Reforms, issues, creative campaigns, and movies stars: 2019 is the most unpredictable General Election in India’s history.
- Reforms like GST, demonetization andissues like national security, Rafael and unemployment will play an important role in influencing voters’ preference.
- 2019 is a hazy election field where nationalistic fervour is locking horns with a prominent anti-incumbency sentiment.
- States like UP and Bihar having an alliance are fighting on the formula of consolidation of votes and anti- incumbency factor.
- Congress has launched NYAY scheme and ‘Apni baat Rahul ke saath’ to counter BJP’s PM-KISAN scheme and ‘Bharat ki baat Modi ke Saath’ campaign respectively.
With battle for power in 2019 about to end in less than 10 days, the two national political parties BJP and Congress are much confident about the prospect of their victories.
2019 is a hazy election field where nationalistic fervour is locking horns with a prominent anti-incumbency sentiment. BJP’s 2014 ploy to attract voters solely in the name of PM Narendra Modi is not having a similar impact in 2019.
BJP Vs ALL
The judgement day on May 23rd is up for a dramatic climax as the 17th Lok Sabha elections has developed into a battle between BJP Vs ALL.
Factors like declining Modi wave, anti- incumbency, GST, demonetization and issues like farmer loans, Rafael controversy and unemployment will influence voters’ preference as was seen in the recent assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
At the same time, recent developments like the air strike after Pulwama attack and surgical strikes after Uri is seen as a deciding factor.
States like West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka are dominated by regional parties and incline more on voting about regional issues. This makes Hindi heartland states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana crucial to BJP’s hopes of arousing the nationalist sentiment to garner more votes.
Congress is busy in creating propaganda on the non- delivered points from the 2014 poll promises of BJP like 15 lakhs in every bank account and farm loan waiver.
On the other hand BJP is propagating about the benefits of its schemes like Swatch Bharat Mission, Ujjwala Yogna, Mudra Yogna, Ayushmaan Bharat and Saubhagya.
While BJP cooked ‘Samrasta Khichdi’ at the Bhim Mahasangam rally in Ramleela Maidan in order to woo Dalit voters, Congress party made Shakti mobile application in order to create a strong connect with its party workers.
Regional parties are not behind in the race, Shiv Sena in Maharashtra have started working on the booth level and made its fronts active like BKS, SLS etc. Similarly Mamata Banerjee organised United India Rally in order to uproot BJP.
Other than active political campaigning, parties are roping in film stars and social personalities as Sunny Deol (BJP), Urmila Matondkar (Congress candidate from Mumbai North) to resonate with voters. Also films like URI, The Accidental Prime minister were all used to set the stage for the elections.
States that will decide the balance of power
Uttar Pradesh – Mahagathbandhan vs Modi wave
Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of Lok sabha seats. It has witnessed an alliance of longtime rivals SP and BSP which is expected to make life tough for incumbent BJP. Consolidation of votes, positive image of Akhilesh Yadav, anti- incumbency against Yogi Adityanath, and diminishing Modi wave are factors in favour of the alliance.
Not part of any alliance, Congress is limited to its traditional seats Amethi and Raibareli. In 2014, NDA achieved a wipe out with 73 seats out of 80.
Bihar – Caste politics and Tejashwi’s growing star
Bihar, again is seeing an alliance of RJD, Congress, RLSP and HAM parties. The alliance has an upper hand due to the consolidation of caste votes specifically Yadav and Muslim communities which are the traditional supporter of RJD and Congress, and are dominant in majority of Bihar’s parliamentary constituencies.
Along with this, Tejashwi Yadav is emerging as a youth icon and is seen an alternative to Nitish Kumar.
Madhya Pradesh – Bipartisan battleground
The state comprising of 29 parliamentary constituencies is seeing a straight two-way fight between BJP and Congress. SP and BSP is having an alliance which has fielded its candidate on limited seats.
In the last assembly elections congress defeated BJP because of the growing anti- incumbency against Shivraj Singh Chouhan, emergence of parties like SPAKAS and JAYAS, and farmer distress and issue like SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act. This time it’s a complete battleground situation between the two and none is seen to have an upper hand.
West Bengal – Right approach to the Left land
In the state where left parties always had a great influence, it is not easy to even make an entry. A distant fourth in 2016, BJP emerged as the second most dominant player in the recent Assembly and Panchayat elections.
BJP has more than 2550 shakhas across Bengal, opened in the last year. RSS and its frontal organisations have started a pro-NRC drive in all West Bengal districts near Bangladesh border. It is leveraging door-to-door campaigning to convince people about the “future perils” of “non-stop infiltration”.
However, in the political sense, the party is considered as an outsider which is unknown to the culture of Bengal. This may be be a major factor and the biggest weakness leading to huge loss for the BJP.
Another reason is the lack of local leadership. BJP are unable to find a Bengali ‘Babu’ or ‘Didi’ who can represent the party. State President Dilip Ghosh is no match for Banerjee as a public speaker. Nor is Mukul Roy, the BJP’s import from the TMC. Babul Supriyo has a long road ahead before becoming a leader of the masses.
Setting the stage
Congress: Tit for tat to BJP
‘NYAY’ to farmers by CongressCongress is leaving no stone unturned in 2019. Nyuntam Aay Yojana, or NYAY announcement came a month after the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme was announced by BJP.
Congress party has cleverly tried to divert the discussion from the practicality of implementation and instead is focusing on the numbers which put it in a better light than BJP.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi highlighted that if the party comes to power then it will provide Rs 6000 per month under the scheme, way more that Rs. 6000 per year by the BJP.
Practicality of Schemes
PM Kisan scheme covered 27.5 million farmers in paying the 1st installment during the launch. Another 20.1 million farmers will be covered before the elections, as per reports.
NYAY promises to cover 25 crore poor or 20% of the poorest families of the country. However, the details un-drafted. NYAY targets the poorest of poor, while BJP scheme is directed towards small and marginal owners.
The launching of schemes targeting poor farmers on the income and employment issues is a weapon that might work for the opposition.
Apni baat Rahul ke saath vs Bharat ki baat Modi ke Saath
‘I am Rahul, I am Congress president’, says the party president while talking to a set of young people at a restaurant in an outreach campaign ‘Apni baat Rahul ke saath’ – a counter attack to the BJP’s ‘Bharat ki baat Modi ke Saath’ campaign.
BJP through its campaign targeted reaching 10 crore people. The campaign is an extension of Modi’s ‘Mann ki Baat‘ . On the other hand, Rahul Gandhi is connecting in direct way, which is likely to improve his image from the scion of dynasty politics to a leader of the people.
Rahul Gandhi’s emergence as a national leader
After the recent assembly election wins for congress in critical states, a positive sentiment has palpated around the prospects of Rahul Gandhi as a national leader for the first time. GST and demonetization hit citizens now view him as an alternative to Modi.
Gandhi-led Congress is doing nothing new. Rather it is copying BJP’s creative publicity strategy. Congress outreach in 2019 is actually neutralizing the effect and influence of BJP in areas with an anti-incumbency sentiment.
Make or break
BJP will struggle to get a clear majority, but alliances in the NDA will see Narendra Modi retaining the Prime Minister’s office. But with less than 250 seats, BJP should expect a stronger opposition when it forms the government in June 2019.DEEPAK KAISTHA, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, DKODING MEDIA
2019 is battle beyond numbers as reputations are at stakes. Congress is leaving no stone unturned to reclaim its kingdom back whereas BJP remains confident about five more years of Modi.
But with regional forces now emerging with national ambitions and sturdy alliances are strong players with their performance not limited to their own states.
Critical questions which will be answered on May 23rd
The day will catch the attention of eyes around the world, when the fortune of the biggest democracy of the world is made public. What will be answered for confused psephologists:
- Will people accept Modi as it’s leader again?
- Do people see Rahul Gandhi as an alternative of Modi?
- Will people vote BJP on reforms like GST and demonetization?
- Will the coming verdict put the existence of few regional forces at stake?
- Can regional party alliances come to the fore once again like 1996?
- Regional parties have emerged as strong players with inter-state alliances in opposition a big challenge for BJP.
- Hindi heartland states MP, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, UP, and Haryana are crucial to BJP’s nationalist narrative for votes.
- Recent assembly election wins for congress in critical states, has palpated positive sentiment as Rahul Gandhi emerges as a national leader for the first time.
- Opinion polls from various organizations foresee BJP failing to get a clear majority but prevailing with NDA. PM Modi is expected to stay on for a second 5-year tenure.