 seats. The Congress won the election in these states just a few months ago. The NDA, which won 62 of them in 2014, will find it hard to get more than 30 to 35 seats here.

Maharashtra gave Mr Modi an unprecedented 42 seats out of 48 in the last election. This time, its tally will likely come down to around 20 to 25.

Of the 385 seats from the above 12 states, Mr Modi’s tally is unlikely to cross 110 to 112 seats. Only 158 seats are left. The halfway mark is 272.

Even if the NDA wins each and every one of the remaining seats (which is next to impossible), it cannot reach the magic figure. To form a government, the BJP will have to cobble together some post-poll alliances.

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

Blogger's Profile

Ashwin Tombat

Ashwin Tombat has been the Editor of Gomantak Times and Herald. Worked as an Associate Editor of national magazine Gentleman in Mumbai, before shifting to Goa. Loves sailing, also participates in Marathons. Has worked as an activist in students's union and trade unions in Maharashtra. Also an artist of Street Theatre during student days.

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BJP on its own can not cross 100 seat this time...

- Rajendra Dessai, Panjim | 29 th April 2019 17:54


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