By S. Sivathasan –
What Nehru wrote about a great Indian personage, when changed a bit to the political stalwart that Modi is, it will read thus. He came as a tonic to the demoralized Indian mind, gave it self- confidence and some sense of political direction. Modi storm which has intensified and gathered momentum is ready for its second landfall. The portents indicated are that when it does fall, Congress will be devastated, Third Front pulverized and Aam Aadmi eliminated from a contest of any note. Serious discussions, edifying articles and credible survey results are now accessible for a better appreciation of election prospects. Let us await the fall as it shapes.
In my three previous presentations on Modi, I examined the BJP – Congress layout in the political landscape and the likely course of Modi surge in the labyrinth that is Indian election. Most of the variables are falling into place, the haze is getting cleared and predictables are increasing. What is most conspicuous is that the Indian electorate is opting more decisively for Modi and BJP. In my article on Modi dated 2nd January, I posed a hypothetical question, why Congress cannot come below 100 and why Modi will not go above 280. Though much ground needs to be lost by the former and gained by the latter, opposing direction of travel seems well pointed for the two.
On a time scale till May, February is yet for speculation. March is for Alliance partners to be in place and seat numbers to come closer to greater probability. April is for pre poll alliances and May is for post poll partnerships. With information flowing from all around, the two major parties have got into definitive territory, both negative and positive. Like the waning moon, AAP is corroding its shine by the day. Come April and it shall have depedestalised itself to single digit terrain.
If Modi Wave became a Storm and has gathered Momentum, what are the signs? Popularity escalating to 4/5th weightage on an all India scale is phenomenal enough. More striking is the rate of growth from December 8 to now. Can an electorate move on from a limited perspective to a national one with ease and speed? Yes is the answer that Sri Lanka provides.
Never Before Never After – Sri Lanka Experience
JR Jayewardene In 1977
The General Election in 1977 was a landmark event for 3 reasons. 1) JR and the party he led, the UNP, secured a 4/5th majority, winning 140 of 168 seats in the legislature. 2) The incumbent SLFP coalition which won 120 seats in the previous election was reduced to 8 seats. 3) All coalition parties – principally Marxists and Communists – were wiped out without a single seat.
This phenomenon was unprecedented. Lack of performance, sins of commission of the parties previously in power and perceived taint of corruption turned the tide in JR’s favour. Leadership qualities and organizational superiority won him the day. For a replication of such a phenomenon by Modi in similar circumstances in India in 2014, are there reasons to militate against?
Chandrika And Sri Lanka
From Chief Minister in one of nine Provinces to the country’s Prime Minister and then elected President, all in fifteen months was an astounding performance for Chandrika. As great was obtaining a clear majority in all 22 of the 22 electoral districts at the Presidential election. Greater still was to obtain 62% of the popular vote even under a system of proportional representation. What brought it about? Charisma of Chandrika apart, was the depth of feeling against perceived wrongs. It expressed itself first in one Province and then spread countrywide. The good done by the previous government was interred with its bones. The evil it did lived in haunting memory. Chandrika was the symbol for anti-establishment wrath to rally round. This was in 1994 in Sri Lanka.
JR’s performance had no precedent. Chandrika’s precedent had no repetition. The above are cited to highlight the point that a similar performance is not beyond Modi to realise.
Modi And India
Now in 2014, an identical sentiment of revulsion prevails in India. For it to coalesce around, a charismatic leader had to emerge. The hour produced the man in Modi. The five-state election gave an opening for venting anger. In the last two months Modi Effect has taken anger and victory across the nation, inspiring hope and confidence. It is for the Party and the leader to convert them to votes and translate votes to seats in the next three months. Political adroitness will accomplish them both. A Sea change in people’s sentiment following in on consistent success for Modi, is sure to impact on the state parties. It will induce a spirit of accommodation with BJP turning into support for Modi.
In early January itself Modi effect started pervading the country. The state of Delhi displayed a state of panic, driving the accused into the embrace of the accuser. Coalesced we rule, divided we fall was the unethical principle. Tamil Nadu was quick in sensing danger. The smallest two PMK and MDMK feared most the danger of extinction and allied with BJP first. MDMK of Vijayakanth is trying to save its right to life, by attempting to leap into the fold of BJP. DMK leader having no bargaining power with BJP seeks to add clout by holding hands with DMDK but is still rejected.
Congress doesn’t have a soul in TN to condole with, leave aside aligning with. AIADMK leader with Prime Ministerial ambition blasted by Modi, hopes like the other nine to lead the Front of 10 splinters. The Left yet on life support reckoning 10 as inadequate is laboring to bring 14 disparates together. Modi Effect accounts for their desperation. SooraPanman is one, manifestations are varied. Modi Effect is same, alliances it created are many.
From Here To Where?
Vinaasha kaala vibareedha buddhi – when destruction stalks, thinking goes awry – is the saying. An unprecedented election scene has dawned upon India. With discerning intelligence and a passion for a better life, the Indian electorate cast its vote in 2009. The victors squandered the goodwill and belied all expectations of good governance. The Social Contract alive and pulsating from the time of Rousseau for 250 years was laid to waste. With what depth of idealism Nehru and his learned colleagues laid down secularism as governing policy for India and took it forward. With what scholarship and understanding Nehru formulated the concept of Non-Alignment as the sheet anchor of foreign policy. He had the greatness to have it accepted by very many weighty nations.
When both domestic and foreign policy had lost their idealistic underpinnings, they lay in shambles. The Indian polity felt shattered. It is to the greatness of Anna Hazare that when disappointment was surging and leadership was going a begging he stepped forward to inspire a sense of hope. Yet unrealism overtook him and he decided to be like JP. Little wonder Nehru said of JP we sent a man into space long ago and he has remained there ever since – Jayaprakash Narayan. Seeing a dead end in mere agitation and not moving forward, Kejriwal took the correct step in founding a political party. Kiran Bedi was doubly correct when she supported party formation but opted for Modi as Prime Ministerial candidate. It is unfortunate that AAP started as a clear stream, but lost its way in desert sand. At the election it will have only detraction value.
Surveys and Studies
A recent survey carried out diligently provides fair guidance. Evidence is unmistakable that Modi Storm is gathering momentum. In all 34 states, voter preference for the next Prime Minister increased for Modi in the week ended January 26th compared to the previous week. In 32 of the 34 states, with the exception of Arunachal Pradesh and Haryana the choice was clear for Modi. In the aggregate was a convincing increase of 18%. In the National Capital Region – NCR- (Delhi) 80% preferred Modi to 10% for Kejriwal.
As with Modi so with BJP. In a week, BJP’s popularity rose 18% more as aggregate for all states. Preference for AAP was only from 3 states, a decline from 5 previously. In the aggregate AAP came down from 28% to 13 %. A feature conspicuous in the survey was that Mizoram won by Congress in December showed preference for BJP 100%. In addition Lakshdweep and Meghalaya, in the sixties previously went up to 100% in the latest reckoning ie Jan 27.
However thorough the surveys are and whatever be the excellence of the statistics, we have to add some salt as per our tastes – read judgment. We cannot overlook the evolving pattern of voter behavior. In six Lok Sabha elections in the last 18 years the share of state and regional parties has grown from 43% to 52%. So survey results have to be trimmed and balanced and treated with circumspection.
The reality that votes and seats do not have an all too close an affinity also needs to be appreciated. Surveys and studies throw much needed light and bring greater clarity. As of now the growth trajectory of BJP would need little acknowledgement. The ascendancy of Modi is reinforced by all recent developments. I have highlighted earlier and will emphasize again now that votes and seats for BJP apart, pre-poll alliances and post-poll coalition partnerships will determine the final shape of the government. Forging them within the parameters of principled governance will influence the texture of the government as well as its stability.