Tag Archives: Congress

Circa 2019?

It is already May 2017 and exactly 3 years in to the new regime. Another 2 years to go when the country will be ready again to witness the ritual of selecting the Government at the centre. Whether BJP and Modi was able to fulfil the promises that they had made to the larger public or whether it was just a seasoned politician canvassing or perhaps was it bluster of an extremely confident and knowledgable man, it is a point that was being, is being and will be debated. Another important aspect that will come up for discussion in the various debates in numerous channels will be – Will he get the mandate in 2019? It is anybody’s call but there is something that has a good chance of happening, which is well within the Government’s purview if not the outcome of the elections i.e. when the elections are called. There is a good chance that it will not be a 2019 mandate but more of a May-August 2018 mandate. In all probability, BJP might look to advance the elections by a good 9-12 months. Why would BJP do such a thing? Why advance the elections by a good year or so? More so, when there has been a recent example of what happened to Theresa May and her party’s poor performance at the hustings?
First and foremost, the polity in India is such that whenever the incumbent is looking to get re-elected, it necessarily tends to fall in the abyss of appeasement. It is a foregone conclusion that the Government in power is expected to bring out doles in the form of tax sops, subsidies, loan waivers, favourable policies etc in order to woo the larger public. In effect, the Government in power gets transformed to lame duck, by default, for the last year, running up towards the elections. Knowing Modi and his aversion for benefit-spraying he will look to pre-empt this idea of being a lame duck. Modi comes across a person who doesn’t believe in being passive with issues and looks to take problems head on. Additionally, it just doesn’t suit the personality of a no-nonsense strong leadership to recede being in a lame-duck environment. Thus, by advancing the elections by a good year and by springing a surprise on everybody, he and others in the Government will be able to do their job.
There is another upshot of this idea. It is a clear as daylight that the opposition doesn’t stand a chance in the General Elections, if they fight separately. If the opposition were to fight under separate banners, it is without doubt BJP’s elections to lose. But, if the opposition were to unite under a single banner, then there is a good chance they might put up a stiff resistance to the BJP juggernaut never mind the thought of who will head the Government, if at all and when they are likely to get a majority. This ‘bringing together’ of the opposition would require a lot of prep-work, as there are some very many egotistical, fief-holders in the fray, who just cannot stand each other i.e. Congress can’t stand AAP, BSP and SP can’t see eye to eye and Trinamool and CPI will necessarily look to be on the opposite sides of the political spectrum. Thus, to bring such diverse and diametrically opposite personalities together will require a fair bit of time. A lot of time would be required perhaps to firm up the PM candidate – Will Rahul Gandhi fit the bill? If somebody else gets more seats then will Congress have the upper hand? So on and so forth. Alternatively, it works in BJP’s favour if the opposition remains opposed to each other. The opposition fights against each other, the votes get divided and BJP candidate goes through. By advancing the elections, BJP would again pre-empt this possibility. When the opposition is still sussing each other out – perhaps a year earlier to May 2019 – to form coalitions, BJP might just drop the General Elections bomb. The kind of personalities, acrimony and issues that the opposition has within itself would be difficult to overcome in a short span of time.
Lastly but definitely not the least of the reasons is that whenever a Government is looking to get re-elected, it tends to get on the defensive. So, if an incumbent is looking to get re-elected close to the re-election date i.e. May 2019, the narrative that the opposition tends to arrange is that of – What has the government done? Has the common man’s life improved? Are the citizens better of? Consequently, the narrative from the incumbent is in the defensive tone i.e. looking to answer most of the questions that are put through. But if an elected incumbent is looking to advance the election, it somehow is able to set a narrative around which the election can be fought. An assertive narrative of accomplishments, issues management, non-corruption etc can be arranged which then the opposition will have to counter. It is clearly pre-empting and turning the tables, so to speak in the narrative that gets out to the common man. It also tends to put the incumbent or perhaps creates a perception of the incumbent on a sure footing. A view that the incumbent can express is that why would they advance if they were so afraid to lose the elections. The act would also burnish the leadership qualities of Modi as an assured and a confident leader.
So perhaps, instead of a Circa 2019, it would well be a 2018 General Elections year.

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General Elections Plausible Outcomes

The mega show for the country i.e. the General Elections is in its final phase with the various parties batting hard in the final slog overs. The BJP with its prime ministerial candidate clearly has its noses in the front where as the Congress is reduced to has been. Perhaps and as many opinion polls predict, the Grand Old Party is going to have a hard time notching up even a 3-figure mark. All said and done these elections saw fiercely fought, no-holds barred, un-civilized words and even un-civilizing narratives. It was as if everything goes to get to 272.

But one has to admit that these elections were not like the previous elections ever. The magnitude, scale, narrative etc was distinct from other elections but then there are certain other aspects that clearly differentiate these elections from the ones that were fought before. There are certain outcomes/ideas that one notices that could portray the way the Indian political scene would be governed in the years to come.

Outcome 1: Clearly, BJP sought to establish these elections in the presidential format rather than the current parliamentary system that India has. It clearly pitched the strong, decisive and proven leadership of Narendra Modi against the oft-vacillating, somewhat pusillanimous and un-charismatic leadership of either Manmohan Singh or Rahul Gandhi. It is yet to be seen whether this strategy would pay dividends to BJP or not but it sure is evident that a presidential format strategy lends itself a wonderful opportunity to create a strong and credible narrative. On any given issue any political party is a function of the average viz. say on issue of corruption, any political party does include a person who is highly corrupt and along with includes a person who is highly incorruptible. The perception on that issue about the party generally hovers around the average. Thus the clear way forward is to subdue the people with wayward intentions and highlight the people with superior objectives. Thus when Modi says that for every button that you bleep against the lotus – the vote would directly come to me, the party is seriously trying to de-emphasize the negative aspects and personalities in the BJP and highlight the aura around one personality (necessarily the glaring difference between the singular and the plural). Going forward, one feels that to ask vote for an average i.e. a party is going to be much more difficult as compared to an ideal i.e. a person. Hence, chances are the presidential format for a parliamentary election would be the way ahead

Outcome 2: The Indian political scene is closely mirroring a developed democracy where in there are 2-3 principal parties going at each other in the General Elections. Most others are a part of one combine or the other. At the centre there is either a NDA or a UPA which generally forms the Government with the BJP or Congress being the principal party in the combine. The direction taken by the combine would be necessarily governed by the principal parties. The regional parties will tend to take sides and be part of either of the combine. To that extent, the Third Front is clearly a still-born concept

Outcome 3: BJP has a clear strong association of a Hindu-based party with a centre-right approach. Similarly, there is a clear vacuum in the political system for a similar such approach but with a strong association of a minority-based party. Most ‘secular’ parties – be it the Congress or the regional parties – which espouse the needs of the minorities, have been indulging in a rights-based approach. There have been dole-outs, subsidies and reservations but never ever the narrative arranged is the complete over-haul and development of the community. Perhaps, the rights-based approach works favorably for the ‘secular’ parties as a vote-bank politics but then the community as a whole receives very little. Gandhijji had once said that it doesn’t much matter to a person whether he genuflects before Mother Mary or Mother Kali as long as one of these helps him douse the ambers in his stomach. When the narrative changes to roti-rozgaar-kapda-makaan-shiksha surely the intolerant view about religion is bound to take a backseat. Just like nature, politics also abhors a vacuum and surely this space would see a fill-up

Outcome 4: It appears that the biggest loss in these elections would not be for the Congress (though chances are they wouldn’t even cross the 3-digit mark). In terms of the opportunity loss, one senses that the biggest would land at the door-step of Aam Aadmi Party. Just about a few months back the party which was the toast of the ‘aam aadmi’ so to speak has been summarily rejected and castigated by the same people. It appears that the AAP is bound to be restricted to at the maximum single-digit number in the Lok Sabha. Post the debacle in the General Elections and the ascent of Narendra Modi to 7 Race Course Road and more importantly the brouhaha in the Delhi Assembly if one were to extrapolate the results to the Delhi Vidhan Sabha elections (probably could be conducted in October/November 2014) BJP is most likely to get majority. If Narendra Modi would live up to its promise and oft-repeated one-liner ‘mein khata bhi nahi nah mein khaane deta hoon’ then in about half a decade’s time the raison d’être for AAP would be completely negated at least at the national level. Then there is a good chance of AAP to go through a thorough churning and most probably completely disband or reduce to a has-been on the fringes of the political scene restricted to a state or two. All of this if AAP chooses not to re-invent itself

Outcome 5: If the Grand Old Party is reduced to its worst ever performance (which is quite likely) then there is going to be a fierce round of blame storming. The family will desperately try to ring-fence and absolve itself of the blame though it would be extremely difficult and unnatural. There is a good chance that the party rank and file would bay for blood and Rahul Gandhi, logically would be the sacrificial lamb. Chances are that he wouldn’t also become the leader of opposition. Post this, if the family still would be looking to keep the fief then it is imperative that Priyanka is immediately pushed up the ladder or else there is bound to be an ambitious up-start who would claim the position. Contrarily, if the family is somehow able to ring-fence itself and absolve Rahul Gandhi of the blame then there is a high probability of a clear split in the Congress. There are very many ambitious and charismatic young leaders in the Congress who sense a de-facto glass-ceiling and hence would like to break away and form a small fief of their own. Being under an in-effective, unproven and more importantly failed leader would definitely bar them from giving wings to their ambition