Tuesday, September 27, 2011

If the General Elections happened today….

The PM raised the point yesterday that the NDA was out to destabilize the UPA government. I don’t know if the BJP wants an early election or not, but my own reading is that it doesn’t. If elections did happen right now, the BJP or the NDA would hardly be able to secure the majority it needs. Ideally, the BJP would like to continue attacking the UPA for another couple of years and in the meantime, it would like to clean up some of the mess in its own backyard before the 2014 elections.

I am not a psephologist and my note today is not based on swings, voting percentages, margins of wins and defeats in the last elections and other such technical stuff. It is entirely possible that I may be off the mark. My note today is based on what we generally see around the states, the condition of the political parties and the like. I may be off, but I am confident that I wouldn’t be off by too much.

If elections were held at this point, here’s what I think could possibly happen in the main states:

Andhra: Cong could lose as many as 15 seats (2009: 33) because of the split of Jagan from the Congress and the generally poor political situation the Congress finds itself in. Who would gain is a question mark. Jagan would surely take some of the spoils….but TRS and other Telengana parties could also pack in a punch if the Telengana emotion continues to sweep 42% of the population of the state. On the other hand, if the Telengana emotion dies down or is not as big as being made to look right now, then the TDP could gain because it has always stood against the bifurcation (or trifurcation) of AP. No matter what happens to the Congress, the BJP directly is hardly in a position to gain. Who would align with the NDA? Perhaps Jagan if the NDA has emerged strong nationally. Perhaps the TDP (yet again) – especially to keep the Congress out (the Left is hardly expected to do well). So the NDA might still gain, but not the BJP.

Bihar: The NDA has 32 of the 40 seats and I doubt if they will able to build on this number. Also, I doubt if the NDA will lose much since the alliance has done well in the state and Nitish carries a solid reputation….

Chhatisgarh: The BJP could lose as many as five of its present 10 seats, if not more given the corruption in the state and the general level of disenchantment with Raman Singh. The direct beneficiary would be the Congress.

Gujarat: In the Lok Sabha elections, the state has notoriously remained evenly divided – all through the strong Modi wave of the last 10 years. The BJP has 15 of the 26 seats and I doubt if there will be any change in numbers in Gujarat.

Jharkhand: The BJP is likely to lose 4-5 of its 8 seats in the present House. Direct beneficiary could be the Congress or the JMM.

Karnataka – The BJP would lose massively here. It would lose maybe 15 of its 19 seats given the scale of corruption in the state. Also, the BJP has done well in the state two times in a row and anti-incumbancy is bound to take its toll. Obviously, the key beneficiary will be the Congress – the margin of vote difference between the two parties being hardly 4-5%.

Kerala: The Congress could lose a few and the Left could come back with a few – given the trend seen in the latest state assembly election. From its current position of 13 seats out of 20, the Congress could lose 4-5.

Madhya Pradesh – Even though the state is evenly split between the Congress and the BJP, I feel the BJP could lose a few seats (it had 16 out of 28 in 2009) because of a series of scams including the revelation of India’s most corrupt IAS officer, the murder of Shehla Masood and the anti-incumbancy factor. Obviously, the beneficiary will be the Congress. I doubt though if the change of seats will be very significant. A few seats here or there maybe.

Maharashtra: The Congress has ruled the state quite poorly even though Prithviraj Chauhan’s induction has given the party a certain surefootedness recently. Also, the BJP/Shiv Sena combination remains in disarray – with a war simmering below the top bosses, the Gopinath Munde mess being part of the same. The role of Raj Thackeray continues to be a bugbear for the NDA.

Orissa – This is a state where the Congress could gain. The BJD currently has 14 of the 21 seats and given the mining issues, the villagers protests against POSCO and other similar matters, the BDP could lose and the Congress could gain as many as 5-6 seats. There is also the anti-incumbancy factor of the last two terms that one has to keep in mind.

Rajasthan – This has been a flip-flop state in the last two general elections. But the BJP appears to be a bit of a fractious party in this state. Also, the Congress has done reasonably well in spite of the recent communal flare-up. I think the Congress could lose 5 seats here from its present 20 (out of 25). The benefit would go to the BJP.

Tamil Nadu: From a current strength of 18, the DMK is bound to lose at least 10 if not more seats. From its current strength of 8, the Congress may not lose much – it has traditionally held on to 8-10 seats in the state. Collectively, the UPA could face its biggest threat in this state losing as much as 10-15 seats or so. The gains will obviously be to the AIADMK – and it is likely to join the NDA – as the regional party that rules TN typically tends to align with the victorious alliance at the center.

Uttar Pradesh – will be discussed towards the end. The state holds the key really!

West Bengal – The UPA will gain from its already strong position of 25 out of 42 seats as we have seen recently in the state assembly elections. The UPA could pick up an additional 5 seats or so.

And now finally coming over to the biggest state of them all! Uttar Pradesh, like I mentioned earlier, will hold the key to who rules at the center if elections were to be held now. The Congress has relatively less to gain, given its rather strong showing in 2009 (21 seats). The Land Acquisition Bill will be key to building a sentiment for the party. Also, the Muslim vote is likely to side with the Congress, given the disenchantment of the community with SP (after Kalyan Singh’s flip flop with the party – Kalyan Singh being the face of the Ayodhya pogrom). The BJP is unlikely to gain given the quality of its leadership in the state – it has had to revert back to Kalyan Singh and Uma Bharati – who can only whip up communal passions. But the communal card is unlikely to work any longer. The surprise winner could be BSP which has only 20 seats at the moment but which could swell that by another 10 seats – mostly at SP’s loss. A person who knows the state reasonably well tells me that Mayawati has actually done a lot of good work for the dalits. Now she is pitching for reservations for the Brahmins. If she wins, who will she align with? My belief is that she will either align with the NDA or support it from outside. Given Rahul Gandhi’s continued focus on UP, and given the intermittent support that Congress receives from the SP, it is obvious that the BSP will tilt towards the NDA. The point to be noted is that the BJP won’t gain in UP…..

In conclusion – given the state of the BJP across the country, it is unlikely to gain from the problems the Congress is facing. There is hardly a single state where the party can gain massively – none in reality (except Rajasthan where it could pick up a few seats). But there are states where it can lose massively – Karnataka (10 seats or more), Chhatisgarh (5 seats or more) and Jharkhand (4 seats or more). The Congress will lose massively in Andhra (15 seats or more), Kerala (5 seats or more), Rajasthan (5 seats or more) and Tamil Nadu (10 seats or more), but it will recover smartly in Karnataka (10 seats or more), Chhatisgarh (5 seats or more), Jharkhand (4 seats or more), Orissa (5 seats or more), West Bengal (5 seats or more) and Madhya Pradesh (4-5 seats) – by and large staying exactly where it is at present.

The sum total of all this is this. It appears that the Congress may be able to recover its losses in some states with gains in some other states. But the BJP will be unable to do so. Where the BJP loses, the Congress gains. But where the Congress loses, it’s the other parties – not the BJP – that gain. Of course, some of these parties could support the NDA – but if the core of the NDA, the BJP – is not strong enough, the regional parties may not be willing to join the NDA…..at best, they may support the NDA from the outside. What this means for the country is obvious – five more years of political instability.

The real truth is what I have said before. That the Congress may lose seats, but the BJP is unlikely to gain. The regional parties could gain…..and they could well support the NDA, but the BJP itself will not gain. The only factor that can change this drastically is the Anna factor. Whoever wins Anna’s support is likely to be a big beneficiary in the next polls. At present, the Congress appears to be on the losing side of this crucial factor. But if it can pass a decent Lokpal Bill, and do other things to curb corruption, and if it can contain the damage from the 2G case, it may still be able to ride out the storm. But if it fumbles, and if the BJP gets its act together in the states where it is in trouble, the tide can still change for the party…..It’s a fluid state of affairs right now!

1 comment:

  1. Ur calculation for UP is wrong... U have to watch the crime rate... and the prep SP is doing.... I am not sure how much they will succeed .. but they are working hard.... Mayawati always wins on the basis of candidate selection..... not on the development activities carried out by her...