Saffron Rise In The East

A couple of years ago, could anyone have imagined a colour, which is not red, trending in Bengal? Well, saffron is the new colour of politics in Bengal. Three years ago, when the Mamata Bannerjee led Trinamool conquered the Writers’ building in Kolkata and ended years of Left rule, no one would have imagined that the Left would become a non-entity in the next Assembly Election. Even fewer would have imagined that it would be BJP challenging the TMC.
It all started a few months ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. The Panchayat elections in West Bengal had washed away the Left parties from the rural areas. The elections had also shown the people that TMC is no different from the Left. Bitter fights took place during the Panchayat Elections, blood was drawn, Left party offices were burnt by TMC workers, tempers of both the cadres were high, violent clashes took place outside the polling booths, hundreds of people were forced to abstain from Voting. Bengal realized that no “Poribartan” had taken place. But there was no alternative. Then the chit fund scam took place and the groundswell of anger against the Mamata Bannerjee led TMC govt. started rising.
The declaration of Narendra Modi as the prime-ministerial candidate of the BJP, gave fresh lease of energy to the BJP cadres.
As Narendra Modi started campaigning, the RSS strengthened in West Bengal. The number of BJP workers was increasing. Soon BJP grew confident enough to hold a Narendra Modi rally in the massive Brigade Parade Ground. And more astonishingly, most parts of the ground were filled with supporters. Modi, knowing of BJP’s weak base in Bengal, didn’t attack Mamata Bannerjee. But as the ground reports got more and more positive in nature, BJP changed its course. And this changed the course of the politics in West Bengal.
BJP became a bitter rival of the TMC, its numbers sored high, Didi was referring to BJP more than Left in the speeches. The infiltrator-refuge issue was voiced again and provided new base to the BJP. BJP and RSS went from strength to strength in Bengal and got an unimaginable 17% vote share.
The BJP had built a base in West Bengal and capitalized on it to win a seat on its own in the recent bypolls, a feat it had never reached in its history. Now, it is not the left, but the “Right of Centre” BJP that is challenging the TMC regime proving the age old saying that “Politics is the game of uncertainties”. 2016 is going to write a new chapter in the politics of West Bengal.


UPA-2 Govt didn’t fell on May 16 2014, it fell on August 16 2011

Everyone predicted a rout for the Congress, but no one predicted the extent of the rout. A below 100 tally was on cards, but a tally below 50 was completely unexpected. Congress didn’t even won a single seat in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Odhissa, Delhi and Goa. In Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, it won just 2 seats and just one in Chhattisgarh. Its highest seats came from Karnataka and Kerala, which too were in single figures. Not just the Congress, all parties that showed inclination towards the Congress fell hard. The NCP won just 4 seats in Maharashtra and two elsewhere, Left parties were reduced to minor players in Bengal and Kerala, DMK failed to win a single seat, YSR Cong did worst than many anticipated, RJD won just four seats and JDU just 2, BSP and NC drew a blank where as SP won just 5 seats. Every party that showed inclination towards Congress failed to win the trust of the electorate. Where as, parties which showed inclination to support a BJP led NDA won big. AIADMK won 37 seats in Tamil Nadi, BJD won 20 seats in Odhissa and TMC won 34 seats in West Bengal. This showes that people were not only disillusioned by the Congress, but all Congress minded parties that did the politics of Secularism-Communalism

The foundation of such anger was laid by the Anna Hazare led anti-corruption movement in 2011. Scams after scams were coming in the public domain and the government was in denial mode. The opposition was weak and Congress took the scams lightly. But the people didn’t. The Anna Hazzare movement gave people a platform to express their anger. People took leave from their jobs, sacrificed time which they would have spent with family, to protest against corruption. The Congress and other like minded parties took this for granted as the next election was more than three years away. What they didn’t understand was that this movement would be the foundation of their rout. The moment Congress arrested Anna Hazare, people decided to end the Congress government. Every hour Anna Hazare fasted, more and more people started changing their alligience. Every remark Congress made against the movement, opposed the people against the Congress. Congress thought corruption would have affect only the Urban population, but all its calculations were flawed. The base was created and Modi built his victory on this base. People had decided long ago to oust the Congress and Congress – minded parties long before the election was declared, only pressing the button on the E.V.M was left. And once this formality was done, the Congress and the Congress minded parties were swept away from the political landscape of India.

Is Narendra Modi knocking on the door of 7 RCR?

After a lengthy election process, the future of the country is sealed and the Exit Polls are out. I write this blog after all the Exit Polls are out. The exit polls are unanimous on the issue of NDA forming the next government. Some exit polls are predicting an outright majority for the NDA where as others predict that NDA is shouting distance away from majority. Exit polls have been incorrect in the past, but have most of the time hinted at the way the country is thinking. The ground reports too speak of a possible Congress rout and BJP surging past its highest tally. Even if NDA does not reach 272, it is spoilt for choice as numerous parties like AIADMK, BJD, YSR Congress, TRS, et cetera would be ready for giving outside support to NDA. So if BJP gets 190+, we can safely consider that the next govt. would be a Modi Sarkar.

Now the question is how will the results affect the Congress Party? We can safely assume that the Congress Party is no where near winning this election. Congress will decide its future course according to the tally it gets. If Congress gets 115+ M.P.’s, it will try to form a government with the help of regional parties but if its tally is 100-, as predicted by various exit polls, then the Congress would prefer to sit in the opposition benches nor would it be able to form any government with such a low tally. If Congress sits in the opposition benches, the next important thing for Congress, to make a comeback would be the Assembly Elections in Maharashtra and Haryana which would be held later in the year. But one thing is sure, the blame of defeat would be put on Manmohan Singh by the Congress leaders.

If NDA forms a stable government at the centre, the role of the regional parties would be limited in the Lok Sabha. But regional parties would still be important if BJP decides to act on its core issues of article 370 and Uniform Civil Code. The RSS would too have an important role in the government.

It would be interesting to watch who will be the third largest party in the Lok Sabha- TMC , AIADMK or Left?

Only states where Congress can hope to win substantially

The first few rounds of voting has finished and voters in more than 100 constituencies have expressed their loyalties in the EVMs. In areas which were polarized and the areas which were in news for the wrong reasons, the voting percentage was quite high. The next big round of voting is going to happen soon and different parties are going to look at this phase with different expectations.

For the Congress, it is all about limiting the damage and retaining some respect. The Congress Party is hoping to win 114+ seats to maintain its credibility. But many in the Congress Party too would not believe that Congress could touch the figure of 115. The Congress is in free fall in most of the states and the only states where Congress has the chance to win a substantial tally are Kerala, Telangana, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Assam and Punjab.

In Kerala, the Opinion Polls suggest that Congress has the edge but the Left is not too far behind. The Left front’s campaign has picked momentum and many believe it may have equalled the Congress, or have gone ahead. But the state has already voted and 16th May will tell the final result.

In Telangana, Congress has an electoral plank to fight election on. It will portray the state as a gift from Sonia Gandhi and will try to gain on the emotional pitch of Telangana. But, with the TRS disagreeing to have an alliance with Congress, Congress may not be able to clean sweep the state. The BJP – TDP alliance too would be in a good position in Telangana and could win a couple of seats.

Karnataka is a tricky issue for seat predictions. In the recent Assembly Elections, the Congress won impressively and the BJP was wounded fiercely. This state has a history of voting against the wave in the rest of the Country. After winning the Assembly elections, the Congress would have planned to win 20 plus seats in Karnataka. But BJP played smart and today is in a position to win more seats than Congress. With the reinductment of Lingayat strongman, B S Yeddyurappa, the BJP has gained in the state and with the Modi wave, the BJP is expected to be in double figures. But the Congress can still expect to win a respected tally.

In Maharashtra, the NCP-Cong alliance is in sharp decline and the NDA can win majority of the seats in Maharashtra. With Raju Shetty joining the NDA and MNS not fielding candidates against BJP, the UPA’s tally would certainly fall. But the fall is considered to be steeper with the NCP than the Congress. The Congress hopes to win due to MNS cutting in the BJP-SS Yuti vote and if it wins 10 seats, it would consider it has done a very good job.

In Assam the Congress is in a good position due to popularity of its CM Tarun Gogoi and due to absence of unity in the opposition. The failure of BJP to have an alliance with AGP will benefit the Congress, but BJP has gained ground in Assam and has a good chance of retaining and expanding its earlier tally of 4 Seats. Still, the Congress, for a change, would be in poll position in Assam.

Punjan is in a similar state as it was before the 2012 Assembly elections. No one can predict whether BJP-Akali Dal will win more seats or Congress. Opinion polls are also divided on this issue. But with senior leaders in the fray, Punjab Congress cadre has shown enthusiasm and the fight in this state is too close and can tilt either way.

In rest of the states, Congress is looking at a rout and may lose its dominance in terms of seats won.
Mission 114 plus would be tough for Congress and it would not surprise many if Congress wins less than 100 seats.

Arvind Kejriwal fighting against Narendra Modi would actually help Narendra Modi

Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) has already declared its Prime Ministerial Candidate – Narendra Modi’s candidature from Varanasi seat of Uttar Pradesh. This has created much buzz among the political class of Lucknow as well of New Delhi. BJP is traditionally powerful in Varanasi and with the political momentum, Narendra Modi has gained in UP, it will take a miracle to defeat Modi in Varanasi. Arvind Kejriwal seems to rise up to the task of challenging Modi in Varanasi, considered by many as a political suicide.

I believe Arvind Kejriwal’s posturing against Modi in Varanasi, will help BJP in UP and ultimately all over the country.

Arvind Kejriwal is attracting anti-traditional parties vote. BJP is fine with Kejriwal attracting Anti-BJP vote as it will spilt the anti-BJP vote among various parties, but the damage that Kejriwal is causing to BJP is the anti-congress electorate that is shifting towards him. This electorate is disillusioned with the Congress party and would have gone with the BJP in the absence of Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The division of anti-congress vote harms the prospects of BJP.

But there is a different angle to the scenario that would unveil if Kejriwal fights against Modi.

If Kejriwal fights against Modi and is successfully able to position himself as Modi’s main challenger, he will attract the anti-Modi vote, mainly Muslim votes from UP. This will help BJP to strengthen its position in UP.

The Upper Castes (Brahmins, Kayasths, et cetera) are strongly consolidating around Modi, the Dalits and other Lower Castes, who traditionally support Mayawati’s BSP, are increasingly being attracted towards Modi due to his Lower Caste status. The middle class has always been a supporter of Modi. The Muzzafarnagar Riots have led the Jat community towards Modi. How Yadav voters will play, is still a mystery. Its only the Muslim voters that are still largely opposed to Modi.
Here Kejriwal comes into play. The Muslims in UP have a history of tactical voting. They support the candidate that has the highest possibility of defeating BJP. Muslims are disillusioned with SP due to the recent riots, with Congress, due to its 10 year dismal rule of the country and are considered to rally around the BSP. But Muslims know that Mayavati could ally with BJP after elections and cannot be trusted. Here a party named AAP comes, with its leader having relatively more credibility than the others, and is vocal about his anti-Modi thoughts and offering an actual future to Muslims, not the fear tactics that other parties adopt to gain Muslim votes by using BJP and Modi’s name. This would attract a considerable, though not majority, of Muslim and anti-Modi votes towards AAP and would divide an already fractured Muslim vote that cannot decide whether to vote for Cong, SP or BSP.
This would greatly fracture the anti-Modi, anti-BJP and Muslim votes in the state and would actually increase BJP’s chances of winning.

Arvind Kejriwal’s move against Modi may actually help Modi and BJP to win seats where Muslim Votes may spoil BJP’s chances.

The political equations are rapidly changing in Uttar Pradesh and the politics of the state is becoming increasingly interesting, and how AAP affects the fortunes of other parties in UP would be challenge for Pollsters.