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Magical 270! - Pramod Kumar - The Sunday Indian
 
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Sunday, December 17, 2017
 
 

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Magical 270!

 

The number game has begun with BJP confident of crossing the magical figure of 270 seats. TSI’s Pramod Kumar does an incisive analysis on who apart from BJP could be the lynchpins in the Great Indian Election Race of 2014
PRAMOD KUMAR | Issue Dated: April 20, 2014, New Delhi
Tags : Narendra Modi | Arvind Kejriwal | Nitin Gadkari | Sonia Gandhi | Rahul Gandhi | Prakash Karat |
 

Scene 1: When the Congress’ official candidate from Gautam Budh Nagar, Uttar Pradesh, jumps ship and shifts to BJP, the confidence of the Modi-for-PM lobby thunders up. Anant Kumar, sitting in the BJP war-room, speaks out loud how no one can stop Narendra Modi from becoming the Prime Minister, “We will cross the magical figure of 270. The nation will not have to work too hard to give Modi the reins, as the last ten years of Congress’ maladministration has left the public quite disappointed and disinterested in another Congress government.”

Scene 2: At 12, Tughlaq Road, there is quite a sense of despondence at Ramesh Tomar leaving the Congress, as one important seat has gone into the BJP fold without even a fight. With the horse having bolted, the attempt being done now is to find out the person who recommended Tomar’s name for the ticket in the first place. There is also rising disappointment at the increasing number of crowds being seen at Modi's speeches. There is one growing thought that Congress should compromise and take the assistance of all its old partners to form a government. Because if the BJP were to come to power, then Rahul Gandhi would not have much to do except making the alliance stronger for the namesake and undertaking talent hunt sessions within the youth.

Scene 3:At the Gole Market central office of CPI(M) in New Delhi, the party’s General Secretary Prakash Karat gets a surprising phone call from a Congress General Secretary hailing from Uttar Pradesh, who is amongst the most trusted by the Gandhi family. During the call, Karat is invited for discussions to finalise post-poll equations. The two leaders meet in the backgrounds of Teen Murti, New Delhi, and discuss how BJP could be stopped from coming to power, one way or another. Karat says that if, based on numbers, the Congress party is not headstrong on the PM nominee, then one could think of the Third Front. The Congress General Secretary asks Karat, trite sarcastically, why the Left is not attempting to lead the formation of the new government, at the same time hinting that Mulayam Singh Yadav for all he's worth should not be proposed for the PM’s post.

It is in the month of May, when the Suns heat is at its worst, that the 16th Lok Sabha would be convened. But the political heat over the whole issue is already reaching its peak. Political biggies are fighting tooth and nail to ensure that their respective parties get the maximum seats, so that they get the majority say in deciding who the Prime Minister of the world's largest democracy will be. Modi and Rahul Gandhi are the frontrunners in this race. Modi believes that given the efficiency with which he has managed to get more or less all leaders in his party to follow his line of thinking, there is a high probability that he could succeed. Congress party members also do realize that if the crowds at Modi's rallies are any evidence, then only something special can stop Modi from becoming PM; so what if that 'something special' may be the Left.

But it's not as if the Congress has extreme confidence on the Left. Congress very well remembers how, by withdrawing support on the nuclear deal, the Left had seen to it that the Manmohan Singh government had fallen. It’s another story that UPA-2 went ahead to form the government with a stronger base, and the Left has almost but been wiped out of West Bengal. They say that there is no permanent enemy in politics. And neither is there any permanent abstinence from any person. Therefore, the same Congress which used to curse the CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat, now wishes to discuss with him political strategies that could be implemented in the event of NDA not being able to form the government due to any reason whatsoever.

CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury tells TSI, “Whatever information is emerging of the current Lok Sabha election results, one can safely say that it would be the Third Front that would be able to make the government in the Centre, and CPI(M)’s role in the same would be extremely significant.” He additionally adds, “The language that Gujarat's Chief Minister Narendra Modi and his confidante Amit Shah are using, has brought the whole society to a point of being divided irrevocably. The chasm between minority and majority voters, instead of reducing, is widening. Ergo, votes would get divided and only a secular party would be successful in forming a government at the Centre. In other words, the Congress-Left combine, Samajwadi Party and other secular parties would join hands to form a government.”

One can't be sure how true Yechury’s forecast would be, but this is definite that the Leftists have again taken centre stage, perhaps not by design, in the political games that are being played out for grabbing power at the Centre. Congress leader Pankaj Sharma tells TSI that the way votes are being polarized, all efforts are on to ensure that BJP does not come to power at the Centre; and in these efforts, the Congress and the Left parties may stand united.

Samajwadi Party's Naresh Aggarwal also believes this could be true, and shares with TSI, “I am in complete agreement that only secular parties will be able to form a government at the Centre. Irrespective of courts' decisions favouring Modi, it has become deeply entrenched in the psyche of the common Indian that Modi’s political governance model is not to unite but to divide the society. If in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, the minority section voters (who in fact hold a significant majority) vote against BJP, then how will BJP get the magical figure of 270?”

The seats which Naresh Aggarwal is referring to – where he expects Modi to suffer losses – are the very seats where team Modi has gone the extra mile to ensure that no such thing happens. While UP's Gautam Budh Nagar is already under Modi’s grasp (with the Congress candidate jumping over to the BJP bandwagon), in the remaining seats in UP and Bihar, Modi has brought out his full force. If one were to go by sources, then for the sensitive seats in UP and Bihar, Modi has handpicked from Gujarat those who originally belong to UP to canvass and manage the said electorates – and RSS has additionally sent in a huge force in both these states for supporting Modi. In UP, these groups are under the close supervision and command of Modi’s confidante and political supervisor, Amit Shah. UP is being handled personally by Sushil Modi (who is allegorically know as Sumo, to Modi's Namo acronym).

Congress does realize that in UP, the Congress does not stand anywhere much against BJP. The main reason, as some analysts tell TSI, is that the electorate in UP is not able to forget the wrong policies of Congress. Price rise and unemployment are two factors that lead to much indignation in the Hindi heartland. Many Congress members themselves admit that the assurances of employment and a better future given by Modi to the youth in various meetings and speeches have left the majority of those youth very excited. Congress is very worried that the youth voters, despite Rahul Gandhi’s various assurances, are not preferring the Congress. Although the state President of Congress, Nirmal Khatri, quite confidently mentions that Rahul Gandhi is “an icon amongst the youth. Rahul is trusted considerably by the youth; and this fact will be known when the election results come, whether the youth of the state believe Modi’s fake dreams or Rahul's transparency.”

As is evident, while each party is attempting hard to get the youth voters, Congress, realizing that it’s losing precious ground amongst the youth electorate, not only has remodeled its election manifesto after learning a lesson or two from Modi's manifesto, but also has strategically leaked out through an important Congress functionary (through an interview in a daily newspaper in the Hindi heartland) an indication that even Priyanka Gandhi might actively jump into politics. If there was a special reason to plant this information, then it is this that if there was any disappointment within the youth because of Rahul, then Priyanka’s name might stop them from voting against the Congress. Although senior leader Janardhan Dwivedi says to TSI, “My words were wrongly interpreted to purport that Priyanka Gandhi is entering active politics during these elections itself. I had only mentioned that she shows quite an interest in politics. This was told to me by none other than the late Sh. Rajiv Gandhi himself. And as far as Priyanka's entry into active politics goes, that is purely her personal decision.”

BJP is contending that once Modi comes to power, the issue of youth unemployment will be tackled with the utmost priority. BJP has based this contention on an internal survey, where they found out that within the youth, a particular image of Modi has already set in – that as Modi has ensured Gujarat’s progress, he will also ensure through his experience that the nation also progresses on a new growth chart. On the other hand, apparently, the youth is a bit distrustful of Rahul's claims as they feel that he is low on administrative experience. BJP’s Senior member Rajeev Pratap Rudy mentions to TSI, “If seen comparatively, Narendra Modi has a stronger position; Rahul Gandhi does not stand in front of him on any grounds. To the extent that any and every survey that has come has shown Narendra Modi as being far ahead than Rahul in the race to the PM's post.”

BJP's has a scrutinizing eye on each and every activity of the Congress. After Congress’s confidential meeting with Prakash Karat, BJP's leaders have spread far and wide to rope in the assistance of erstwhile sympathisers and supporters of BJP, aka leaders like Naveen Patnaik and Mayawati (who have been apparently requested to be present or absent during crucial Lok Sabha votes as per BJP’s preferences); and people like Chandrababu Naidu are already openly supporting BJP.

In essence, what is clear is that until the full election results come in, there is no saying which party will stand a chance to form a government. Yes, all feedback being received points to BJP’s strengthening hold on the electorate. But there’s no doubt that individual players will play more crucial roles than ever before in assisting the formation of the new government and in ensuring that the party in contention reaches the magical figure of 270.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017