By S. Sivathasan –
Promise and Fulfillment
Even as the Lok Sabha Election victory of May, 2014 conferred its mandate on the BJP and its leader Modi, efforts commenced to secure the succeeding term as well. The Party made a strident assertion at the previous election thus: “BJP believes a resurgent India must get its rightful place in the comity of nations and international institutions … so that it leads to an economically stronger India, and its voice is heard in the international fora”. Much has been achieved with single minded pursuit of this objective. To consummate the process and to take governance to the next level, four more terms of unremitting effort are needed. Hence a visionary plan is beginning to be made stretching to 2040 and even going beyond to 2050.
Victory at the hustings in 2019 is basic to successive triumphs to follow. After phase IV of voting was concluded on 29 April, for 373 constituencies ie for 69 % of the seats, confidence welled up and optimism rose. What immediately followed was a beginning to flesh out the thoughts and ambitions with eye catching programmes and mind filling targets. With the last three phases over now, all what remains to be seen are the results for all the seats on May 23rd.
Pro Incumbency Wave
About the attributes of a leader, Hitler said he should be a Theorizer, an Organizer, a Leader. Modi has shown India that he fits the bill. At three consecutive elections in Gujarat he pulverized the fib called ‘incumbency factor’ and showed his prowess at scoring victory. In 2014 he became a repository of the nation’s trust. Now the polity wants him and none else, as all polls and surveys demonstrate. He thus had the confidence to coin famously the phrase, ‘Pro Incumbency Wave’. A voter strength of 171 million, party membership numbering 110 million and booth committees totaling 1.1 million, buttress his confidence. There is besides a massive survey done six months ago. The results are reviewed constantly by the top leadership, to enable an objective nation-wide assessment together with keenly observed subjective factors.
This writer’s first article on Lok Sabha election 2019 was published in the Colombo Telegraph on 7th October 2018. It was said therein, that “BJP will win 300 + seats”. In the articles that followed, the same position was maintained. With the election now concluded, my forecast for BJP stand-alone seats is 304. Pre poll alliances can take the NDA total to 325.
What contribute to this computation? In the West, the North and the Central heartland changes are minor. In the North East there is a plus with a definite 2 seats in Tripura for BJP. The largest 5 states, Uttara Pradesh (80), Maharashtra (48), West Bengal (42) Bihar (40) and Tamil Nadu (39) together give a cumulative plus, plus to BJP. Gujarat at 26 seats and Delhi at 7 are a sweeping success for BJP, no different from 2014. Three states that make a significant difference in 2019 are: West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Odisha winning a near 50% if not more for the BJP or the NDA. These 3 states will share the credit for tilting the balance, securing an absolute majority and installing the BJP in the seat of government.
Andhra Pradesh where YSR Congress is sure to dislodge the incumbent malcontent, will support the NDA in a post poll alliance with BJP. Telengana will see KCR winning and doing likewise. In Kerala BJP will open its maiden account with one seat or two. The Communist Party reduced to a nullity in a lonely state, winning only some 4 seats, having no leg to stand on, will totter to its doom and become extinct in 2024. As BJP gains all India representation, India will move robustly as a compact entity, a nation.
Since the fourth phase of the poll, Prime Minister Modi has been predicting that the outcome will be higher than BJP’s performance in 2014. Very optimistically he has said, BJP will get more than 282 seats and NDA higher than 336. He has very many reasons to be so assertive. Subjective factors influence much of his judgement. Foremost among them is performance. Keeping high level corruption at bay particularly at the highest echelons of governance is an achievement, unprecedented in recent times. It is widely stated that for once an election is being fought in which power shortages, food prices and inflation do not feature. Several other achievements I have mentioned in earlier articles. A point Modi emphasizes is the direct reach that benefits have secured without leaks and broker intervention. His view is that beneficiaries in their millions are conscious of their obligation to those in governance.
The Prime Minister having traversed the country in more than 100,000 miles, spoken to several millions at public meetings and interacted with millions face to face has got an infallible sense of their mindset and mood. Nehru did as well, but now the population is thrice the size and modes of communication are greatly advanced. Both PMs pride over their iron constitution and owe it all to congenital endowment and yogic exercises. More importantly both of them refer to the energy and strength they derive from the love and adulation of the masses. This rare benediction is given but to a few. Nehru had it in good measure and to Modi such charisma has accreted over time. There are several such intangibles which convince him of victory. It is not given to the ever-proliferating contenders to discern it.
Decline of the Congress
A record number of 414 seats to Rajiv Gandhi in 1984 was India’s tribute to Indira Gandhi. A minimal 44 seats was the achievement in 2014. A sop of 11 more may take it to 55 at this election. The electorate is never merciful to ineptitude. Congress was moored in the doldrums and set sail recently, but lacked an able helmsman to chart it through. It has now run aground.
With a population of 1.36 billion and an economy on the upswing, India is moving formidably forward. A nation of more than a million Hindus wears the mantle of leadership to the Hindu world. Socially and economically the nation has seen a resurgence. In her search for political leadership she saw her match in BJP and Prime Minister Modi. The polity is opting to choose them for another term. This week will see the official endorsement. National renaissance is destined to follow.
This Writer’s Experience
In this background, while the world watched, an unforgiving war has been fought and fought decisively. Numberless forecasts have been made. What has been the experience of those who attempted their predictions? The media was rife with exposes’, discussions, debates, explanations and persuasions. Anchors did a brilliant job venturing to present enlightening leads. Young ladies with unrelenting interventions sought to bring reason and logic to the fore. All this with perfect command of English; a tribute to the standard of instruction in modern India. Yet it was Hindi that ruled the roost in most speeches and presentations.
Medium apart, there was a common thread that ran through all the political discourses. This writer saw it in Tamil too. Virtually all presenters and discussants commenced with a passion to be objective, but morphed in the heat of debate into tendentious panelists, loosing their sense of mission and arguing forcefully for what was deep in the recesses of their heart and mind. No fault on anybody’s part. In an emotionally charged atmosphere – ethnic, religious or political – it is idle to talk about the ideal. The point made here is that the readership and the listenership, this time around had a difficulty in sifting the real from the distorted. One had to delve deep for the actual and though not gripping it exactly, sighted the subterranean sections of the iceberg. Many outside Tamil Nadu have observed that Tamil Nadu was hardest to plumb for a good forecast. Why?
The Tamil mind is inscrutable.