I’ve been bewildered for over two years now about how people have been predicting a BJP win in 2019.
The bald facts are these:
Modi’s BJP won 31% of the vote in 2014 when his stock was at its highest (for “development” reasons, now comprehensively proved fake). This is the lowest percentage of votes any party has got while getting a clear majority in independent India. The fact is that a united opposition, despite Congress being as unworthy as it was, could have thwarted BJP even in 2014, at the height of the Modi wave.
Today, the opposition is far more united than then (even if it could do better). Congress has raised its game considerably too (though it still needs to get out of the way in some places). The BSP-SP combine pretty much ensures BJP’s defeat in crucially-important UP, even if we don’t account for the savage anti-incumbency of having Yogi as CM (that BJP was scared to announce before the state elections there).
Now, add the anger against Modi-Shah to this equation, thanks to demonetisation, GST and widespread unemployment, to just take the prime triggers. And the way BJP struggled more than they have in years in stronghold Gujarat – the rural anger they faced there is very obviously a national phenomenon. As was evident in the loss of three Hindi heartland states in the assembly elections – symptoms of an inevitable rage (with the history of the same voters giving an even bigger margin to the winners in the Lok Sabha). Given the low numbers so many BJP rallies appear to be garnering now, it seems as if in Modi’s time, anti-incumbency has become a 2-year phenomenon, rather than ten as before – this BJP’s gift of looking foolish so rapidly is actually its greatest gift to the nation.
Now, with the above as foundation, how tough is it for the Chowkidar song to get distorted by Rafael? How hard is it for Balakot slogans to choke on the gradual mass realisation that this PM was actually willing to endanger servicemen and civilians to benefit himself at election-time with a hollow war? How seriously will Nirav Modi’s potential extradition be taken in the face of Vijay Mallya’s, Lalit Modi’s, Mehul Choksi’s, Nitin Sandesara’s and Jatin Mehta’s? How credible is the North Korean media and the Whatsapp factory for people who feel their stomachs have been directly attacked? Are presidential-type pronouncements such as “what is the alternative?” or the “opinion polls” and “projections” that crown Modi king, really a match for the most contempt (loathing, actually) that has ever been generated for a single leader in the history of independent India so far? Will BJP’s massive (albeit shadily constructed) money-power be able to buy benefit-of-doubt on a scale (in terms of numbers) never witnessed by mankind till date? Most pertinently, does the minority-despising lot in India magically expect itself to be in the majority suddenly?
A simple question is this – is Modi more popular now than he was in 2014? The same, or less? It’s something each one of us can answer empirically. I have not met a single person, not even a hardcore BJP supporter, who feels Modi’s popularity hasn’t waned relative to 2014. Have you?
Various independent analyses (like Santanu Sengupta’s for example), more credible than most of those in the mainstream media for obvious reasons, suggest that NDA will not touch 200 while UPA will (which then, with post poll alliances, will result in an absolute majority for UPA comfortably). The grapevine has it that the BJP’s own analysis is not far from that, hence the visibly obvious panic. Even in those analyses, if you choose to temper the optimism (or pessimism, in our case) that gives BJP more than a few seats in MP, Rajasthan, UP and Delhi, then NDA touching even 150 by themselves frankly seems unlikely.
May 23rd, 2019 will be no less a significant day than August 15th, 1947 or 22nd March, 1977. It is as inevitable as well.