Na Mo wave is sweeping India; A BJP supporter can propagate the theory. Surely the brilliant planned campaign of RSS will bring the best electoral results for BJP but the drastic improvement from its best ever performance of 182 seats looks highly unlikely. From Patna, Lucknow, Kolkata, Chennai or Indore, the overall picture also looks different. In the course of channel surfing, the avid election watcher does linger longer on the manufactured Modi show beamed from the principal English and Hindi channels. But these images are not as overpowering as they tend to be in New Delhi or Mumbai. Smaller cities are reliable listening posts for the rural hinterland where the influence of the trunk route media declines. A conversation in the plush office of Indore’s powerful Hindi daily is much more down-to-earth, based on real figures. There are a total of 200 seats in Andhra, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Odissa, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Delhi, Arunachal, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Chandigarh and Pondicherry.
In this substantial chunk of India there is, at present, not a single seat with the BJP. In a Lok Sabha of 543, the party has 343 from which to coax a majority for the NDA. This is a feasible proposition except that pocket calculators are out in every constituency where alternative coalitions are being dreamed up. The party is certain to pick up few seats in Uttarakhand, Haryana but where else? But Modi story gets stuck in Tamil Nadu, Kerela, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal. In Bihar, Chattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, the BJP has a total of 66 seats out of a total of 126. It will probably add to its numbers here. UP, Rajasthan and Punjab account for 118 seats of which the BJP has only 15 at present. Will it double these seats or treble them? This is precisely where the BJP could grow exponentially if its ambitious project of social engineering succeeds. This entails saffronization of the lower castes. Will this project be to the liking of UP’s Brahmins who have been wandering from camp to camp in search of patronage and stability ever since their secure edifice, the Congress, collapsed in the late 80s. They shifted to the BJP imagining it to be the new parking lot for the upper caste. But the BJP at this stage was adjusting to the post Mandal commission caste politics. Kalyan Singh, a Lodh, became chief minister, much to the Brahmin’s chagrin.
He has over the years adjusted even to Mayawati’s blandishments. This time, if a section of Brahmins stays with Mayawati then her chances will be considerably boosted. It is of vital importance to Modi that this support somehow becomes available to the BJP. The Muslim vote in UP is drifting towards the BSP. But here too there is a complication. In every alternate seat one runs into the same unexpected campaigners, wearing an AAP cap and riding a two-wheeler. In a four-cornered contest, Muslims will vote in the following order of preference – AAP, BSP, Congress and Samajwadi Party. Never was the SP so much out of favour with Muslims in UP. They are punishing the SP for Muzaffarnagar just as they punished the Congress in Rajasthan for it callousness in Gopalgarh. The BJP will have to fight tooth and nail to improve its tally of 32 seats from a total of 90 in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Assam. The Gandhi family will be in deeper trouble if Uma Bharti and Smriti Irani are fielded from Rae Bareli and Amethi respectively. Congress workers in both these constituencies wait anxiously for Priyanka who remains absent. The lack of unity amongst the apex leadership of BJP is gradually demoralizing the cadre. The ticket distribution has opened up the scares in rank and file of BJP. Congress has decided to occupy the opposition benches to cool down the heat of decade long governance. The third and forth front remains a distant dream thought the key for next P M may remain with three Devi’s of Indian politics namely Jayalalitha, Mamta and Mayawati. The greatest unpredictability imposed on these elections is by AAP which has changed the terms of the game but whose own score will remain a total mystery until the votes are counted on May 16.
– Prashant Tewari, Editor-in-Chief