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.

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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 YOurnib.com)

General Election Results 2014: Live Blog


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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.

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GENERAL ELECTION RESULTS 2014: LIVE UPDATES

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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.

Projections for 21 Lok Sabha seats of Odisha #Elections2014


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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

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

Exit Polls LS Seats Predictions for Odisha
BJD BJP INC
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
Phase-I
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
Phase-II
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?


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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 affected the #ElectionResults2013


The Modi Wave

The Modi Wave

As the #ElectionResults2013 started pouring in this morning, TV studios across the country started asking one common question: “Is there a Modi wave?”. The answer is, certainly, NO. The wave that has swept the four states (Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Chattishgarh) that went to the elections in 2013 is “Anti-Congress” in nature but Modi is the national face of this wave. Some political analysts have, however, expressed their doubts over Modi’s influence over the BJP‘s performance in the 4 states assembly elections as the BJP didn’t sweep Delhi and Chattishgarh. Did the BJP’s Prime Ministerial Modi fail to impress the people then? Let’s find out how the Modi factor affected the BJP’s performance in each of these 4 states.

Madhya Pradesh:

Madhya Pradesh is the state which was influenced the least by Modi. The reason was obviously the presence of a strong leader in the incumbent CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan. The BJP government boasted an impressive report card and the government was expected to get the mandate to rule the state for the third term. However, there was a belief that BJP’s strength in the assembly would be reduced with Congress doing a late catching up thanks to the leadership of Jyotiraditya Scindia. The results, however, show that BJP has actually gained seats compared to the last elections in MP despite the 10 years of incumbency. It can’t be conclusively said if the 20 odd seats that the BJP has gained was because of the Modi factor. In short, Modi had a limited influence in MP and he worked well in the supporting role in the state.

If I could rate Modi’s effect on the MP results on a 10 point scale, I would give 5/10.

Rajasthan

Another state where BJP was set to return to power was Rajasthan. The state has a history of changing government in every 5 years. Add Vasundhara Raje‘s charisma to that and it was almost certain that Congress would lose the state despite it being the model state for the Congress brand of governance. But did anyone expect the Congress to hit the lowest mark with a measly 21 seats in a 199 member assembly? This decimation of congress was partly due to the Modi factor as accepted by Vasundhara Raje a short while ago. Gujarat being a neighboring state of Rajasthan, usually comparison happens between the two states in terms of governance. Gujarat’s progress under the Modi brand of governance certainly played a role in influencing the people of Rajasthan rejecting the congress brand.

Modi’s effect on the Rajasthan Results: 6/10

Chattishgarh

History suggests that assembly elections end up with close fights in Chattishgarh with 5-10 seats difference between the winner and the other party. BJP has retained its position (49 seats compared to 50 seats last time) even though the initial trends showed Congress inching ahead of the BJP. Despite the much lauded good governance provided by Dr Raman Singh and his government, there were doubts over the ability of this govt. to return to the power because of two basic reasons. One, the 10 years of incumbency and two (the most important as well), the behaviour of Bastar area which everyone thought would go in favor of the Congress expressing sympathy to the slain congress leaders in a maoist attack. Modi, a clever politician, knew this well and focused a lot on Chattishgarh. He visited several times and addressed 12 rallies in the state which has only 90 assembly seats (that’s one rally for every 7-8 seats). In the end if BJP managed to retain power despite the doubtful start, a large part of the credit must also go to Modi.

Modi’s effect on the Chattishgarh Results: 7/10

Delhi

Despite the 15 years of Congress rule, BJP was never in a position threaten Congress in Delhi. It was always hopeful of getting back to the power by default as the only viable alternative to encash the anger for Congress misrule. On the emergence of another strong alternative in the form of Arvind Kejariwal’s AAP, BJP didn’t start its campaign well. AAP’s volunteer activism based campaign was well suited for Delhi and thanks to its clean image, it started capturing the anti-congress votes. Thanks to the infighting and lack of a leader with a clean image, BJP was losing out in the race initially.

Narendra Modi‘s intervention in this scenario was on two fronts. First, he projected Dr Harshvardhan with a clean image as the BJP’s CM candidate in Delhi. As the decision had the backing of Modi, long-time CM hopeful Vijay Goel had to go with the decision without creating any drama. Modi also addressed 7 mega rallies (1 each in every Lok Sabha constituency/1 rally for every 7 assembly constituency).

As per the results announced today, BJP has ended up as the single largest party in Delhi and within a striking distance from a simple majority. There’s just one question for those asking “where’s the Modi wave?”. Considering AAP’s stunning performance and the splitting of the anti-congress votes, would the BJP have won the 33 seats it has now secured if Modi hadn’t been a factor? That should answer how Modi affected the Delhi elections.

Modi’s effect on the Delhi Results: 8/10

 

Rahul-rage on Convicted Neta Ordinance: 5 Things You Need To Understand


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“My opinion on this ordinance is that it’s complete nonsense”, Rahul Gandhi thundered at the Press Club of India. Rahul added that the ordinance that seeks to protect convicted MPs and MLAs “should be torn up and thrown away”. What was on Rahul’s mind when he outrightly rejected the same ordinance that his party’s govt. cleared and sent for the approval of the President of India? Was the Congress Vice President really kept ignorant on such an important government decision? What’s the message that the Gandhi scion and the Congress party wanted to give? Here are the five things you need to understand on the whole issue.

1. Rahul wants to regain his image
A few years ago, when Rahul Gandhi entered the arena of politics, he was hailed as the symbol of the aspirations of the Indian youth. People had expected Rahul Gandhi to change the way politics is done in India. He had also created the right noises initially to gain an image of a new age politician who could bring back respect to Indian politics.

But Rahul Gandhi’s abject failure and poor performance as an important politician and a member of parliament caused a loss of that image. His silence on several issues of national importance didn’t help his cause. UPA’s track record on corruption and mis-governance was also linked to Rahul’s image. As a result, the youth has now accepted a 60+ Modi as its favorite hero and role model. In fact, my guess is even Arvind Kejriwal is more popular among the youth than the ‘young’ Gandhi.

Rahul wants to regain that ‘role model of youth’ image back. As the youth is angry with the rising influence of criminals in the politics, Team Rahul decided to use the Convicted Neta ordinance for this effect. Rejecting the ordinance could be the least he could do to bridge the increasing gap between him and the young voices of India.

2. Rahul Gandhi wants to look strong
As part of his image makeover strategy, Rahul wants to look decisive and strong. Perhaps to counter the Modi effect. While the BJP’s PM candidate, Narendra Modi, wins new fans with every speech of his, Rahul Gandhi, who lacks oratorical skills, has an image of a soft and confused leader in the public perception.

To reverse such views, Rahul, wanted to show determination and firmness in his views on the controversial ordinance. He used strong words like ‘nonsense’, ‘torn up’ and ‘thrown away’ to show his conviction. However, only time will tell how the people will react to Rahul’s outburst against his own party’s govt.

3. The whole drama was pre-planned
Yes, with a certain amount of confidence, I believe the Rahul-rage is not genuine and was meticulously planned. Rahul is an SPG protectee. He can not suddenly reach somewhere without first informing the SPG which is entrusted with the job of his security. As per some media reports, the SPG was well aware of Rahul’s plans to visit PCI. SPG was, apparently, instructed to secretly and silently, make necessary arrangements for Rahul’s protection. One TV anchor also said that PCI was informed last night by the Congress party (while booking the venue for ‘Meet the Press’ event) that ‘one big leader’ may remain present with Ajay Maken during the press meet.

Apart from that the visible restlessness to speak as soon as possible, rolling up sleeves frequently, inattentiveness towards other speakers and immediate leaving after making his point were some of the indicators that the only purpose of his presence was to make that statement.

4. Manmohan Singh doesn’t fit into Congress’ game plan for 2014
On this blog, I had written a year or two ago that Congress would dump Manmohan and promote Rahul Gandhi as the face of change in 2014. Today’s events strongly point in that direction. Rahul’s drama tried to paint the Manmohan led UPA govt. as sympathetic to the criminals, while the Rahul led Congress as intolerant of crime and corruption. This is a clear indicator that Manmohan will be made the fall guy for all the mistakes UPA has committed so far.

5. Congress saved itself from multiple embarrassments (From BJP & President of India)
BJP scored a few brownie points by making its opposition to the ordinance public. Its vocal resistance pushed the Congress to the backfoot. Similarly, President Mr. Pranab Mukherjee summoning 3 cabinet ministers to explain the hurry to push the ordinance was also embarrassing for the government of the day. It also raised the doubt if the President of India was contemplating to refuse to sign the ordinance. That would be the most embarrassing that the congress leadership could expect.

So, in a master stroke, the Congress party staged the drama which not only brought Rahul Gandhi back to prominence but also saved the govt. from a major embarrassment. If the President actually refuses to sign it (while this post is being written, Times Now has tweeted citing its sources that “Pranab not to sign the ordinance”) , the party can claim that that the president’s action was in respect to Rahul Gandhi and the Indian youth’s views.

Not Jasmine, but India can have a ‘Lotus Revolution’


Time for the Lotus to bloom?

Indians, like citizens of many countries, are excited about the ‘Jasmine Revolution’ which has erupted in the Arab countries and countries in North Africa. The people in countries like Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Baharin, Yemen etc. have come to the street to protest against the autocratic regime in their countries which have set examples of poor governance. People here have started questions like, “Doesn’t India need a Jasmine revolution? After all these scams, inflation, price rise, goof ups in external affairs etc. we badly need a change. We must have our own Jasmine Revolution against this governance deficit”.

While thousands of  people hitting the street protesting against the government sounds exciting, but to be honest, India doesn’t need it. It is simply because there is no autocratic system ruling us. Whichever party (coalition to be exact as much has been blamed upon coalitions and its dharma these days) assumes power in India is chosen through a definite democratic process. There are enough checks available in Indian system to regulate the government’s activity. Independent bodies audits government’s conduct. Judiciary raps a government for its misdeeds. Opposition parties try to formulate the public opinion against the misdeeds of the party in power (may be for their own political gain). Media (with question marks over its neutrality) in many cases keeps up the public pressure on the governments. If the government still remain involved in anti-people activities, the people use their ‘Ramvaan‘ and vote out them in the next election. This wasn’t the case in the countries where Jasmine Revolution erupted. As we have these systems in place in our country, we don’t need any Jasmine revolution.

What we can consider is having a ‘Lotus Revolution’. The current regime at the center under the leadership of the Congress party doesn’t instill the confidence that it can rule the country anymore. The regulatory authorities mentioned above applied their muscles to force the UPA to change its road that is taking the country and the Aam Admy to Ravan Rajya. Days after days, we are angered with news of scams and how the powerful people inside the government guided the scamsters with their leadership. The blood boils when some other friends of the scamsters support the activity in full public view. As the year of scams 2010 ended, everyone in this country had hoped that the new year would be a different one. Highly wished wish remained a wish and the new year was no better. With ministers reportedly involved in series of scams, one would expect the top leaders take action against them and show the sign of confidence to the people. But neither the PM nor the UPA chief Sonia Gandhi seemed to be taking any action against the culprits. The PM looked hapless as ever; difference this time was that his pathetic condition was screaming more loudly than ever. Madamji either didn’t or couldn’t want to control her children. The country wanted to see her as a ‘Tiger Mom’ but she couldn’t get into that role nor the ‘charming prince’ could be the ‘tiger cub’.

If scams weren’t enough, the pathetic leadership got us into a serious inflationary condition in which price rise and inflation is justified saying these conditions will stay along with India’s growth. What a handicapped ‘Bharat Nirman’ is being done! The economist PM, the planning commission chief Montek Singh’s deadlines for reducing inflations passed silently as the prices remained high. So what’s the way to rein this unruly government?

After all the regulations imposed by the externally regulatory forces, the only option left is the flexing muscles by the people i.e. to vote the government out of the power. But there is one major problem in pursuing this option. Voting out Congress means choosing BJP and its coalition. That is what I call the ‘Lotus Revolution’. For people join this Lotus Revolution, the BJP has to be strong enough. People must believe that BJP is THE alternative to the current government which can give the country the good governance.

Road to 2014 for BJP/ The Lotus Revolution:

The BJP must brand itself as the alternative to the Congress in the next 3 years. It must get out of its nonsensical approach to issues. It must understand how people vote. Many political analysts and BJP leaders say that BJP lost elections in 2004 and 2009 because of India Shining slogan and attacking manmohan Singh personally respectively. Does the result of a national election depend on such small events during election campaigns?

People judge parties on their performances in the past five years. Their is a certain trend to explain how the people decide whom they vote. There can be a theory that precisely explains how a certain party is chosen and the others are not. When people feel extremely for or against a particular party, they vote in a definite way. If the governance is bad, then the govt. turns demon in the eyes of the common men and they vote with a national agenda in mind. When people faced Indira Gandhi’s emergency, whole India voted against her and her party lost even in traditional congress bastions. People chose the alternative which was the Janata Party then. When Janata Party couldn’t fare well as per people’s expectations and equaled their previous regimes in the level of misrule, people voted them out too and the alternative, Congress, was chosen. It was not the case of that period only. Later in nineties when doubts raised in minds of Indians about Rajiv Gandhi thanks to his flip flops in Shah Bano case and later opening Ayodhya locks, people perceived himself as a politician who can play with religious sentiments as per his requirement of votes. He was voted out and Congress was made week by the people. As there was no clear alternative, it only made BJP slightly stronger. He was the same Rajiv who rode the sympathy to the PM’s kursi few years earlier. People felt strongly sympathetic about him after Indira Gandhi’s assassination and voted according to the theory. On the other hand, when a government gives satisfactory governance, people vote differently without any national agenda. They vote according to their local needs and demands. In LokSabha elections, the voter thinks about the party’s promises for his state/area and vote accordingly. In such cases, lack of alternatives means people choose to continue with the same regime. Immediately after the Independence, due to lack of alternatives and people’s low aspirations from the govt.s, Congress continued to rule the country.

BJP needs to understand its failures and this theory explains it all. In 2004, the governance was satisfactory. If closely checked, govt. was perceived to be pro-urban if not anti-rural. With India entering the high tech age (more due to demand of the world), an imaginary divide grew between the rural and urban areas. BJP buoyed by its popularity among the middle class urban voters couldn’t see it. In the mean time Congress under Sonia Gandhi’s leadership strengthened its rural base. Sonia was smart as she was aware that the largest voter base still lives in the rural Bharat. That is why Rahul Gandhi often try to invoke that Bharat-India divide even now. As the voters could have gone any way in 2004, they chose congress as they felt it to be nearer to them. In 2009, again the governance was satisfactory. The voter could have tilted any way but Congress ensured the rural voters stays with it thanks to schemes like NREGS and farmers’ loan waiver. While BJP, still unable to see its deficiencies, kept on making its urban class image stronger. It’s extreme Hindutva had made it unpopular among many sections in the society.

For this ‘Lotus Revolution’ to take place, BJP needs to project itself as a national alternative of the Congress. It should be near to the rural voters as nearer as  it aspires to be to the urban voters. This rural+urban vote base is a sure win strategy. BJP can find the examples in its own ranks. Narendra Modi, arguably BJP’s most popular icon, is often branded as pro-industry CM something the urban voters like. That doesn’t make him alienated to his rural voters. In fact, he has been successful in developing infrastructure in the rural areas of his state, Gujarat. He has made the Public Distribution System of the system fault free. Broadband connectivity of villages, electrification of almost all villages in the state, improving the agricultural infrastructures are some of the very popular and positive steps that Modi’s govt. has taken to win the hearts of the rural mass. People feel connected with the administration as their CM hears public grievances directly. No wonder, Modi is in his 10th year of power in the state.

BJP’s other successful CMs’ case is more or less the same. Shivraj Singh Chouhan in Madhya Pradesh has more or less adopted the Modi model and elections after elections his govt. continues to be in power. Raman Singh too has re-written the growth story of Chattishgarh and also remains connected to the poor rural class. I have heard that Raman Singh, a doctor, continues to run his clinic to see patients on his free days for free of cost.

BJP must take note of these examples and plan its strategy accordingly. The only way to the power in New Delhi is by winning the Indian Vote bank (and not any specific religion, caste, region or income group’s votes) which is quite easy considering the anger among the general public. Presently, the ammunitions in the hand of BJP is more due to the Govt.’s inactivity than the opposition’s activity. It must get its acts together and start its preparations for the ‘Lotus Revolution’ in the 2014 from NOW.

Can BJP make Vajpeyee’s lines “Andhera Hatega. Suraj Nikalega. Kamal Khilega” true?