Will Narendra Modi come back as Prime Minister?


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By Philip Mudartha
Bellevision Media Network

13 Apr 2019: The general elections to the 17th Lok Sabha have been announced. The Election Commission (EC) has scheduled them to commence on April 11 and end on May 19. The voting will be held in 7 phases, due to the special security needs of the country. The vote counting will take place on May 23 and the results will be announced on the same day.

 

Will Modi come back as Prime Minister?

In our Udupi-Chikkamagaluru constituency, as in the whole country, this question is on everyone’s lips: those who want him to get a second term and those who want him to go. Even a year ago, neither side doubted that the 2019 Lok Sabha election had already been decided – in his favor. But since then, much has changed. New political equations have emerged. Modi himself has lost the sheen. He, in privacy to his party workers, is reported to have said that he can no longer be expected to change the party’s fortunes single-handedly.

 

Losses in Hindi Heartland

BJP lost three Hindi heartland states, namely Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh in the recent Vidhana Sabha (VS) elections.  In all these three states, Modi is reportedly more popular than Rahul. The Prime Minister addressed rallies’ after rallies and left no stone unturned. These elections were the do or die for him and BJP. The opinion polls, exit polls, and popularity surveys were manipulated to show that the ruling dispensations of BJP will comfortably retain power. Alas! That was not to be!! Congress Party won all and formed stable governments with established state leaders as CMs, with limited interference from the High Command!

 

The loss of face in Karnataka 2018 assembly elections

The above stated losses happened on the heels of the loss of face in Karnataka in May 2018. The Karnataka loss has cost it its confidence and the ability of their sole star campaigner Modi to win votes! BJP emerged as the single largest party in the house with 104 MLAs (+66), but fell short by 9 to have a simple majority. Its tally improved from 40 MLAs in the outgoing assembly. That is actually a shot in the arm for a party trying to recapture its gateway to the south. Under normal circumstances, BJP would have performed an Operation Lotus 2.0 and staked claim to form the government, even as the Congress and JDS might have been bargaining for chips of power. But the Congress under Rahul Gandhi played a trick: it swallowed its pride of being the larger party in the post-poll alliance with 80 seats (-42) and nominated HDK, the JDS leader and son of JDS supremo HD Devegouda, the former Prime Minister, to lead the alliance government. With 117 MLAs of the post-poll alliance, the governor could not but ask it to form the government; which it did, with relatively less acrimony and bargaining for prime berths in the ministry. Two DCMs were created and given these berths to the Congress Party. Former CM Siddaramaiah, Senior Leader Parameshwara and D.K. Shivakumar, the party money bag, all played along, guarding a few MLAS whose loyalty was doubtful. BJP failed to lure 9 MLAs from the alliance stable.

 

Expert prediction was that the Cong-JDS alliance would collapse before the LS polls. But it has survived for 11months now and proved the pundits wrong. For Congress-JDS it is a fight for survival of the alliance government. For BJP, it is re-establishment of its control of its gateway to south India.  Rahul Gandhi rose admirably to the occasion and gave JDS 8 seats, retaining 20 for his party. Bear in mind that JDS had won only 2 in 16th Lok Sabha elections, in their bastions of Hassan and Mandya. Despite being in power in the state, the Congress Party had won only10 seats from their rural strongholds. It could not retain our home constituency of Udupi-Chikkamagaluru, which it lost to Shobha Karandlaje of BJP in 2014. Jayprakash Hegde, the sitting MP with good performance failed to retain his seat. Communal card and caste politics played out along with the Modi wave created in the country by his rabble rousing rallies!

 

The upswing of BJP in Karnataka since 2014 LS Elections

BJP had won 16 seats, including the prestigious seat of Bangalore South, from where Congress Party had fielded Nandan Nilakeni, the celebrity founder and Director of Infosys. He lost for 3 reasons: a) (Late) Ananth Kumar was a BJP money bag, b) all young IT guys and girl went on picnic instead of staying at  home and vote for their ex-boss Nandan! c) His opponent, Ananth Kumar, was a Kannada Brahmin which caste controlled this LS segment.

 

In 2019, the BJP is fighting solo in all 28 seats; with its money bags Sriramulu and G. Janardhana Reddy becoming MLAs in 2018 VS elections, having been released from jail on bail by NDA-2 (means Modi), but not fully exonerated in the Bellary Iron Ore Mining Scams, and Yeddyurappa being the shadow CM who is waiting to mount Lotus 3.0 as soon as exit polls are leaked on April 23, and Ananth Kumar dead and gone, the party will fall back on RSS and its sundry saffron booth activists to win as many seats as possible. Yet, I predict it to win not more than 10 seats, may even fall to 8 seats. (Both the coastal seats will be lost!)

 

An assessment of state wise prospects of BJP

 

No.

State

2019

2014

Description of 2014 in black, of 2019 in red fonts

1

Andhra

0

0

TDP=16 (Ally in 2014)  YSRC=7 (2019 post-poll ally?)

2

Arunachal Pradesh

 

2

1

(with local party as ally)

3

Assam

 

10

7

(With AGP as Ally). The angry Bengali vote may against BJP as reaction to Citizen Bill 2018. Then seats may be less than 10.

4

Bihar

 

14

22

+11 Allies. (JDU, joined BJP and its two former allies with hopes that its tally will improve to 17 from 2. Older allies, 2 of them, remain with NDA. In 2019 allies count 26, which is +13.

5

Chhattisgarh

 

4

10

Congress controls the state now since 2018 VS elections.

6

Goa

 

2

2

 

7

Gujarat

 

24

26

BJP is losing its marbles here but may want to see Modi as PM.

8

Haryana

 

6

7

+2 Allies. For 2019, same INLD may be retained. AAP is gaining ground.

9

Himachal Pradesh

 

3

4

(+2 allies). There is anti-Khanduri, CM, sentiment, may not want BJP again.

10

Jammu and Kashmir

 

3

3

Jammu is polarized towards Modi Hindus, Kashmir for angry Muslims.

11

Jharkhand

 

8

12

+2 Ally (+2 Ally)

12

Karnataka

 

8

16

BJP did better in VS elections but Cong-JDS came up quickly with welfare schemes. Plus Rahul is preferred over Modi in rural areas.

13

Kerala

 

1

1

Independent on BJP ticket

14

Madhya Pradesh

 

r

26

Bellwether state, can go either way

15

Maharashtra

 

q

23

+18 Ally, Shiva Sena and a small ally have been mollified. May get 23. Bellwether state.

16

Manipur

 

1

0

 

17

Meghalaya

 

1

0

+1 Ally

18

Mizoram

 

1

0

 

19

Nagaland

 

1

0

 

20

Odisha

 

0

1

+20 Ally (BJD). BJD will get all seats and play kingmaker.

21

Punjab

 

0

1

+4 Ally SAD. (+1 Ally, -3 for SAD as Congress has bounced back under its CM. He may not back Rahul for CM too)

22

Rajasthan

 

p

23

Bellwether state, can go either way

23

Sikkim

 

1

0

+1 Ally

24

Tamil Nadu

 

0

1

+38 Allies  (+4 Allies). AIADMK will see a wash-out, all oing to DMK. Strategic error by Modi-Shah like PVN did in 1996. The DMK with 34 seats may not ditch Rahul with 0 seats in TN.

25

Telangana

 

0

1

+2 Ally (New ally required). T. Chandrasekhar Rao, CM, will extract his pound of flesh, cunning man he is!

26

Tripura

 

2

0

 

27

Uttar Pradesh

 

s

68

+2 Ally (+2 Ally, new ally required) May have to chase Akhilesh or Mayawati with threat of IT raids and CBI cases.

28

West Bengal

 

4

2

It is Mamata-di all over.  Dump Modi, she is bargain for chips of power like DPM chair?

29

Andaman and Nicobar Islands

 

1

1

 

30

Chandigarh

 

0

1

 

31

Dadra and Nagar Haveli

 

1

1

 

32

Daman and Diu

 

1

1

 

33

NCT of Delhi

 

t

7

(must prevent AAP-Congress alliance). Carrot & Stick to Sheila Dixit of chasing 2G, Common wealth and other cases if she agrees to AAP-Cong tie-up. Bellwether state

34

Lakshadweep

 

0

0

 

35

Puducherry

 

0

0

 

Sum

 

98

 

75+(p+q+r+s+t)+ 60 allies

 

 

BJP should win (273-98=175) 175 seats from 5 bellwether states, namely Maharashtra, Rajasthan, NCT of Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. These states comprise of 189 LS seats. The strike rate of BJP with its allies Shiva Sena and Swabhimaan Party, Apna dal and INLD in UP & Haryana must be (`75/189=92.6%). This is impossible.

 

Cong-NCP alliance is robust and on upswing, probably a promise by Rahul to back Sharad Pawar for PM chair, this will see BJP losing at least 5 seats from the high of 23 out of 48 seats here...

 

In UP, the SP-BSP alliance is going to hurt BJP, along with the induction of Priyanka Gandhi into East UP politics. Most likely BJP and its ally will lose at least 30 seats to this combine, from the 2014 high of 70. That loss will be, say 35 seats out of constituency total of 80..

 

If Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh vote according to the 2018 assembly elections, which it is most likely not, because they may want to see Congress in the state capital and Modi at the center, yet getting 54/54 is impossible. The resurgent Congress, in power at the state may take at least 8 seats, leaving 46 or less seats to BJP.

 

The CT of Delhi is a strange animal. If the Cong-AAP alliance comes through, there may be progress on alliance in Haryana too.  In that case, AAP-Congress alliance will sweep all 7 seats of NCT Delhi. BJP and Modi are arm twisting Sheila Dixit with Saama, Bhedha, DanDA, the tact of carrot and stick to get her over-rule the alliance in Delhi. If Rahul Gandhi does not agree, she may cause internal trouble for Congress, causing benefit to BJP in Delhi. Including the effect on Haryana, I have considered BJP will lose at least 3 seats here, based on the premise that Sheila Dixit forgives Kejriwal and forgets past AAP insults.

 

So, the sum total of BJP will be (272- 51=221), falling short by 51 seats from the high of 2014. This is my prediction that when BJP gets 210-230 seats, there will be a party revolt fueled by LK Advani & Co against Modi-Amit Shah duo. New leadership may be elected or selected with senior old guard acquiring influence. It is similar to Indira Gandhi being tamed by old Guard after 1967 LS elections.

 

The NDA with old ally Biju Patnaik of BJD from Odisha with his 18 MPs and “converted” but secular left-of-center ally Nitish Kumar of JDU with his 15 seats from Bihar will hold the trump cards. With 35 seats between them, it is the tail wagging the dog!

 

Enter wild cards like Gadkari, Advani, Yashvant Sinha, Sharad Pawar, Chandrababu Naidu, Biju Patnaik, and Chandrasekhar Rao; all of them may like to hold their cards close to their chests but engineer revolt against Modi. In this tussle Sushma Swaraj may be recalled from retirement who may even win tacit support of Mamata Didi!

 

Let us wait for the next 44 days for the result. Also, weekly update of the above table is possible. And, more states vote and voting patterns are leaked to the media.

 

 

 

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