Post Elections Factoid
With the elections drawing to an end, various calculations are being made as to how the numbers will fall. What is interesting is that speculation about the Congress is whether the party will cross the 100 mark, while speculation about the BJP is if it will cross 200 seats. So, there is a 100-seat difference between the two national parties. As BJP leader Sudhanshu Mittal pointed out on the NewsX Roundtable, in case there was a hung House (for the record, he stated that he was confident that the BJP was crossing the halfway mark), then the President of India had two options—one was to call the single largest party (which would be the BJP), or else call the single largest pre-poll coalition (which would be the NDA), and on either scenario, it would be Prime Minister Narendra Modi who would be taking oath on the 24th. What he left unsaid is that the one who is in the PM’s chair gets a greater bargaining heft with the allies. Which is one reason the Congress and other Opposition allies are planning to meet on 21 May and use the three days between polling and result day to cobble up a game plan to ensure that theirs—and not the NDA—is the largest coalition bloc. But in the end, it will be the numbers that decide.
Blame it on the Numbers
A BJP strategist recently pointed out that the BJP was contesting only on 437 seats, having given the rest to allies. (In 2014, the party had contested 427 seats and won 282, while the Congress had contested in 450 seats and won 44). This time, the Congress is contesting around 423 odd seats. That aside, of the current lot of seats that the BJP is contesting, 62 are in Andhra, Telangana and Kerala, three states where the party is not expected to get more than a handful of seats. Which leaves 375 seats for the party to get the bulk of its tally needed to reach the halfway mark again. And don’t forget it is contesting fewer seats than it did in 2014 in the key states of Bihar, Jharkhand and Assam, having formed alliances here while it has contested a larger number of seats in Andhra this time around as there is no alliance with Chandrababu Naidu as there was in 2014. So, watch these numbers carefully on result day for the BJP will need a strike rate of 72% in these 375 seats (which includes UP, Bihar, MP, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Haryana) to get the magic figure of 272.
Kamal Nath’s Retort
One thing for the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister. He is never short of a reply. When asked whether one of the reasons he and Ashok Gehlot were made CMs was that the two veterans were seasoned at raising funds for the party, he shot back and asked: “How did the BJP build their fancy new office in Delhi? Did they sell their wives’ jewellery for this?” When the media asked him about Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s taunt that he travelled by choppers, he asked: “How does Chouhan travel, by mobikes?” In response to another query regarding how much he had focused on developing his constituency Chindwada while he was commerce minister, he asked: “Then whose constituency should I have developed…Narendra Modi’s?” In fact that’s one of his tag lines while campaigning all over the state; he tells the people “if you vote for the Congress candidate then, you will have as much right over me as the people of Chhindwara!”
It’s Scindia Vs Sidhu
No, this is not about infighting within the Congress, but about an interesting political prachar where Jyotiraditya Scindia, the MP from Guna and a keen cricketer, played a six-over match against Navjyot Singh Sidhu in the Shivpuri Assembly seat that falls within his constituency. Sidhu had come to campaign for Scindia and mostly fielded, while Scindia changed into his cricket gear and batted for his side, which ended up winning the match. After the match, the two addressed the crowd that came to watch the game and Scindia commented that just as they had got here together for a game, they should get together to knock the BJP government down. Talk about an election googly!
Is Shivraj being sidelined?
It’s interesting that the former Madhya Pradesh CM is not contesting this election. Party sources say that he was keen to contest from Bhopal and take on Digvijaya Singh, but was not given a ticket by the party high command. Neither is he playing a key role in state politics as he is not the Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly. Then what is he planning, or rather what is the party planning as his next course of action?
Come election time and a lot of books have hit the bookstores beginning with Prannoy Roy’s The Verdict. Others have followed, specially Surjit Bhalla’s Citizen Raj (incidentally Bhalla has predicted 255 for BJP and 57 for Congress); Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay and Sudhanshu Mittal have both penned books on the RSS, clearly seeing a sustained interest in the organisation if the BJP returns to power, and Vipin Malik’s book Demonetisation, Analysis and Impact, which not only explains the rationale behind this move, but has interesting case studies of other attempts to curb black money, the impact of DeMo on the economy and also case studies of individual struggles one went through in the initial days of DeMo, especially in the rural and agricultural belts. Finally, columnist Seema Goswami also celebrated the one-year anniversary of her political thriller Race Course Road, for elections find just the right backdrop for this work of fiction that draws on the world of politics and media for its racy narrative.