The seven phase elections to the Lok Sabha begin on April 11 and in the next 39 days till May 19, it will be a mega celebration of democratic rights by the Indian people. Many political pundits in TV channels and in national media have given their verdict that the national security and the nationalism is the major poll issue before the electorate and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already won his battle against the opposition by sidelining the issue of day to day living which was the focus before the Pulwama attack and the eventual Indian strikes at Pakistan’s Balakote terror camp on February 26.
Only three weeks have passed after the Balakote strikes. Without going into the controversy over the figure of terrorists actually killed, the fact remains that the Indian Air Force showed its gallantry by going inside the Pak territory and returning safely after bombing the camp. Hats off to the valiant soldiers of the IAF who accomplished the task. Our Prime Minister certainly can take some credit for the fact that he was able to instill some confidence in the Indian people through this IAF action. Rightly, the common people were energized and there was a sweep of nationalist sentiments.
But why the Prime Minister and his party BJP will be getting the full capital of this sentiment in the coming Lok Sabha elections when in all other parameters which concern the livelihood of the people, the PM and the BJP have failed miserably. Is the external security issue vis a vis Pakistan in a position to obliterate the day to day insecurity of the minorities in the country including the dalits and the OBCs? PM is in the midst of rigorous poll campaign in the states focusing on how the country is safe in the hands of him and his party the BJP by exploiting the valour of IAF patriots.
But does that help any way the unemployed youth in lakhs throughout the country who are looking desperate as they are seeing no hopes for generation of new job opportunities. Despite the propaganda over new job creation figures by the government agencies, the precarious labour situation following the disastrous impact of demonetization in November 2016 and the shoddy implementation of the GST, is haunting the Hindi speaking states where the BJP gained maximum in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
As the election campaign gains momentum, despite all the efforts of the PM and the ruling dispensation to emphasise in a stable government under Modi who can teach Pakistan a lesson, the real issues of livelihood will come to the fore and force the Indian electorate to judge candidates on the basis of his/her own experience.
The consistent efforts of the saffron camp to foist the India-Pak issue as the principal one by passing the day to day issues, will not succeed and that is where the opposition parties have to show their skill in seizing the opportunity.
The ground reality is that in a polarized political scenario, in some states, where the Congress is the main party fighting BJP, smaller parties may not matter, but in big states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the full mobilization of anti-BJP votes matter
In India, next eight weeks till May 19 are quite long and the post Feb 26 euphoria is sure to be replaced by strong common sense about the issue of the present and future. The Congress and the regional parties have to go all out to expose the performance of the Modi government to the electorate and present the alternative for improving their lives. For the Congress, the 2014 poll results were their lowest and for BJP, the 282 figure was an abnormally high one.
In 2009 Lok Sabha elections, BJP got 116 and its real strength is around this figure. In 2009, the Congress got 206.The Party can surely aspire to come near this figure from its lowest of 44 in 2014, if proper actions are taken to restore the lost seats in its traditional citadels and a tactical understanding is reached with the regional parties to avoid division of anti-BJP votes in some marginal seats.
The ground reality is that in a polarized political scenario, in some states, where the Congress is the main party fighting BJP, smaller parties may not matter, but in big states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the full mobilization of anti-BJP votes matter. Similarly, the regional parties can deal with BJP in some states on their own, with or without the support of the Congress.
For reducing the number of BJP’s existing seats from 282 to 160, Congress has to focus on MP, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Haryana, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. In Bihar, the Congress-RJD alliance must ensure reduction of 10 seats for BJP and in Jharkhand, the BJP’s seats have to go down by 5. Similarly, the target should be that BJP is forced to lose seats by 4 in Haryana, 7 in Karnataka,13 in Madhya Pradesh, 8 in Maharashtra, 15 in Rajasthan, and if possible 6 in Delhi through alliance with the AAP. The most important is UP where the BJP got 71 seats on its own.
This can be scaled down to less than 20 if the Congress can reach some tactical understanding in the marginal seats to avoid splitting of anti-BJP votes. This UP strategy is very crucial in bringing down BJP seats in 2019 Lok Sabha. As per this calculation, the BJP should lose 122 seats by making the Party number in new Lok Sabha to 160.
In fact, if BJP crosses the figure of 180 on its own, it will be very difficult to stop BJP from forming the new Government. The Party has massive resources and it will make all efforts to persuade the fence sitting regional parties to join its coalition.
The time is still there for the Congress and the anti-BJP regional parties to stitch viable alliances to the maximum extent possible and enthuse the people through programme for economic and social revival. The howlers in our TV channels or the corporate media are not the deciders in 2019 poll. The Indian masses will be voting on the basis of their experience in last five years. That is the spectre that is haunting PM Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah despite their heroics in public meetings.