New Delhi: The one thing that most political experts agreed upon before exit poll results were out was that there was no Modi wave this time. That doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.
If exit polls are to be believed, not only was there a Modi wave in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, but this wave was bigger than the ‘TsuNamo’ of 2014. Narendra Modi is likely to beat all odds and create history by being the leader of the first non-Congress led alliance to return to power at the Centre, possibly by a bigger margin this time.
Assuming that the indication of all the exit polls, which are tending firmly towards a BJP-led government, is correct, what does it mean for realpolitik? We look at three big factors.
Although the BJP did not raise this slogan in this campaigning season, if pollsters are proven correct, it will mean not just an existential crisis for the Congress but an unprecedented influence of a party that sees itself as an antithesis to the grand old party.
Up on the table will be same issues — abrogation of articles 370 and 35A, Ram Mandir and Uniform Civil Code. This time, building a consensus on them may be easier.
But the BJP will not just gain from the power it wields at the Centre. BJP’s mammoth victory in general elections will put a severe strain on alliances like Congress-JD(S) in Karnataka which is already going through a rough patch. Could we see a return of ‘Operation Kamal’ in the southern state?
An encore by the BJP may also have a bearing on the small alliances the Congress has stitched in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh to come to power.
The BJP’s strong showing will take the edge away from the Shiv Sena, an irate ally the BJP had to bear till now, at an opportune moment when Maharashtra is going to vote in assembly elections. It will also help the BJP reinforce its ground strength in Haryana, Jharkhand and Delhi, which are also going to polls in the next 12 months.
Having already established a foothold in Kerala, the BJP has become the primary opposition in West Bengal and Odisha, and depending on whose exit poll survey you believe, they could actually sweep both these states. In Odisha particularly, which was also voting for its assembly, Modi may be able to tame Naveen Patnaik on both fronts.
Regional Parties Bigger Challengers Than Congress?
When it came to resisting the Modi wave, it seems that not the Congress but regional satraps, most prominently the BSP and the SP, fought Modi and his huge poll machinery with the greatest success.
News18-IPSOS has predicted BJP+ getting between 60 and 62 seats in Uttar Pradesh, SP+BSP+RLD getting between 17 and 19 seats, and the Congress getting 1-2 seats.
While Times Now-CVoter has given 38 seats to BJP+ in UP, 40 seats to Gathbandhan and two seats to the Congress, ABP Nielsen has predicted the Gathbandhan winning 56 seats, BJP 22 and Congress two seats.
NDTV’s poll of polls has predicted BJP+ winning 46 seats, Mahagathbandhan winning 31 seats, and Congress winning three.
Whichever pollster one trusts, the message remains the same — when it came to dealing with the BJP head-on, it was the parties with a dedicated cadre and caste support base that fared the best. This, depending on the results of West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and to a lesser extent in states like Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Bihar, could prove that the only credible alternative to BJP may lie in the regional forces.
Thumbs Down for Dynastic Politics?
The man who was being projected as the next Prime Minister of India will have to answer some very tough questions if the numbers by the pollsters turn out to be true on May 23. His future and the merits of ‘dynastic politics’ will be under severe question if he’s not able to resuscitate the party, whose functioning under such a diminished strength, for a second time in running, will be very hard.
Rahul Gandhi took over the reins of the Congress just before Gujarat elections which he almost won for his party, and ended one year as his party’s chief in December last year when he won the three big central states of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
But in these Lok Sabha polls, which were unambiguously fought under his leadership, the first for him, he was clearly barking up the wrong tree all the time. Nyay clearly did not find resonance on the ground. The charges of being a 'Shahzada', 'Prince', which till now Rahul Gandhi seemed to duck successfully, may stick now. Which is why a solution even in the form of appointing Priyanka Gandhi, if such a proposal is raised again, will not ease many anxious Congress workers.
Speaking of leadership, Priyanka Gandhi, will also have to justify her promotion as party general secretary. To thousands of Congress workers, she will have to explain how the Congress managed to win only its family seats of Amethi and Rae Bareli, and wasn’t able expand anywhere else in the country except in a few pockets in Kerala.