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Rahul’s stock rises, Modi’s on the wane

Rahul’s stock rises, Modi’s on the wane
Highlights

Having realised the underlying structural conditions that a rockier terrain presents ahead, the saffron party now seems to have decided not to go in for early elections Even the simultaneous elections will be restricted to the states where elections are due in April and the states like Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh

Having realised the underlying structural conditions that a rockier terrain presents ahead, the saffron party now seems to have decided not to go in for early elections. Even the simultaneous elections will be restricted to the states where elections are due in April and the states like Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

The BJP strategists seem to have realised that it cannot have a cake walk and a repeat performance of 2014 elections. In 2014 the BJP won about 75 per cent of seats from states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand etc. It bagged 216 seats from these states. In Andhra Pradesh, it worked with TDP which was its key alliance partner till recently.

But with two of its main allies, TDP and Shiv Sena walking out, and as no new coalition partners show interest in joining the NDA, the party strategists feel that the party’s performance this time would hinge largely on its ability to address issues like disappointing economic performance and the potential vulnerabilities and the opposition’s ability to exploit them.

In 2014, the main reason for Modi’s victory was Modi’s charisma. He was the most popular, nay the only popular leader then, and the slogan “Aab ki baar Modi Sarkar” did wonders for the BJP. Though the BJP leaders say that Modi charisma will work in 2019 as well, in heart of hearts they know that they have an uphill task. BJP may come back to power but with a reduced majority.

Indian voters are known to harbour anti-incumbency sentiments. Even if they hold Modi in high esteem for being non- corrupt, the performance of the individual members of Parliament would play a major role in deciding the fortunes of BJP. While in Telangana, the BJP has so far failed to match the strategies of TRS, in Andhra Pradesh, the Special Status Category issue has virtually struck an unrecoverable blow to the party.

Added to that, the BJP seems to be indulging in inflicting self-goals. The statements of the Union Ministers that they are ready to help Y S Jaganmohan Reddy to become Chief Minister substantiate the charge of the TDP that YRSCP has compromised state’s interest for self-interest.

States such as Odisha, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal continue to serve as a sort of fire-wall which the BJP may find it difficult to penetrate. The regional parties in these states enjoy strong ties to linguistic, regional, and cultural identities which the BJP currently lacks. In Maharashtra, the split with the Shiv Sena could create a three-way race.

On the other hand, survey reports indicate that the rating of Rahul Gandhi has risen from 14 per cent in 2014 to about 20 per cent now, the popularity of Modi has registered a fall from 37 per cent in 2014 to about 35 per cent now. Though the rise in Rahul Gandhi’s rating does not mean that he will be able to ensure that Congress comes back to power, it rings in alarming bells for the BJP as it stands to lose a good number of seats across the country.

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