Book Review: Half – Lion: How P.V Narasimha Rao Transformed India by Vinay Sitapati

He was not just denied a cremation place in the national capital, Pamulaparti Venkata Narasimha Rao was also denied his rightful place in the history of India. While a vilification campaign with the approval of the top echelons of the Congress Party ensured that Rao’s contributions remain neglected, Vinay Sitapati, a political scientist and journalist, takes help of Rao’s personal papers made available exclusively to him to reconstruct Rao’s public life and restore his position in India’s history. In this excellently written book, Sitapati places Rao in the league of revolutionary world leaders like Deng Xiaoping, Franklin D Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. This book is not only about the 1991 economic reforms of India or only about his time as the Prime Minister of India (as it may seem from the title of the book), this meticulously researched book (the voluminous citations are proof of the diligent research) is also an account of how Narasimha Rao’s early personal, social and political career led to the rule of perhaps India’s most impactful Prime Minister.

Apart from the extensive research, Vinay Sitapati’s lucid writing style using several anecdotes keeps the readers engaged. Sitapati is careful not to paint Rao as a saint in the book but does a critical analysis of his actions. While he credits Rao as the principal architect of the economic liberalization of 1991 and explains how he outwitted his rivals with his tactics (also comparing him to Chanakya and Machiavelli), he also criticizes him for several of his other decisions. His mistakes as the Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh are well documented in the book but his vigor for land reforms have been equally praised. Even though the balance is slightly tilted in favor Rao in the book, the biography also honestly captures his failures as a human and a politician.

Even after 25 years of the reforms, Rao’s contributions to India’s liberalization have been largely ignored with most of the credit given to then Finance Minister Manmohan Singh. But Sitapati has no doubt in his mind that Narasimha Rao was the main driver of the reforms. He writes, “Though Manmohan was critical to Rao’s team, he was not indispensable. Had I.G. Patel become finance minister in 1991, liberalization would have likely persisted. But had Narasimha Rao not become prime minister, India would have been a different country.” Despite his socialist past, Rao was quick to understand the need of opening up Indian economy thanks to the economy he inherited from his predecessors. It is amazing how he achieved so much in spite of leading a minority government. Keeping economist Manmohan Singh on the forefront of reforms was strategic to keep his government insulated from political attacks and thereby alive which could facilitate the reforms. The best example of this strategy can be the abolishing of industrial licensing (by the industry ministry held none other than Rao) on the morning of Manmohan Singh’s historic budget so that next day’s papers would focus on the budget and not the politically contentious but very important reform of delicensing. Promoting the change of liberalization as continuity of Neheruvian economics and Rajiv Gandhi’s dream to keep socialist Congressmen in check is another example of his political acumen.

Vinay Sitapati also makes an effort to explain other major events and Rao’s role in them. He lauds Rao’s efforts in reshaping Indian foreign policy of ‘Look East, Look West’. He also defends Rao’s actions before and on the day of Babri demolition. Contrary to the popular view, as the Prime Minister, PV Narasimha Rao made a number of efforts to save the Babri mosque and not let Ayodhya movement go out of hand, if the book is to be believed. Sitapati also explains the behind the scene events of India’s second nuclear test which was initiated by Narsimha Rao. Sitapati carefully analyses his abilities to deal with state leaders, adapt according to situations and take rapid decisions when required. Also, his misjudgments on Babri, overestimation of his hold over Congress, complicity in JMM bribery case to save own government and raking up Hawala case against opposition leaders in order to score political points are described in detail in the book.

Often it is mentioned that by Narasimha Rao was at the right time and right place to usher the liberalizations thanks to the Balance of Payment crisis India was leading to when Rao was sworn in. However, it is important to point out that not only Rao launched reforms despite having a minority mandate which none of his predecessor could do with bigger mandate and similar conditions, he didn’t stop even after Indian economy survived the crisis and kept up opening different sectors of Indian economy which later PMs continued to pursue. If Indians have enjoyed the benefits of liberalization for a quarter of century now, they have mostly Narasimha Rao to thank for. And Vinay Sitapati has done an admirable job in restoring Rao’s position in Indian economic history through the book based on brilliant research.

You can buy the book here

An Indian election officer marks the finger of a voter with ink at a polling stating in Dibrugarh on April 7, 2014, during national elections. Indians have begun voting in the world's biggest election which is set to sweep the Hindu nationalist opposition to power at a time of low growth, anger about corruption and warnings about religious unrest. India's 814-million-strong electorate are forecast to inflict a heavy defeat on the ruling Congress party, in power for 10 years and led by India's famous Gandhi dynasty. AFP PHOTO/Dibyangshu SARKAR        (Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Assembly Elections 2016: The national picture and message beyond

State assembly elections are often used by political observers to gauge the national mood and understand the ever changing political equations at the national and state level. The assembly elections of 2016 in 4 states Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and 1 union territory Puducherry was keenly observed for their significant impact in setting the national picture before the high voltage assembly elections of 2017 of states like Uttar Pradesh, Punjab kick in. With the results declared on May 19, the 2016 round has gone to the BJP and regional parties while the slump of Congress continues across the country.

The National Picture

BJP: Despite being a national party, earlier BJP’s strength was mostly concentrated in the north, west and central India. BJP had never been a major force in the states which went to polls in 2016 (spread over the east and south India). While it had only 5 seats in Assam assembly, WB assembly had only one legislator from BJP in 2011. It had never won a seat in the southern state of Kerala. On May 19, BJP led alliance not only won two third majority in Assam also expanded its footprints in other states with opening account in Kerala assembly & garnering 15% of total votes in the state.

Formation of its first government of North East in Assam may open the gateway for the party to gain foothold in the north eastern states. The Narendra Modi government has been giving special attention to this region since it came to power which is part of the larger strategy to expand BJP’s base to make it a pan India party. Apart from NE, Kerala with 15% vote share will play a major role in its 2019 Lok Sabha election strategy.


Social engineering and broad coalitions helped BJP in Assam (AFP)

BJP can also take a leaf out of the splendid campaign it ran in Assam with its local leaders as the face of the campaign with PM Modi in the background. Social engineering at micro level (gaining support from Tea estate workers, Rabha and Tiwa communities) and broader alliances (with AGP and BPF) were two significant elements of the BJP strategy in Assam which it would like to replicate in other states especially in the crucial election of Uttar Pradesh next year.

The results will embolden the Modi govt. at center which seemed derailed after the losses in Delhi and Bihar. With Mamata and Jayalalithaa’s victories in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu respectively, the central government will be relieved as it is easier to garner issue based support from regional parties in order to pass important bills in Rajya Sabha where it lacks the majority. Mamata has already declared her support to GST in her first press conference after the win while Jayalalithaa shares a personal friendship with Modi. No wonder, few days ago, Arun Jaitley sounded confident of passing the GST bill in Rajya Sabha in the coming Monsoon season.

Congress: The leadership has not been able to arrest the decline of Congress which roughly started from 2012. It lost all the 4 states on its own or with its allies. Among many things, the series of defeats prove the unpopularity of the party all over the country. It may be increasingly difficult for it to find new allies for upcoming elections. In fact, most of the space Congress is receding in the states is being captured by the regional parties making Congress insignificant.

After being thrown out of power in Assam and Kerala, Congress rules in 6 states with only 7% of India’s population residing in those states. Karnataka is the only big state in these 6, other states being Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Manipur. At present, the party faces certain defeats in Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh in 2018, while it’s far from competent to retain Uttarakhand in 2017 after the rebellion by 9 of its MLAs. It may win Punjab but even a new player AAP is spoiling its chances in the northern state. On the other hand, BJP led NDA is expanding at rapid pace and in power in 15 states. The grand old party is in need of bitter medicine otherwise the idea of ‘Congress Mukt Bharat’ is not very far from reality.

The message beyond

There was a phase in Indian politics when Indian voters were confused and distrusted the electoral system. This phase was marred with low voter turnout and hung assemblies. The 2016 elections process and the results support the recent trend of more electoral participation with high turnout at polling booths. The voters are also rewarding the parties with absolute majority with hung assemblies being a thing of past.

While the winning party workers are jubilant and losing side is back to the drawing boards, one pressing issue needs immediate attention of political parties. The run up to the 2016 assembly elections were far from ideal with instances of violence and rampant distribution of cash and alcohol. Such practices can again affect the new found trust in the system among the voters. Political parties need to ensure fair election process of which the largest democracy in the world can be proud of.

(This post was first published on

General Election Results 2014: Live Blog


The General Election 2014 is rightly termed as a historic one because this election was largely fought on the issues of development and governance. Seemingly, a large chunk of the population moved out of the influence of caste and communal influence while deciding his vote. While this is a positive sign for the Indian democracy in the long run, whether the ‘good governance’ ploy won the confidence of the people of India will be known in a few hours from now when the votes are counted. Join us for Live updates and insights on General Election Results 2014.


[Please refresh the page for latest updates]


photo (3)


Alliance Wins/Leads
NDA 335
UPA 61
Others 147
Total Leads/wins 543
19:11: I wrap up this live blogging as I will go out now to celebrate this landmark verdict. Thank you to all those who joined us. Also, congratulations to Narendra Modi and BJP for all the hard work during the campaign. Also congratulations to Today’s Chanakya which got the figures right.
18:10: Narendra Modi addressing people in Vadodara after an emphatic win in Lok Sabha polls
16:45: Rahul Gandhi concedes defeat, wishes the next government well
16:30: Kejriwal accepts defeat, but says it is a good beginning for Aam Aadmi Party. Sonia Gandhi to meet press soon
15:03: Shiv Sena’s Arvind Sawant defeats Milind Deora in Mumbai South
14:52: Salman Khurshid defeated, loses deposit
14:50: Maharashtra Industries minister Narayan Rane resigns
14:48: Rajanikanth tweets and congratulates Jayalalitha and Narendra Modi
14:47: Sonia Gandhi wins from Rae Bareily. Poonam Mahajan wins from Mumbai North Central
14:43: BJD sweeps Odisha in both Lok Sabha and Assembly elections
14:42: Kamalnath wins Chindwara by 1.2 lakh votes, Mallikarjun Kharge trails in Gulbarga
14:29: Mulayam Singh Yadav (Samajwadi Party) leads in Azamgarh and Mainpuri
14:26: Congress’s Captain Amarinder Singh beats BJP’s Arun Jaitley in Amritsar
14:21: Rahul Gandhi consolidating his lead in Amethi. Ahead of Smriti Irani by 90000 votes
13:28: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh calls Narendra Modi and congratulates him on his victory in the Lok Sabha elections.
13:27: BJP’s Murli Manohar Joshi leads in Kanpur against Union Minister Jaiswal
13:23: BJP’s Minakshi Lekhi wins New Delhi seat. Narendra Modi’s victory margin in Vadodara confirmed as 5+ lakh votes
13:11: BJP’s Ananth Kumar defeats Congress’s Nandan Nilekani by winning sixth consecutive time from Bangalore South.
13:10: BJP’s Harsh Vardhan wins by more than 1 lakh votes from Chandni Chowk constituency in Delhi.
13:07: “Thank the people of Tamil Nadu who gave us this great victory. I wish the new govt. and the new PM well. I hope the new govt. will be friendly towards Tamil Nadu” -AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa

13:03: BJP’s Arun Jaitley loses in Amritsar, only setback to BJP on the counting day

13:02: Congress’ Kamalnath wins from Chindwara

12:13: Narendra Modi tweets, “India has won! Achche din aanewale hain”

12:12: Narendra Modi reaches his mother’s home in Gandhinagar. To seek her blessings

12:07: Narendra Modi to be elected as leader of BJP parliamentary team.

12:05: Gen. VK Singh wins Ghaziabad

11:48: Big Congress leaders trailing: Milind Deora, Mukul Wasnik, Priya Dutt, Sanjay Nirupam, Salman Khurshid, Sushil Shinde, Naveen Jindal

11:47: Narendra Modi to visit his mother and seek her blessings. Then will head to Vadodara for victory roadshow

11:44: Narendra Modi wins Varanasi

11:43: Rahul Gandhi leading by 14000 votes only. Rahul had won Amethi by 3 lakh+ margin in 2009

11:40: AAP’s Bhagwant Mann wins Sangrur

11:30: BJP in BIG 6 states: MP 26/29, Rajasthan 25/25, Gujarat 26/26, Bihar 27/40, UP 67/80. Total 211/248

11:26: BJP 25/25 in Rajasthan, 26/29 in Madhya Pradesh

11:16: BJP reaches 272 mark on its own. Congress concedes defeat

10:51: Arun Jaitley trailing by 30000 votes in Amritsar, Narendra Modi leading in Varanasi by 30000 votes

10:44: Salman Khurshid at 5th position in Murshidabad, Mulayam Singh Yadav at no. 3 in Azamgarh. Signs of Modi Tsunami

10:43: Narendra Modi wins Vadodara by more than 4 lakh seats

10:41: BJP 26/26 in Gujarat.

10:19: Varun Gandhi wins in Sultanpur

10:00: BJP touches 272 mark on its own. Congratulation Narendra Modi!

09:44: This is not Modi wave, this is Modi TSUNAMI

09:41: Narendra Modi have a lead of 2 lakh plus now

09:41: NDA reaches simple majority mark of 272. May breach the 300 seats now

09:40: Bihar leading in 30 seats of 40 seats in Bihar

09:35: Ajit SIngh loses to BJP’s Satyapal Singh in Baghpat

09:30: BJP leading in all 7 seats in Delhi

09:28: Mulayam Singh Yadav leading in Mainpuri, Trailing in Azamgarh. Jaya Prada leading in Bijnaur

09:27: Smriti Irani leads from Amethi once again. Narendra Modi has a 1 lakh+ lead in Vadodara, comfortably ahead in Varanasi as well

09:20: SENSEX up by 1000 points

09:15:  NDA is ahead in 148 rural seats

09:10: Leads: Sushma Swaraj in Vidisha, Murli Manohar Joshi in Kanpur, Sanjay Nirupam in North Mumbai, Varun Gandhi in Sultanpur, Rajnath Singh in Lucknow, Shanawaz Hussain in Bhagalpur, Sonia Gandhi in Rae Bareily

09:05: SENSEX up 280 points, NIFTY up by 116 points

09:01: O Rajgopal ahead of Sashi Tharoor now, Rahul Gandhi ahead of Smriti Irani at the moment

09:00: Ghulam Nabi Azad ahead in Uddhampur. Kirron Kher ahead in Chandigarh. LK Advani ahead in Gandhi Nagar

08:55: BJP ahead in Gurgaon, Yogendra Yadav trails. Chirag Paswan ahead in Jamui

08:52: Smriti Irani leads, Rahul Gandhi trails in Amethi

08:45: NDA 137 UPA 41 Others 28
08:41: Celebration starts already in BJP offices across the country

08:40: Meira Kumar trails from Sasaram

08:30: Kejriwal trailing from Varanasi

08:25: Uma Bharti and Anurag Thakur lead from their seats
08:21: NDA 31, UPA 12
08:20: Narendra Modi leads from Vadodara
08:15: VK Singh leads from Ghaziabad, Shashi Tharoor trails from Thiruvanathapuram
08:01: Postal ballots to be counted first
08:00: Counting of votes across all centers begins.

#Elections2014: Narendra Modi’s best TV interviews

As Modi’s interview with the great Arnab Goswami is now over (dubbed as the biggest interview of this election season), one can safely assume that there’ll be no more TV interviews by Modi before the last phase of the polls. It seems CNN IBN and NDTV have been royally snubbed by Modi as they could manage to get only Amit Shah for interview. Anyways, now that all of the Modi’s TV appearances are over, here are some quick general observations on the TV interviews in which the BJP PM nominee appeared.

1. From that infamous Karan Thappar interview to the Arnab Goswami interview aired today, this is part of the Narendra Modi transformation story. While the Karan Thappar interview was a PR disaster, Modi has intelligently used his resources and has gained reputation in the public perception.
2. Modi has also successfully defeated earlier assertions from ‘Modi doesn’t take questions’ to ‘Modi doesn’t take tough questions’ to ‘Modi doesn’t take questions from popular journalists’.
3. Modi understood a very important fact that regional media has more reach than the national media and in the national media, Hindi media has more influence than the English media. Accordingly, the wise CM of Gujarat first appeared on regional language TV channels like ETV & TV9 then on Hindi language channels like India TV, Zee News, ABP News, Doordarshan and Aaj Tak and in the end on one English news channel Times Now. No points for guessing why Times Now.
4. Modi chose the time of his TV appearances carefully. All his major interviews were just before each phase of elections.
5. The interviews helped a lot as it not only let the people of India know Modi from close quarters, but it also helped Modi to clarify his stands on several major issues. He, sure, deflected many questions (many of them were loaded) but also answered several questions with answers that showed his clarity of thought.
6. Narendra Modi’s disdain for the mainstream media was clear from his interviews. In the process, he also coined a term ‘Newstraders’ which will be lapped up by his followers in the social media.

Here’s the 3 best and worst pre poll TV interviews by Modi based in my view. I would love to know your views on this. Please share in the comments.

Best Interviews
3. ANI with Smita Prakash
Why: First serious interview, clarified his stand on many issues, question covering all possible areas, Modi showed genuine interest to answer, but lack of follow up questions from the interviewer

2. ABP News Ghoshna Patra
Why: aggressive Modi, looked tough as he was answering 3 journalists, questions covered many topics not touched in earlier interviews, There we’re follow up questions as well

1. Times Now with Arnab Goswami
Why: interview with Arnab Goswami after all, some very good primary and follow up questions were asked, Modi’s aggressive but he answered to Arnab with the respect that the TV legend deserves

Now, the worst interviews
3. Doordarshan
Why: censorship attempts by DD, first delayed the telecast and then edited some part out. Also the smallest interview of all

2. India TV with Rajat Sharma
Why: Fanboy interviewer, fanboy audience, fanboy interview. More focus on getting the credit for bringing Modi on the TV than asking tough questions.

1. Aaj Tak
Why: it seemed that Modi was not interested in answering any of the Aaj Tak querries, over aggressive, the ‘Krantikari’ jibe for Aaj Tak channel was too good to miss😛

PS: As I am writing this quick post on my iPad, I haven’t embedded the YouTube videos of the interview. I will update them with time.

Projections for 21 Lok Sabha seats of Odisha #Elections2014


The historic general elections 2014 are coming to an end and everyone is now waiting for the results on the May 16th. In Odisha, the elections for the 21 Lok Sabha seats and 147 assembly seats happened simultaneously. The two phase elections in the state ended on April 17th with almost a month to go for the result day. This election is important for Odisha as the incumbent Chief Minister Naveen Pattnaik is seeking mandate for a record fourth term in the office. There are intense speculations going on among many whether BJD can repeat its magic in the elections and how will national parties like BJP and Congress will fare.

Being a political enthusiast from Odisha, I conducted a constituency wise research and tried to understand the political current in each of the 21 LS constituency. Based on that research, I have tried to predict the outcome the results in these seats. At this point I should make it clear that these are not based on any sample surveys and no statistical tool has been used. The research is based on my understanding of Odisha politics. I have already posted this on twitter & facebook on April 17th, 6 pm itself. Sharing the seat projections again on this blog to properly document the projection with detailed explanation.

Before I get to the constituency wise prediction, here are my five major observations about the Odisha elections 2014.

1. Historically, people of Odisha do not vote on the basis of caste or religion. But personality and charisma of a leader influences voting pattern very much. That explains why the people of Odisha are smitten by the Naveen Pattnaik phenomenon for last 14 years.

2. People want Odisha to have a larger voice at the national stage. Many people (especially in urban areas) are of of the view that by not aligning with any major political formation at the center, BJD has failed to bring big opportunities for Odisha in last 5 years. There’s a definite drop in the BJD’s popularity ratings when compared to 2009 when it got its best ever results.

3. Even after the BJD rule of 3 terms, there is no love lost between the 3.5 cr population of Odisha and Naveen Pattnaik. Despite the early hopes in the Congress camps of being able to corner BJD this time, factional feud ensured that state congress unit’s constant decline continues. The state of Congress in Odisha can be gauged from the very fact that the Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh joined BJD just before the elections. Delhi High Command’s mishandling of the state unit by tusting inefficient and unpopular leaders like Jayadev Jena and ignoring senior congress leaders’ opinion led to around 20 plus major leaders’ departure from the party just before the election.

4. Majority of Odias want Narendra Modi as the PM of India. However, due to the weak structure of BJP in the state, many voted for BJD owing to the TINA factor. There are also many constituencies (mostly western Odisha and some of the urban pockets in the coastal Odisha) voted for the BJP in the Lok Sabha thanks to the Modi wave, but chose BJD in their respective assembly seats.

5. The ‘Modi for Center, Naveen for state’ trend was heavily observed in case of the youth. Voters in the age group 18-30 are the most vocal supporters of Modi in Odisha. Many young voters voted for BJP without even knowing the name of the BJP candidate in their constituency. BJP has also recovered some of its party structure in its traditional base of western Odisha which it had lost to BJD during its alliance government. One can expect at least 5-10% vote swing in favor of the BJP this time.

Now let’s move towards the projections now.

Odisha Phase-1Odisha Phase-2

Final Projection for all 21 seats


*Update (14th May):Figures of the leading Exit Polls for Odisha is as follows.

Exit Polls LS Seats Predictions for Odisha
CNN IBN-CSDS 12-16 3-7 1-3
Aaj Tak-CICERO 10-14 5-9 1-3
ABP-Nielsen 9 10 2
Times Now-ORG 14 2 5
New 24-Today’s Chanakya 12 8 1
India TV-C Voter 11 6 4
Satta Market (for BJP) 5


Detailed explanation for each constituency is provided below.

Constituency 2014 Prediction 2009 Remarks
Bargarh BJP Cong BJD is not in the race here for the LS. Many BJD loyalists (including workers) voted for BJP candidate to defeat Congress MP Sanjay Bhoi
Sundargarh BJP Cong Sundargarh is BJP’s secure seat. Jual Oram had lost this seat by a margin of 0.5% votes last time. Long time respected leader in this area
Sambalpur BJP Cong Modi’s rally here was a major boost in a constituency which was already leaning towards the BJP
Bolangir BJD BJD While BJP’s Sangeeta Singhdeo is expected to do better in urban areas, the prince of the Bolangir royal family Kalikesh Singhdeo is expected to retain the seat in a tight battle.
Kalahandi Cong Cong Kalahandi is witnessing a tough triangular fight. Congress’ Bhakta Charan Das is a veteran leader in this area with many loyal supporters. BJP’s surge riding the Modi wave will hurt BJD’s chances here
Nabarangpur Cong Cong Maoist affected Nabarangpur shocked everyone with 82% voter turnout. Historically, a Congress bastion, Congress’ Pradeep Majhi is expected to retain the seat as the BJP’s surge is again expected to curtail the BJD hopes here
Kandhamal BJP BJD While BJP is ahead in the G Udayagiri and Baliguda segments, BJD is strong in Phulbani and Boudh segments in this communally sensitive constituency. This is a very close battle which I believe should go in favor of the BJP
Aska BJD BJD Considered as BJD’s fort, Aska is secured for BJD
Berhampur Cong BJD Popular movie actor Siddhant Mohapatra shocked everyone last time by defeating veteran Congress leader Chandrasekhar Sahu. Traditionally a Congress seat (Congress has lost here only twice) will return to Sahu again as BJD’s Sidhant’s popularity has dropped due to his prolonged absence from the constituency.
Koraput BJD BJD Another Congress bastion which was breached for the first time ever by BJD in 2009. However, Koraput is expected to repose its trust in BJD once again
Keonjhar BJD BJD Famous for mining activities, Keonjhar, which was once a BJP seat has shifted its allegiance towards BJD lately.
Mayurbhanj BJD BJD Sudam Marandi (previously in JMM) joining BJD will further help BJD in Mayurbhanj. One of the few constituencies where BJD may increase its victory margin compared to last time
Balasore BJP Cong Odisha’s lone minister in the UPA-II, Srikant Jena had won Balasore last time gaining from a fierce fight between BJD and BJP. This time around, Srikant Jena has lost the trust of the local Congress cadre. He is unpopular among the common people as well. BJP’s Pratap Sarangi has an image of incorruptible and selfless social worker which is helping him. He has a connect with the grass-root which his opponent from the BJD lacks.
Bhadrak BJD BJD The main battle is between the BJD and the Congress. The 7 time MP Arjun Charan Sethi is expected to win the seat for straight 5th time.
Jajpur BJD BJD An interesting constituency to watch as two powerful factions of the BJD have locked horns here because of ticket distribution. A completely unknown and inexperienced candidate Rita Tarai has been fielded by the BJD as a result. However, the BJP and Congress are so weak here that BJD may get votes by default. BJP may replace Congress at the second place
Dhenkanal BJP BJD BJP has never won Dhenkanal which has traditionally shifted between Congress and BJD (Janata Dal in past). Though BJD has repeated its 3 time MP Tathagata Satpathy, BJP’s Rudra Pany has made huge gains if ground reports are to be believed. Many Congress workers have switched allegiance and working for Pany’s win here. Though a very close call to make, I feel Modi wave will help BJP making new ground here.
Cuttack BJD BJD 4 time MP from Cuttack, Bhartruhari Mahatab of BJD who won the last election by a margin of 2.36 lakhs votes is not expected to face any opposition from Congress or BJP
Kendrapara BJD BJD Kendrapara is considered as the fort of anti-congress politics in Odisha. Congress has never won Kendrapara since 1957. Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda, who is considered as the face of Odisha in Delhi, should win handsomely here.
Jagatsinghpur BJD CPI BJD has left this seat to its alliance partner CPI last time. BJD’s Dr. Kulamani Samal shouldn’t face any resistance to win this coastal district
Puri BJD BJD Ace Supreme Court lawyer Pinaki Mishra is fighting from this electoral fort of BJD. Congress’ new face Sanchita Mohanty is not even in the picture anywhere.
Bhubaneswar BJD BJD Baba Prasanna Patsani is immensely popular because of his saffron attire and humorous speeches. Thanks to his and his party BJD’s popularity, Patsani doesn’t campaign much but has been winning this seat easily. Patsani managed to get the BJD ticket after a lot of consultation among the BJD ranks to give a new face a chance. The rethink was due to Congress fielding a veteran cine artist Bijay Mohanty and BJP’s young (and unknown) Pruthwiraj Harichandan riding the Modi wave. In Bhubaneswar City, a big number of voters voted for BJP in the Lok Sabha even though they didn’t know anything about Harichandan. But with only 40% voting in the city, and BJD’s Patsani being popular among the rural voters, Patsani will retain Bhubaneswar.

Is there a Modi wave in India?


If anything the voter turnout in the initial phases of the election tells us, it is that the general election 2014 is no normal election. This election is as much about finding practical solutions to our problems as it is about opposing the status quo. The general public’s political awareness has increased in last 2 years. The public wants to engage in different issues rather than preferring to be helpless bystander. The youth of India (many first time voters among them) has also started taking a lot of interest in the day to day politics.  There is an underlying hope among the electorate that the 2014 election results will change the economic and political scene in the country forever. There is a ‘current’ that is working in the country which has made the public to resist nonperformance of the political class.

How big is this current? Can it be called a wave? Is it similar to the political wave India experienced in the elections of 1977, 1980, 1984 and 1989? What is the nature of this wave? Is it anti-Congress or Pro-Modi wave?

On December 8th, when the results of 4 assembly elections were declared, I was of the view that if India is experiencing any wave like phenomenon then it is anti-congress in nature and Modi is the face of this wave. The voting pattern in the 4 states (Rajasthan, MP, Chattishgarh & Delhi) indicated that people voted more against Congress than for BJP (which is the principal alternative of Congress in India).

Is it the same for parliamentary elections as well? Or has the anti-congress wave converted into a pro-Modi wave with time? Obviously, the final result on the May 16th can answer these questions.

In case, the following results are obtained on the 16th of May, the wave can be called an anti-congress wave.

1. Congress ends up with historically low number of seats (<=114) in the 16th lok sabha.
In 1999, Congress was reduced to its lowest ever figure in Lok Sabha (114) thanks to the rising BJP and regional parties. If Congress’ seats in the 16th Lok Sabha is around that figure or even lower, the mood all over the country can be declared as anti-congress. If we assume the Opinion poll results to be true, then this scenario is very much likely on the May 16th. In fact many polls are predicting less than 100 seats for Congress this time which will be a serious blow to the grand old party of India.

2. Congress fails to achieve the first position (in terms of no. of seats) in almost all states.
As per all opinion polls, except Karnataka (close fight, but Congress ahead), Kerala and Assam, Congress is nowhere in fight in any of the states. Congress may not even win seats in double digit in many states.

3. Most big leaders of UPA (including Sonia and Rahul Gandhi) will lose their seats.
In 1977, the Janata wave had swept the North India and as a result of which Indira and Sanjay Gandhi had lost their ‘safe’ seats of Amethi and Rae Bareily. It was a sign that Congress was thoroughly defeated. Will 2014 see a repeat? The reluctance shown by senior congress leaders to fight this time seem to be an indication what the results might be.

*If Sonia and Rahul manage to win their seats (even with less margin), the 2014 wave can be easily considered as smaller than the 1977 wave.

4. Congress becomes a minor player in the South India.
Even when the anti-congress wave had swept the whole of North India, South India remained sympathetic towards the Congress in 1977. In fact, after losing the Rae Bareily seat, Indira Gandhi seeked re-election in 1978 from Chikmagalur in Karnataka. The electoral wave post emergency, therefore, was not pan India and limited only to North India. The support for Congress in the southern part of the Indian peninsula can be gauged from the very fact that Sonia Gandhi fought from Bellary, Karnataka along with the Rae Bareily when her acceptance was in doubt. It is not surprising therefore that the state of Andhra Pradesh has been providing the largest no. of MPs to Congress in last 2 general elections.

If the recent opinion polls are anything to go by, Congress’s survival in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu is under serious risk. In Karnataka, it is in neck to neck fight with a resurgent BJP after Yeddyurappa’s return.

Now for this anti-congress wave to convert into a pro-Modi wave, following events need to occur.

1. BJP will win a record number of seats in the Lok Sabha (185+ at least)
BJP’s highest ever tally in the LS is 183 which it won in the 1999 general election. If there is a definite support in the public for Modi, it must cross the 183 mark set by Vajpeyee. If there is indeed a wave, it should breach the 200 mark as well which will be an unprecedented achievement for a party which has a limited geographical spread.

2. All big leaders of the NDA should win their seats handsomely

3. Modi will secure thumping victories from both his seats

4. Not just the Congress, even the regional parties/AAP fail to stop the BJP
If regional parties and AAP who are opposed to the BJP & Congress win a fair number of seats (which will automatically lead to a <185 seats scenario for the BJP), then it will puncture the claims of a pan India Modi wave. If people prefer a third party in seats where Congress (or its ally) is not the prime opponent of the BJP, then BJP can’t claim to be the public’s natural choice for the Congress’ alternative.

However, the non-congress, non-BJP parties are not doing well if the opinion polls are to be believed. As per such poll results and ground reports, JDU in Bihar and SP, BSP in UP (which are the major regional players) will finish below BJP in the respective states. In Odisha, reports claim that BJP has made some serious dents to the BJD vote bank in parliamentary polls without having solid party structure in the state. Sensing the mood, even non-NDA regional parties (like MNS, INLD etc.) are using Narendra Modi’s name for their poll campaign.

5. In South India, BJP gets more seats than the Congress
All requirements for a true Modi wave will be complete if BJP, for the first time in its history, wins more seats than the Congress in the south India. It looks like a possibility as BJP has gained ground in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh (after alliance with TDP). Its alliance in the Tamil Nadu with MDMK, DMDK and PMK can also win a few seats and heavily damage the AIADMK base.

How Narendra Modi’s “lack of education” is advantageous for him


Even though constitutionally our leaders need not be highly educated (even literate), we, especially the urban middle class, wish to have learned politicians to lead us. That’s the reason, Arvind Kejriwal, Jairam Ramesh and Manohar Parrikar with their IIT degrees are model leaders in popular perception. When educated professionals, be it Sashi Tharoor, Nandan Nilekani or Adarsh Shastri, join politics, we get over-excited with the hope that they will bring new perspectives to the old world of Indian politics. That’s the reason, in 2004, people of India had high expectations from the government led by eminent economist Dr Manmohan Singh. Is lack of proper education of our leaders dangerous then? What it means to have an uneducated leader?

A few months ago, Aakar Patel, in an article for The Mint, argued how “lack of proper education” can lead to certitude which can be dangerous at times. According to Mr Patel, “doubt is the sign of an enlightened mind” which is seen as indecision in India whereas certitude is seen as a “virtue in making leaders strong and decisive”, but decisive leaders tend to make stupid decision due to lack of awareness of opposing arguments. To quote Mr Patel, “Extreme certitude, of the sort we observe in Gujarat’s chief minister Narendra Modi, is actually a negative quality when coupled with a lack of proper education. Modi has never been to college and his degree is from a correspondence course”.

I beg to differ and let me explain why. First of all, in a country like ours, social status plays a huge role in determining the quality of education one can get. So don’t hold it against someone. And good education doesn’t necessarily guarantee good governance by the leader. But does lack of it affects the leadership and decision making process?

Usually, people in a leadership role but with less knowledge try to simplify the issue in their hand. They try to understand the issue in layman’s terms and they take the help of only experts and nobody else. To bring clarity in their understanding, they don’t hesitate to ask simple questions which the learned people may feel embarrassed to ask. They don’t leave the subject till they understand each aspect of it with utmost clarity. It is no wonder that Narendra Modi, the front-runner in the PM race, seeks inputs from economists and policy experts like Jagdish Bhagwati, Arvind Panagariya, Ravi Mantha and Bibek Debroy for his economic vision. A group intellectuals is closely working with Modi to shape his strategies to address many problems that India faces now.

Contrary to Aakar Patel’s argument that an uneducated leader may act on his instincts, he would actually rely more on data than his instincts. Therefore, the decision taken will be balanced, objective and effective. In fact, it is the highly educated leaders with their own personal bias and disdain for other’s views who have more chances of taking decisions unilaterally.

People with less education try to compensate the deficiency of theoretical knowledge with practical experience. Before taking any decision, they check if the same had been tried by anyone ever in the world and what was the outcome. This kind of research helps in finding out the best practices of the world and follow it in your area. Take for example the much talked about Narmada canal top solar power plant in Gujarat. The idea is to fix solar panels over the 19000km long Narmada canal network to generate solar power. This is actually an improved version of the idea of floating solar panels which was implemented first in a pond in California, US.

So, if you know your deficiencies in terms of formal education, you can actually use it to your advantage. Modi has been doing it as the Chief Minister of Gujarat and he will be able to do it as the Prime Minister as well.

Mood of the Indian Online Voter Survey – 2014

Can you spend 3 minutes of your time to help me understand the mood of the Indian online voter? Please give your response on this survey