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Why are the "2019" elections not "2004" for BJP?

by Suyash - Apr 11 2019 5:42PM

General elections 2019 has begun, #2004Redux seems extremely unlikely when the more deserving party or the lesser of the evil party (depending on the way you see it) was voted out of power in a surprising display of results.

Although the Congress Ecosystem hailed it is a Grand victory of Sonia Gandhi, in reality, Congress won meager 7 seats more than BJP, far short of a majority. Lower voter turnout, summer heat, and drought, complacence/overconfidence of BJP strategists and foot soldiers were some of the reasons why Congress was able to manage a slender lead. However the biggest reason of them all was that for the 1st time in History, Congress followed NDA 1 (1998) and NDA 2 (1999) model of pre-poll alliances and stitched formidable alliances in key states of Tamil Nadu (DMK, MDMK, CPM, CPI PMK etc), Andhra Pradesh (TRS), Bihar (RJD, LJP), Jharkhand (JMM, RJD), Jammu Kashmir (PDP). This was enough to beat BJP in its own game of pre-poll alliances which had ruled for 2 terms at the back of its alliance winning almost 130 seats. BJP's own tally was down by 40 seats but its alliance partners shrunk even further.

#FF 2019 - Why 2019 does not seem to replicate 2004 and is more likely to replicate 1999 (BJP falls short of a majority but with allies is well above 300) or 2009 (Ruling party coming back to power with even more decisive numbers) is due to below reasons.

1. Pre-Poll Alliances - While Congress was busy talking about united opposition (a group of rank opportunist parties, united by ideas of corruption and extremism), BJP silently stitched an alliance with over 25 regional parties and executed seat sharing without any fuss even with hostile allies like Shiv Sena. Congress, on the other hand, mismanaged the process even in a winnable state like Karnataka, with rival candidates cutting JDS to size and ensuring BJP's tally to be equal or higher than 2014. Even in a state like Tamil Nadu, where it was believed that Stalin will win all 39, a formidable pre-poll alliance has ensured that NDA gets at least 1/4th of the seats and maybe half or even more, with BJP itself in serious contention in at least and up to 4 seats.

2. Ecosystem - This is probably the 1st time when 3.5 Hindi news channels and 2 English news channels are openly supporting BJP. Possibly some regional news channels as well. Pre-2014, such a privilege was available only to Congress and allies when well-known news anchors behaved more loyal to Sonia than Congress' own spokespersons. The balance has shifted. A group of sick artists from Bollywood campaigned for Congress by running an agenda based campaign, something which they did even in 2014. However this time, their campaign was met by a counter campaign of 900+ well-known artists from different areas, who openly canvassed for BJP. BJP has its parallel ecosystem to counter the misinformation wars, something it missed in 2004.

3. Geographic growth - BJP has only grown in East (West Bengal, Orissa, North East) and even in Kerala where the party is most likely to win 1 seat (Champu Tharoor most likely to lose), maybe 3 as per surveys from local news channels which are pro-Left. WB and Orissa may most likely throw up seats in double digits while North-East may add another 10. All these may be enough to neutralize any loss in North India. Barring Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, BJP is likely to win seats in all the states with more than 1 MP.

4. A series of rights - Immediately after the shock loss of 3 states, PM Modi ensured to take corrective measures. 10% reservation for Economically poor (a small step to counter the support for draconian SC-ST act which sunk them in MP and Rajasthan), Major Tax relief to Middle class during budget long with UBI to poor farmers. Finally, a strong response to Pakistani terrorist groups via the Balakot airstrike brought back Modi's image. In a way, these 3 states loss, acted as a blessing in disguise.

5. Momentum - In the last 6-7 years, neutral and swing voters have sided with the group, which appears to be the most likely winner. In Jan 2004, NDA was predicted to win 340 and in each subsequent surveys, the number came down, till 240 in May with actual results throwing a worse figure. It was a sliding momentum. 2019 is replicating 2014 in this aspect. After the 'expected' loss in 3 states, NDA was pegged to win 230 by major polling agencies and the number is up to 270 now. As time flies by, the momentum is only going to be in their favor.

At this point BJP comfortably sits at 250+ and NDA (with 25+ allies) at 310+ and given the nature of elections in last 7 years (winner takes all), there is only 1 direction this number can go to.

Of course, Indian elections can be very unpredictable and the voters have a tendency of surprising everyone, but largely this is the direction we are headed to.

#VoteWisely

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