Lok Sabha polls: Suffering India hits back at 'shining India'

The BJP is expected to lose about 45–50 seats in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Bihar and Karnataka. Could it be curtains for the saffron brigade, then?

Have reports of the absence of a Modi wave got the Prime Minister uneasy? (photo: National Herald archives)
Have reports of the absence of a Modi wave got the Prime Minister uneasy? (photo: National Herald archives)


It is a measure of how spooked many of us are by the criminality of the current regime that it’s hard to even consider they might lose. It feels too optimistic, almost like wishful thinking.  

Despite knowing that mainstream media is comprehensively sold out, the fakery they ply day after day still has an impact on us. Even the more sincere journalists in mainstream media do not seem to suffice for the silent majority that cannot trust these sold-out entities. Too many no longer speak freely to the press, fearful of harassment by an ED-happy government.

However, there are reports that the ad revenues of many of the more 'patriotic' news channels and newspapers have gone down—for some, considerably lower—because of reduced viewership/readership.

This is also complemented by a spurt of increased viewership (running into millions) for many independent media outlets and citizen journalists operating independently on YouTube.

Ravish Kumar and Dhruv Rathee—who has shrugged off his earlier superficiality and half-baked analysis to put out more potent material now—have been around but are seeing a newfound surge in popularity. But there are also DB News (DB Live), 4PM, Ajit Anjum, Punya Prasun Bajpai, Abhisar Sharma, Deepak Sharma, the News Launcher (see the interview with Kumar Ketkar, in particular), Satya Hindi, the Public India (especially Anand Vardhan Singh) and others who brought diverse buried facts and perspective to the fore.

Overall, this non-aligned media (if you will) seem to infer—even with only the first three phases of a seven-phase election marathon having run their course—that the BJP is in serious trouble. And it's less than a month before we find out if they have got it right.

No one who says the BJP will win comfortably can find reasons beyond ‘the poor are very happy, they get ration’ or ‘the opposition has no money’ or ‘the top court and Election Commission is with the BJP’ or ‘India is more anti-Muslim than you think’. These are facile observations emerging from casual second-hand notions, or conclusions emanating from a temperament, not facts. 

Based on just the first two phases of polling, the sources mentioned above largely agreed that the BJP was already 20–30 seats behind its 2019 tally, with very little chance of making up this deficit in the forthcoming phases (having maxed out in many states in 2019).

The remaining phases can only deepen the sort of dunking that even EVM manipulation cannot rescue a party from, given the sheer scale of it.

Forget '400 <paar>' (and don't miss the echoes of 'India Shining' here), the BJP will be lucky to touch 200. 

In four states—now being dubbed ‘swing states’, namely, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Bihar and Karnataka—the BJP had won 89 of 141 seats in 2019.

This time, chances are the saga of Prajwal Revanna has destroyed whatever little hope the BJP had in Karnataka.

In Maharashtra, the 'originals' of the split Shiv Sena and NCP will show the BJP the sort of mirror they haven't hitherto seen in the Modi eraat least.

In Bihar, Tejashwi Yadav’s popularity is riding high, with Nitish Kumar’s credibility at an all-time low.

As for Rajasthan, a state where many don’t seem to know their current chief minister’s name, it looks deeply divided despite anti-incumbency having kicked the Congress in the teeth in the Assembly elections.

So, the BJP is expected to lose about 45–50 seats across these four states. If that's true, it's game over, folks.

The BJP's likely decimation in Kerala and Tamil Nadu won't surprise anyone. 'Dakshin saaf, Uttar half' is not a wishful slogan—it looks imminent.

Uttar Pradesh is not even needed to balance this equation, but even there, the Dalits are likely to vote against the BJP in large numbers because of the ludicrous ‘give us 400-plus seats to change the Constitution’ war cry from the BJP leaders—a bizarre call they hushed up when it looked like it had boomeranged (at least, before Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave it an all-new Babri twist more recently).

Not only did that line directly insult the Dalit communities' most important leader, Babasaheb Ambedkar—who is, of course, the father of the Constitution—but they also now see a possible Dalit prime minister in Kharge (who is the most likely PM candidate for the INDIA bloc, being in some ways, the P.V. Narasimha Rao of this century).

No, there is no wave for Modi in Uttar Pradesh; in some places, it appears to be the exact opposite.

There is talk of even Gadkari facing a shock defeat in Nagpur purely because of the Modi factor.

Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh are the only states where the BJP is likely to win with a large majority—and also why the blatant MP-buying machinations in Surat and Indore appear bizarrely pointless. But either way, the two won't get them very far.

The BJP has made so many blunders in such a short time, it is uncanny.

The saffron party's implosion almost appears engineered, observers in some quarters say, lending credence to rumours that their workers are really unhappy about sellout opposition leaders who defected and got priority over long-time loyalists.

In Rajasthan and UP, the lack of urgency and desire seen in the RSS cadre has been a hot topic of discussion (though not on mainstream TV channels, of course).

The following data points have also not been touched upon in the mainstream media, though they have been copiously discussed on the YouTube channels mentioned above:

The drop in voting percentage (never mind the EC trying to manipulate those figures) translates to 76 lakh less voters this time in the first phase. In every national election since 1977, whenever there has been a drop in voting percentage in the first phase, the incumbent has lost. Every time.

It's not even the nature of Indian democracy per se. Even if you count since 1957, in national elections overall (not just the first phase), the voting turnout decreased six times; the incumbent lost on four occasions.

The voting percentage increases usually when there is a wave (like we saw in 2014). Now, it is safe to say that there is no wave for the INDIA bloc either. However, by default, with so many disinterested former BJP voters not bothering to turn up, the advantage is clearly with INDIA now.

The mathematical superiority that a united Opposition would anyway have has played out, despite the many hiccups and the far-from-perfect consolidation.

It is indeed a historic election when the Gandhis vote for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi and the Thackerays vote for the Congress in Mumbai in their respective constituencies, due to seat-sharing arrangements.

Add to this the consolidation of a 10-year anti-incumbency wave (which has been a thing worldwide, for a century).

Add also the uncanny sequence of things that have gone wrong for the BJP in just a few weeks: the biggest financial scandal in India’s history (electoral bonds) and the biggest sexual abuse scandal ever uncovered (Prajwal Revanna), for starters.

Then there are the ridiculous blunders the BJP seems to keep making. Trying to lock up two sitting chief ministers and freezing the biggest Opposition party’s bank accounts on a ludicrously flimsy pretext does not make for a good confident look, and smacks of some desperation.

The coincidental timing of the AstraZeneca ‘revelation’ is uncanny (though it is not really a particularly new thing, just that the press has picked it up and run with it), for Modi’s photo is just now being removed from Covid certificates. (India is the only country in the world anyway where any government head's mugshot graces medical certificates.)

Perception is everything today—and everything is coming together for a perfect storm, every element seems to be complying towards a greater design.

There are reports that in the absence of a Modi wave, it is local and everyday issues that are becoming the main factor for voters in this election. 

The 50-year-old ‘Misery Index’—a measure of economic distress felt by people due to the risk of (or actual) joblessness, combined with an increasing cost of living—has acquired significance.

Then, there is the revulsion every Indian should feel when the prime minister blatantly rakes up communal disharmony in his speeches.

Incidentally, Modi's approach was actually predicted on DB Live the day before the first phase of voting: 'The PM’s first speech will be like an exit poll.' Prophetic words?

The third phase of voting on 7 May, many volunteer, may have indeed rendered this election a formality, so far behind will the BJP fall.

The remaining phases will then become some sort of insurance against manipulation of results, practically impossible on the scale necessary to change the outcome.

Perhaps the BJP’s only hope now is to instigate large-scale communal riots and declare a state of Emergency—the Balakot of 2024.

Is that what the prime minister of the world’s largest democracy is up to with his latest speeches? In front of the whole world?

Then again, if the genocide in Gaza is allowed to happen in front of the whole world, perhaps this is no big deal.

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