The summer of 2019 will witness one of the most important Lok Sabha elections of the past few decades. Many pressing questions are already in every voter’s minds:
- Will the Bhartiya Janta Party make a clean sweep again?
- Will the Congress resurge?
- Will local parties hinder the progress of BJP from 19 to 22 states or possibly, all of them?
Looking at the current trends, the situation seems to be neutral at the moment. Let’s look at them point-by-point.
Congress getting completely ousted or may make a slow comeback?
- INC-UPA reigns in only 4 states, whereas after the Gujarat, Himachal, and Goa wins, the NDA coalition got to a whopping tally of 19!
- However, the Gujarat election didn’t quite turn out to be what BJP hoped for – they expected at least 70% vote-share, but had to settle with 49.1% and Congress (INC) got 41.4%. Not bad for an election that the media pegged for the Congress to lose.
BJP is rallying hard for ‘Congress-Mukt’ India
- Even after failing to get anyone arrested in the 2G scam of erstwhile UPA, BJP wants people to forget Congress. However, the 2018 by-polls in Rajasthan tell a different story; the Congress emerged victorious in the Alwar, Mandalgarh and Ajmer Polls. Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee chief Sachin Pilot affirmed to the people that Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje was being rejected by the people. Maybe that’s true!
- However, if you visit Twitter, you can gauge that support for the BJP is still quite strong, even after the demonetization and GST hoopla.
Resurgence of backward classes in Gujarat
- Both Jignesh Mevani (Dalit leader) and Alpesh Thakor (OBC leader) won from their respective constituencies.
- Hardik Patel (Patidar leader) failed to win.
- This trio has garnered enough public support in their names to let other parties know that they cannot make fake promises and get away with backward class votes.
Lack-luster Union Budget for 2018 – a mistake by the BJP?
- The Union Budget 2018 became the last budget of the current Modi government, but it was severely disappointing!
- The budget focusses on schemes which can provide institutional credit for the marginalized farmers at almost 1.5 times input cost in return for their production of Kharif Crops. However, it failed to impress the middle class and salaried class which evidently played a major role in BJP’s landslide victory in the Lok Sabha elections of 2014.
- By raising cess on the income of salaried individuals from 3% to 4% and removing an exemption on long-term capital gains (taxable now at 10 % of all shares held for more than a year) BJP failed to provide relief even after GST’s failure.
- Imposing a standard deduction of Rs 40,000 for salaried taxpayers was also not well-received since it replaces current exemption of transport allowance and reimbursement of misc. medical expenses.
- The flagship NHPS (National Health Protection Scheme), dubbed the ‘world’s largest government-funded healthcare program’ will help only 10 crore poor families, but won’t cover the entire country’s citizens.
No REAL challenger for Modi – Only State parties can churn up some magic!
- Rahul Gandhi is not being seen as a true challenger to Modi by poll experts as a prime-ministerial candidate even though he is now president of All India Congress Committee (AICC).
- No other party has projected a prime-ministerial candidate as of now for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Currently, no Indian politician can match up to the stature that Modi commands in India and abroad.
- BJP’s defeat in the Assembly elections of Bihar (Grand Alliance of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal (United) and the Congress) and Delhi (Aam Aadmi Party’s clean sweep) was a major blow to the BJP. Still, Modi rules strong in the minds of the junta owing to his popularity.
- In West Bengal, Trinamool Congress (TMC) reigns supreme, in Tamil Nadu, Dravidian parties rule. Similarly, in Kerela, Telangana, Odisha, and Nagaland, local parties rule and the BJP doesn’t even come close! The Congress is still currently ruling in Karnataka, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Puducherry and Punjab.
ABP’s Lokniti-CSDS ‘Mood of the Nation’ survey projects some stats
- The survey claims that if the nation goes to LS polls now, Narendra Modi led NDA can garner a whopping 331 seats or a 45% vote share (they won 336 in the 2014 elections).
- The Congress-led UPA may double its tally compared to 2014 elections bagging at least 127 seats but will be far behind the 272 ‘magic figure’ mark.
- 63% of the respondents in the poll do still believe in the ‘Acche Din’ concept.
- BJP may lose seats in Northern India, however, due to strong campaigning already put in place in the East, they might recover smoothly.
- Modi is the most popular PM candidate at 44%; Rahul Gandhi scores only 9%, but people still want to see him challenge Modi for the PM’s chair.
One Nation-One Election – Not everyone’s keen on it!
- BJP is projecting a plan to possibly host all elections in the country at once – to curb election costs and to save the nation from going into polls every now-and-then.
- Experts say that BJP might be planning to hold LS elections in early 2019 to make it coincide with four major state Assembly elections (Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan whose terms expire almost right around that time for a single election.
- If LS elections are held on time in April-May 2019 (BJP completing its full term), it can still be made to coincide with elections to six states (Telangana, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Sikkim) to make a single election possible then.
- Although this initiative is cost-effective, the opposition has blamed it to be a ploy by the ruling government to become autocratic.
- Alleging Russian-style elections might be held in India where under the pretense of free and fair elections, Russia actually became a ‘managed democracy’ under the authority of Vladimir Putin. Believe it or not, be it the President or the Prime Minister’s post, Putin has held supreme political offices in Russia since 1999 till present!
- Crippling an opposition is not something a democracy supports. If it turns into an oligarchy, the nation will never see an opposition of its choice and kleptocracy may become a trend.
The situation is still on a tightrope. Since the nation votes differently in differently-timed elections (Delhi’s example – all 7 seats to BJP in 2014 (LS elections) and then clear majority to AAP in 2015 (Assembly elections), the Karnataka election and the decision to actually go for simultaneous state and union elections will shape the nation’s mood.
Moreover, GST and demonetization didn’t really go as planned. The nation may want to change its mind and reduce the vote-bank of the BJP. The Karnataka elections in 2018 will be a perfect litmus test for BJP and Congress to show the country where the tides are turning. Only time will tell…
Which party will you want to vote for? Post your comments below!