Tuesday, December 23, 2014

I said it a bit too early

During my last post, I did not remember the state elections in the two "J" states - Jharkhand and J&K . As the results for these are still pouring in, my feeling is that in Jharkhand, BJP will get somewhere in the 38-44 range, which should be - if need be , together with some independents or small parties - enough to form a govt. In J & K, I think chances are more for a PDP+Congress govt. This would put the tally something like

Congress : Alone -6 ; alliance 4
BJP : Alone - 6 ; alliance - 5
Others - 9

Still, kind of a level field.. I think this point is now kind of more evident with the disruptions in RS - until BJP gets majority is RS too, it is still only a level field. And now for some random thoughts

1) Yet again, I hold that the results in J & K is good for BJP in the long run.. hopefully it will learn some lessons from a 0 tally from Kashmir Valley in spite of so much effort.. and the fact that they still have work to do in Jammu and Ladakh to be able to sweep those completely. Most importantly, this will hopefully send the signal to volunteers in Delhi to work harder, as well as voters in Delhi to give BJP a clear mandate..

2) The entire disruption of RS - I think the so called opposition is just playing into BJPs hands. There are 4 possible scenarios of what could happen under Modi in the next 1 or 2 yrs

a) India does not develop much - but if the opposition continues to disrupt, the blame will be on them
b) If India does not develop despite the opposition not disrupting RS, the blame will squarely be on Modi
c) India develops, opposition not doing much disruption, most credit will go to Modi, not much negative on oppn
d) India develops, despite the opposition disruptions, then well, they can forget 2019

So only in scenario b, does the opposition benefit, and for that opposition has to keep quiet. By continuing to disrupt RS, they are just turning and turning more villains in the eyes of the voters and Modi will continue to be seen as some one who tried his best to bring the debate on development, but the opposition did not let him to

And worst, people are going to increasingly see the need to make BJP victorious in state after state. Got it ?!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Why 2014 has been a year of setting the field level

In a matter of couple of weeks, life and death uncertainties apart, I would turn 35 .  One more year and it will be 36. Why is that number so significant ? - it is like becoming an adult twice ! (sorry, that is probably inspired by a Malayalam movie dialogue). And again, if health and stars permit, that makes it about 1/3rd of active life left !!!

Some churning has started on what I really want to do with that remaining life.. and most likely it will continue for the next one year.. or may be even after that, I will probably just keep thinking and leading life as usual, with all its "still something not satisfactory" part. Interestingly, career wise too, my current job is now in a situation that major transitions within are going to happen for next 1 year, assuming the job stays or I stay !!

So basically, at a personal field, and at a career field, I feel its kind of a start all over !

Interestingly, I feel that Indian politics too have come to such a stage. With the Maharashtra and Haryana state election results now over, I think pretty much major (state or National of course) elections for 2014 are over - I doubt if Delhi can be done before December. So what did 2014 have in store for us ?

At the surface, it looks like a BJP sweep and upswing, but I would say, so far they have only leveled the field. Look at the number of states currently (or in a matter of few days) ruled by Congress, BJP and others - alone or with allies
Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_current_Indian_chief_ministers and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_governments_of_India#mediaviewer/File:Indian_states_by_ruling_party.png


Alone: Arunachal Pradhes, Assam, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram . Total - 6
Alliance: Kerala, Meghalaya, Uttarakhand (CM from Congress), J &K , Jharkhand . Total - 5


Alone: Chattisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan . Total -6
Alliance: Maharashtra(hopefully BJP CM),Andhra Pradesh, Punjab,Nagaland. Total - 4 .


Bihar, Delhi, Orissa, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Telengana, Tripura, UP, WB. Total - 9 .

So its Congress+ still in 11, BJP+ in 10 and rest in 9 . True, the Loksabha is with BJP, but Rajya Sabha is still not. And though the intial 3-4 months of Modi government has seen reasonably bold decisions and at least "on right track" decisions (like on diesel/coal, like on Swach Bharath, labor reforms, proposed housing plans...) , it still is taking time to put the economy and the mood in general, first on to a level playing field and then build on it

Hopefully, the churn thus far is almost over, and from now it is a matter of how things shape up from now on. The Modi wave (in other words, the good will, trust and hope factor that Modi enjoyed that helped him win Loksabha elections , the momentum of which also got carried forward to some extend to Maharashtra/Haryana)  will not be there for ever. And none must be knowing this as much as Amit Shah, and he must be working out newer strategies.

Sometimes uncertainty is interesting, from the point of view of curiosity. But not beyond a certain point !!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

How the battle was won and why the war still remains

Prelude: As I shared my post of what I qualified as Modi wave, flood or tsunami ( http://drisyadrisya.blogspot.in/2014/04/the-numbers-that-matter.html ) with my friends in US, one of them asked me my view on how it was engineered. I promised a post after the resultss are declared. I had noted down the points and wanted to post it on May 16th night itself. But the scale of the victory was so overwhelming that I just couldn't pull myself up for a post on May 16th - have been so glued to the TV for the past two days. I took a leave on Friday, because something deep within told me that it is going to be a historic day. Now that it is slowly sinking in, here is my post, divided into 4 parts

Many of these points may very well be discussed to death by media, but I am trying to give my own thoughts - in no way is it comprehensive, neither have I been part of any official campaign team, below are just my observations

Part 1: How the battle was won - "internal" (to BJP) factors

I think BJP, with Modi as its head campaigner, unleashed one of the smartest ever campaigns in the history of Independent India. Though Modi was declared PM candidate only in september, he seems to have planned elements of it even well ahead, but in a way that it was still flexible enough to suit to a dynamic Indian political scene (like the emergence of AAP). To be able to achieve this, there needed a team of not just inspired brigade, but fired up brigade. I think the greatest quality of Modi that made him win this election is that he is some one who inspires. The energy if this 63 year old man, makes some one like me who is just a little above half his age, literally disturbed that I am only able to do so less.  So I can imagine how much some one who is able to work with him can get fired up

There are lot of articles floating around about CAG, how about 200 young professionals quit their job to work for NaMo and so on, but here is a piece that appeared on April 10, that I liked (and saved for this post) http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/bjp-narendra-modi-bjp-members-lok-sabha-polls-2014-namo-mission-272+-modi-for-pm/1/354876.html

Indeed some of the details of how this was run, may be kept a trade secret - for potential future use. In fact there were even different teams - for example, I was once told that "chai-pe-charcha" and "namo-tea-party" were completely different initiatives, run by completely different people, and sometimes there was even friendly competition and petty fights between their volunteers (I may be wrong, but thats my impression) - so characteristic of youth. Can you remember the last time there was friendly competition among India youth for a selfless work of this kind ?

Whether it was NaMo alone, or whether it was a team advising or discussing with him, there was clearly strategies behind almost every move - I don't think even a single bit of what Modi did was unplanned. In that sense, he showed great discipline in "sticking to the plan".  From September to early March or so NaMo built up the momentum through his weekend rallies (including the famous one in Bihar where he historically completed his address inspite of Bomb Blasts and handled the crowd and the situation so very well). Once the elections were declared it was a flood of rallies - all so well organized , meticulously executed. It was perhaps quite a bit of RSS help, but then you need a leader to bring out the best in every one and to give a chance to do what you are best at ! I have a feeling that even the art-of-living's voter registration drive a way of "taking help smartly"

NaMo's speeches had variety in 3 major ways - one, he was able to change tactics based on the region (including almost invariably mentioning a historical fact or anecdote of the place he was speaking). Two, he was able to change his style based on the type of the crowd - remember his 56-inch chest comment among UP bhayyas as opposed to a "They criticize me by saying that I work for the improvement of urban middle class.. aren't urban middle class not citizens of India?" comment (not the exact words, but along those lines) in Bangalore. And third, he was able to change gears as time progressed .. from a slow build up, to a sustained medium run up to an aggressive ending.

Indeed there are lot more factors - including the fact that many other BJP leaders too contributed immensely. The fact that BJP had strong CMs in MP, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh, Goa, made it that much easier for BJP - NaMo could much more focus on Bihar and UP.  And undoubtedly the Gujarati contribution - interestingly, if u analyze the results, it literally looks like a Tsunami with center in Gujarat - the closer to Gujarat, the more you were impacted. - Clean sweep in Rajasthan, Delhi.. almost near sweep in MP, UP , Maharashtra,.. big impacts in Bihar, Karnataka .. the water even reached Kanyakumari  Anyways, I cut short my list and move on to the external factors

Part 2: How the battle was won - external (to BJP) factors

 2013 Dec 8, Sunday. Assembly elections in Rajasthan, MP, Chattisgarh and Delhi were being declared. Though BJP got 80+, 75+, 50+ percentages in the first three states, the highest focus was on Delhi. BJP at 32, and the new "killer" AAP at 28. The big question was whether BJP will stake claim, whether they will "buy out" some AAP MLAs etc etc.. Suddenly, or so it appears, NaMo flew down to Delhi around 3 pm or so, had an emergency meeting with BJP leaders including Dr HarshVardhan. Little later in the evening, HarshVardhan came on one of the channels - I think it was Times Now - and to a question on whether he will stake claim, categorically stated "We do not have the numbers, we will sit in opposition". The confidence with which he said that, made me feel right away that it was a well thought out decision and most likely was either a NaMo idea or had his full backing.

The rest is now history- how AAP came to power, messed it up so badly and lost Delhi 0-7 to BJP in LS

The point I want to make is how brilliantly BJP strategized these moves. And I made a post then, http://drisyadrisya.blogspot.in/2013/12/why-36-may-be-better-than-4.html and I firmly believe, AAP was a big factor in contributing to such a massive victory for BJP. AAP played the role of pouring oil into an already ignited BJP volunteer. The kind of campaign they ran was easily the ugliest in India's election history - lies after lies, fake stories after fake stories, abuses after abuses. Silence was Modi's weapon against AAP including in Varanasi . And the NaMo youth brigade just grew (many fence sitters, lazy folks like me were now switched on) and fired up.. ney blazed against the imposters , most of whom had no idea of what they are talking about and were more like cult members. I am not dismissing AAP as a long term threat to India - nuisance never goes away you see - but that is for another day.

Arvind Kejriwal wanted to be seen as the "Man who stopped Modi" , but he symbolized what exactly went wrong with the anti-Modi campaign. The anti-Modi ness itself.  Modi wanted to make it a Presidential style election - a referendum on his agenda and the likes of Kejriwal, Mulayam, Lalu , RSVP indeed, and Mamata played into it, each one wanting to be "I stopped Modi" claimant on his own, making it so much more easier for Modi.

That apart, the way the alliances were built up were quite interesting as well. In hindsight , it appears that Modi had a high confidence that BJP will succeed in mission 272 on its own, and did not go out of the way to get allies who were likely to score big - like Mamata, Jaya and Naveen. Shivsena and SAD were existing allies, and the only other big ally that Modi got was TDP, which in my opinion is less controversial and is more along the development lines. There are varying opinions on whether BJP should have gone alone in TN - I think the reason for the rainbow alliance was that BJP did not have the organizational infrastructure in TN (unlike Kerala where its relatively stronger). Allying with kind of parties it did in TN, gave BJP a chance to use their network, and spread NaMo message - http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/lok-sabha-elections-2014/news/BJPs-allies-in-Tamil-Nadu-bond-on-Modi-theme/articleshow/33465373.cms

It may not have fetched many seats for BJP in TN, but I think the variety in the way BJP handled different states (for example, going alone in Odisha, Kerala, WB, Assam...) , going with many small groups in some states (TN, Bihar, Maharashtra), tying up with TDP in Seemandhra , and the results of each of these, will give BJP enough insights to learn about for its future plans - and that is what I will move on to next, but it will be brief

Part 3: The war remains: Internal (to BJP) 

BJP won the best tally ever - as Balbir Punj put it, many would have thought it will not happen in their life time. Yet, it still has not won a single seat in Kerala, won only 1 seat (that too in alliance) in TN, won only 2 in WB (and one if not both of those are from the Gorkhaland area) etc etc. In a nutshell, the way BJP got the numbers is by maximizing the impact of where it has been traditionally strong - and even this, in most cases, it won so on Modi wave. Organizationally,  and more importantly from a local leadership point of view, the party still faces challenge - UP is the best example.

However, this is the best opportunity to make it organizationally and ideologically strong in states like UP to a position of winnability in the next assembly election, and in states like Kerala and WB to a position of more-strength in their respective assembly elections.

There is at least one more challenge that BJP faces 'internally'. Managing the Parivar groups. Though most of these organizations and their members and extremely devoted to serving India and its culture and I have no doubt that they will want to do India any harm, in their over enthusiasm, and traditionally think-from-heart nature, they may tend to suggest things in a way that may put pressure (or will be projected to put pressure) on BJP. NaMo has shown that he has his smarter ways of doing some these things that the parivar groups want, and I hope they let him do it his way .. or if at all you want to suggest, do it more subtly than in a way that appears to be pushing for it.

Part 4: The war remains: Eternal (to BJP) factors  
 Well, what I really mean is, factors concerning India itself, but not necessarily to be handled at a party level, but at the NaMo government level. It is likely that Congress and many of the opposition parties will plan its own mischievous activities, not to speak of the "sleeping" cells of our 'friendly' neighbours. There will be the usual NGO wallahs ready to start demonizing India abroad ..   Can NaMo withstand it all, and take India to new heights ?

Perhaps, like his campaign itself, NaMo will need the continued participation of the brigade, in a way never seen before in Independent India's history. The call was already given in Varanasi today - for every Indian to be part of a clean-India-by-2019 (Gandhiji's 150th birth anniversary) campaign, and that may just be the beginning ...


Sunday, May 11, 2014

May 11 thoughts yet again (250th post)

For whatever reason, May has in many years been a "May be" month for me. And this year seems not much different. Uncertainties in life (which I am not going to touch upon much) and uncertainties in Indian politics - and at times I have felt that the latter is really critical in terms of deciding the fate of India - for 5 years.. ney, may be 50

Before I get into GE2014 again, let me repeat the significance of May 11 (reposting from my 2006 post) :

A)  1857, the first war of Indian independence, essentially started on May 9, and the Indian soldiers recaptured Delhi from the Brits on May 11 . here's something to read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Delhi_(1857) .

B)  1951 : On May 11 Dr Rajendra Prasad, the then President, performed the Prana Prathistha ceremony of a renovated Somnath Temple. And I so love to quote his words, year after year

"By rising from its ashes again, this temple of Somnath, is to say proclaiming to the world,that no man and no power in the world can destroy that for which people have boundless faith and love in their hearts..... Today our aim is not to rectify history, our only aim is to proclaim anew our attachment to the faith , convictions and values on which our religion has rested since immemorial ages"

(the quote can be found on http://blog.lkadvani.in/blog-in-english/no-full-stops-in-bjp though I read it elsewhere)

C) 1998 : The Pokhran II tests - started on May 11  ( Operation Shakti ) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pokhran-II  .  I am glad Narendra Modi tweeted about it this year http://news.oneindia.in/new-delhi/narendra-modi-addresses-twitterattis-on-pokhran-ii-s-16th-anniversary-1445371.html  

 All the three above, for me, are incidents of rejuvenation, and I am hoping, we will see a similar on May 16th


A few more random items before I close this post

* In my last post, I predicted a 240 for BJP. Even up to a few weeks before that, I had predicted more like a 216.. so what exactly changed ? Well, a few things -  more and more ground reports from Tamil Nadu suggested a few potential seats for BJP there. Some thing seems to be happening in WB - I see lot of Modi talk amongst Bengalis in Bangalore, and Mamata going so all out against Modi tells me that BJP has gained critical mass.  Similarly the desperation shown by Congress and SP in UP to make hurdles for Modi, tells me that indeed there is quite a Modi impact there.. So putting all this together, I redid my min-max-average method, and I simply landed with a 240 . We will see how close or off I am, on May 16 :)  .. so thats another may be

* I have been hinting at my previous posts that Modi may not become PM - I was predicting more of a scenario of NDA (not BJP alone, but NDA) getting close to a 250 (something like a 210 for BJP and 40 for allies), and then some new potential allies insisting they will support NDA if its some one other than Modi as PM. Well, that is still a possibility, but what if NDA actually gets a clear majority - like my latest prediction of 285.. or even a 300 ? In such a situation too, I still see a 50-50 chance  of Modi not being a PM .. I some how feels that he has a grander plan in mind.. even in the Time Now interview, while answering a question of why he has gone all out in attacking the likes of Mamata and "burning bridges" with potential post-poll allies, Modi answered something to the effect of "it has a reason" and when Arnab says he did not quite understand, Modi simply says "understand as much as you can.. and the rest I will tell you after May 12". So is Modi waiting for the final vote to be casted (some repolling is due May 13, so may be after that) and drop a surprise announcement ? Did he meet RSS top brass on May 10 itself instead of waiting for May 13 or even a May 16, to start any discussions along this lines ? Deep within I feel that the meeting was not just about how to manage allies (in case NDA < 272) or who will succeed him in Gujarat, or about his potential cabinet -- I think there is something deeper happening.. we will know soon - till then thats " may be "

* What if Modi indeed becomes the PM ? who will be his ministers.. who will focus on the party - some say Rajnath, some say may be Amit Shah ..  And what if NDA ends up being in opposition after all... will Modi take up being Leader of opposition ? Too many " may be "

* Finally, this is my 250th post .. and May 17th also marks the completion of 9 years of this blog . In 3 years I had 200 posts, but in the next 2 years I had only 25 .. and then it took another 4 years for the next 25 !! So what will be the future of this blog .. Will I get back to a more frequent posting routine ? well, " may be " .

That is what the month of May is about  .. let May be !!

Friday, May 09, 2014

My final prediction for GE2014

Its 7pm IST on May 9th. One week from now, by this time, quite likely the fate of a 1.25 billion strong Nation may be decided. It is a strange feeling, and as the campaigning comes to an end tomorrow, it seems to have reached a high pitch.

As I started this series on GE2014, one of my initial posts (on 2013 Oct 16 to be exact) was my prediction of the numbers.   http://drisyadrisya.blogspot.in/2013/10/can-numbers-add-up.html  . My method has been a "method of averages" and interestingly had predicted it fairly accurate for 2009 GE ( he he he .. where are the Sardesais and the Goswamys ??)  . In my Oct 16 post too, I had predicted based on my feeling at that time and some extrapolations.. I had at that time given a good chance for a potential BJP-AIADMK alliance and may be even a BJP-TMC. Both did not happen. I present here my feeling/prediction now that campaigning is almost coming to an end.

State Tot Min Max Avg Allies

UP 80 40 60 50 1
Bihar 40 16 24 20 5
Guj+MP+Raj 80 68 76 72
Mah 48 14 22 18 12-16
Jhknd 14 8 12 10
Chtsgrh 11 6 10 8
Kar 28 12 18 15
AP 42 2 6 4 13-15
TN 39 1 3 2 3-5
Assm 14 2 6 4
Odisha 21 4 8 6
Del 7 3 7 5
Har 10 6 8 7 1
Pun 13 1 3 2 3-5
Uknd 5 3 5 4
HP 4 2 4 3
JK 6 0 2 1
Goa 2 0 2 1
WB 42 0 8 4
Kerala 20 0 0 0
Others 17 2 6 4 2

Total 543 190 290 240 40-50

Some interesting points to note:

1) One major difference has been that I seperated the BJP numbers from that of allies.

2)  Min-Max range in Oct prediction was 160-340 .. Now its 230-340 for NDA (average 285)

3) There is still a chance, however small, of BJP getting to the majority mark on its own

4) More likely chance I feel is BJP getting to 240 mark, provided UP story is true ! 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Those last minute 'stop-modi' efforts

As I pen this on Apr 26, still 20 days to go for the results, elections are over for 349 seats. They are yet to be done for 194 seats (about 36%) -  AP (42) , Gujarat (26) , UP (47), Bihar (20), WB (32), Punjab (13) and the rest (14)

In short, the battle is far from over. And interestingly enough, the stop-Modi efforts has only gotten stronger. Be it reported booth rigging in many places, deletion of voters names (in Maharashtra for example), the multi-level attack on Modi and Gujarat ( RSVP + the likes of Chidambaram et al and then the so called "intellectuals" and even college principals and the Dawood-funded bollywood) or the usual twists and turns that Media gives to news.

There are also reports of Minority consolidation, the kind that does the 'strategic voting' to defeat BJP . And then there are reports of the Congress hoping to bag about 140 seats (based on 'internal surveys' which are nothing but local congress committees claiming they will win this many seats) and tying up with "the others" to stop Modi

Can the BJP campaign managers and Modi withstand this onslaught ? I think they are trying their best, but what I am more worried is the potential complacency that the voter might fall into. Recently I heard a friend of mine, who would have voted for BJP, but did not succeed in getting the voter id, say "NDTV has predicted 275 seats for NDA. Cool".

If he had genuinely tried for the voter card, I do not blame him for not voting, but yet, what I am worried is the potential sit-back attitude that the pro-Modi camp may suffer from. Modi himself in a recent campaign speech spelt it out quite clearly - the elections that are over, has ensured that UPA will not come back to power, but the elections that remain will decide how strong an NDA will come to power.

That said, and hoping that Apr 30, May 7 and May 12 will see a renewed push to help BJP cross the 220, I want to go back to the latest NDTV opinion poll and poke a few holes. The table below is from http://www.ndtv.com/elections/live-blog/show/ndtv-s-opinion-poll-latest-all-india-forecast-508454

Note that somehow Shivsena's predicted 15 seats (and hence NDA 37 out of 48 in Maharashtra) did not get added to the chart, so make that correction. Now, I want to point out a few interesting facts

1) In Mar opinion poll, NDTV had given BJP 20 seats in Karnataka... In April they have dropped it to 12 .. It looks like they saw some other opinion polls and realized that what they have predicted is way outside the trends others had predicted and made the correction.. So which one is the genuine one and which one is the intentional error ?

2) But in spite of that reduction of 8, the BJP tally itself has been predicted to increase from 212 or so to 226 between Mar and April... and this despite hardly any change in prediction for UP and Bihar.. It looks like these have been "readjusted" elsewhere..

Frankly, it appears as some sort of cook up, just to show that NDA is crossing the 272 mark - why would that be ? Either to claim that we were the only channel which predicted a 272+ (and in the event of an NDA closer to 230, they can always fall back to their Mar opinion poll !). Or, I suspect that Congress funded this to create a false impression that all that is needed is done, and the BJP worker can now relax..

Some of the numbers look too good to be true to me.. For example, NDA bagging 37 out of 48 seats in Maharashtra.. (BJP to win 19 out of 24 seats that it will contest). 7 seats in Orissa for BJP ?! 12 seats in Jharkhand ? Indeed the 50+ in UP is also a number that one will have to cross his fingers about. In seemandhra its predicting 3 seats for BJP, but its contesting itself only in 3 seats.. a 100% winnability ?!

There are however a few states where I tend to believe that the numbers for NDA may be slightly better than what is predicted in the chart. TN for example, predicts 0 for BJP.. ground reports and reports in Tamil media suggest BJP may bag Kanyakumari and Coimbatore .. I also have my fingers crossed about Thiruvananthapuram. In Karnataka too, I am hoping that the 12 moves up to a 15 at least..

But these ones and twos will not be much of a compensation for any major slip down from the predicted numbers in any other state.. For example if UP NDA tally goes closer to 40.. or if Bihar tally goes below 20 or the Maharashtra tally goes below 30, it will bad time for NDA. In fact this election is still such a cliff hanger that bad news from any one of these high-hope states can upset the NDA chances.  And in this context, one can understand why the anti-Modi crowd is trying every game in the book and has not given up yet

Personally I am still willing to bet only 250 seats for NDA ( 212 for BJP and 38 for allies) in the current scenario. But a smart handling of the remaining contest, and rising up of the voters above petty considerations and voting for a stable NDA govt, might see the BJP cross the Tsunami mark of 230.. who knows ? I wish them a 232 !! 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Joy of my first vote

April 17 it was ! I had been to Kerala on a 5 day 'vacation' and was just back that day in Bengaluru , where I had finally enrolled myself into the voters list and got my voter's id..

I use the word 'finally' with two intentions - first, though I had followed politics in India for close to 25 years now, I had never added myself to the voters list till now or had the ID, leave alone actually exercising that right. I was at IIT Chennai in 1998 and 99 and 19/20 yrs old when the General elections were held, but some how there was no idea that I could register as a voter in Chennai - even if I had, South Chennai perhaps did not even field a BJP candidate.Registering in Kerala would not have helped my cause much either as most likely the elections would have been held on a working day for me at IITM and I would not have traveled all the way to Kerala to potentially vote for a party that would not even fetch 10% of the vote share.

I left India for higher studies in 2001 and was back in 2008, so naturally did not have a chance in 2004. I do remember the day though, when in the US time morning after the India time morning when results were announced, I had woken up, and at the earliest checked the result, only to be semi-shocked to see that NDA did not make it a second time. Unlike those who believe that "India Shining" campaign was what caused a surprise defeat for NDA, I have always attributed two main factors - one, that Vajpayee had started becoming increasingly ill, and had started giving out the impression that he wasn't fully in control and yet BJP did not specify a clear succession plan. Two, a complacency that had crept in BJP rank and file. While the 2004 "coldness" among BJP volunteers were more due to "we will anyway win" false feeling, the 2009 was about "we are not going to make it" - and that was exactly what I had thought too and hence not opted for a voter id in 2009, even though I was very much in India. I was in Chennai, and BJP did not even have an alliance.. it had given up even before the actual polls (please read my initial posts under the label GE2014 for a more detailed view on this)

The second sense that I use the word "finally" is related to my efforts to secure a voter ID in Bengaluru, where I have been staying since 2012 . In 2013, there were the Karnataka state elections, and there was a campaign at my work place to apply for voter id and/or registration of the name. The application has to be filled and submitted online, the print out along with proof of residence (like a rental agreement) had to be put in a drop box in office - quite an easy process. In fact my intention to apply was more keeping in mind the 2014 general elections as I may not have anyway voted in the 2013 Karnataka assembly elections even if I had received my ID. However my application from March of 2013 did not come through even after a year. The online status simply showed "field verification completed".

I called up the CEO office and I was told that if it didn't come through in a few months, it ain't gonna come through and go and apply in the local ward office. Mar 16 or so was the last date, and I think I submitted an application around Mar 10 or so.. and on April 5, I had the card collected from the same ward office. Some times all the "online stuff" aren't quite as useful in India as of yet as it turned out in this case of my applying for the voter ID and name registration. Indeed, I did check online though that my name has been added to the list, which it was, and I also got the info of my polling booth and so on.

And finally, Apr 17, I voted for the first time in my life.. and that was for BJP, or shall I say Narendra Modi.. or perhaps I should say, for "India First". To me at least in the current scenario, all the three are the same.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

The numbers that matter

It is interesting to see that most of the non-BJP campaigners (Congresswallahs, the likes of Sharad Pawar, the Yechuris and Karat, and of course AK49) have made it a habit these days to keep repeating "there is no Modi wave". I bet that even in their sleep they must be waking up with the Modi cry and checking their bed !

So then, what exactly are the criteria to determine whether there is  modi wave or not ? Here is my take - BJP (not NDA) won about 116 seats in 2009 . A 50% increase in that can be attributed to anti-incumbency against current govt - so that makes it 174, which is also close to the maximum BJP has won so far which is 182 (1998 and 1999). Anything more than that, I would say is a Modi effect. In fact I would say the following if BJP alone wins as below

Modi wave: 50% - 75% increase - i.e 175 to 203
Modi flood: 75%-100% more, i.e 204 - 232
Modi Tsunami: > 100% more... i.e anything more than 232

Note that even the current UPA (not Congress, but UPA) has only 231 seats, and the rest is outside support. So a single party reaching 232+ will be an amazing achievement given the current multi party scenario and deserves a Tsunami name. We will know on May 16 if there is no Modi effect or if it is a wave, flood or a Tsunami.

For now,  we will have to depend on opinion polls. I do not believe that these are fool proof - not so much because of fear of being rigged by one party or other, but simply because the electorate numbers are huuge ( 80 crore+ ?) and a complex mix, and a sample size in the tens of thousand range is too small . Yet, these numbers may give a small sense, and being a number-man, I like to analyze these, knowing quite well that to a good extend these are fictitious. So for whatever it is worth, here is the table for NDA (Not BJP alone) as perdicted in end-March.


http://www.ndtv.com/elections/article/election-2014/ndtv-opinion-poll-advantage-nda-game-changer-uttar-pradesh-504607?curl=1396715705  (gives NDA - 33% vote share and UPA 27% )

http://ibnlive.in.com/newstopics/election-tracker.html ( NDA - 38%, UPA - 28%)

CNN-IBN does not give projected seats for "smaller states", and for the bigger ones too it gives a range. I have taken the average of that range in such cases.The averages of states however may not add up to the average of the final number given to NDA. IBN numbers are mainly to see where it sort of matched the NDTV numbers and where it does not.

It is interesting to note that the two opinion polls have significant differences in some matters - for example IBN gives NDA a 10% vote more than UPA and NDTV gives only 6% more, and this despite the fact that IBN has not counted TDP as part of NDA where as NDTV has !  States with 4 or more seats difference in prediction are mentioned in the comments section (Note: NDTVs seemandhra+telengana almost match IBNs TDP =15). Inspite of all those differences, the number predicted for BJP alone (remember, for IBN, its an average of the 206-218 range) almost match for both these - somewhere around 212. That makes it fall into the Modi flood category !

When results are declared on May 16, will it indeed be in the flood region ? Will it slip back into the wave region, or can it get into the Tsunami region ? If it is indeed in the flood region, and as predicted, gets the NDA to the 255 mark, where will the extra 20 come from ? AIADMK ? TRS ? YSRC ? BJD and TMC have said they will not support NDA, but will that change if BJP agrees for a non-Modi PM ? Time alone can answer !!

State Total NDTV CNN-IBN Comment
Bihar 40 21 25 IBN +4
Assam 14 3

Chattisgarh 11 8

Delhi 7 4 4
Gujarat 26 22 23
Haryana 10 5

Jharkand 14 10

Karnataka 28 16 10 IBN -6
Kerala 20 0 0
MP 29 25 26
Mah 48 36 27 IBN -9
Orissa 21 0 5 IBN +5
Punjab 13 6

Rajasthan 25 21 23
Seemandhra 25 14 0 IBN No TDP
TN 39 3 8 IBN +5
Telengana 17 2 0 IBN No TDP
UP 80 53 46 IBN -7
WB 42 0

Others 34 10

Total 543 259 240 IBN-TDP=15
BJP alone
214 212

Monday, March 17, 2014

BJP - short and medium term goals

This is kind of a speculative post and some random thoughts based on current fast changing political moves. In summary, it is becoming more and more clear that NaMo has a long term plan for BJP and India - atleast 10 yrs

* Quite a lot has been said already about Narendra Modi contesting from Varanasi - that the BJP wants to gain maximum seats from eastern UP and western Bihar. Quite possible and nothing wrong in it, but what many of this media analysis has missed is Modi's agenda for India beyond just the BJP winning seats. Remember the BIMARU states. Madhya Pradesh under Chouhan has tremendously progressed since. Rajasthan is back with BJP and this time around Vasundhara seems to drive a development agenda. The states formed out of the BIMARU - Chattisgarh is picking up and with Raman Singh's ambitious Raipur development agenda, it is bound to pick up faster. Once Bihar got rid of Lalu from power, it had started signs of coming out of the dark ages, but not at a pace matching with what it is capable of. Unfortunately UP has been the least changed and that is where Modi is hoping to make a difference. He realizes that if a strong India has to be built up, UP has to be "cleaned up", including the Ganga !

* So the plan will be to get maximum MPs for BJP , do good work for 3 years through them and then try to gain back power in the state in Mar 2017 elections. Kalyan Singh would be 85 yrs old by then, so it will be interesting to see who the State Leader would be. 3 years is quite a lot of time to see who will emerge

* Delhi seems another interesting case - with Dr HarshVardhan moving to Loksabha, it will be interesting to see who BJP's chief minister candidate will be. Most likely Delhi elections will be later this year. Social media is full of speculation that it may be Kiran Bedi - we will have to wait and see .

* In Uttarakhand too, former CMs of BJP are contesting for LS . It is likely that for the 2017 elections, BJP may want younger leaders to emerge and be the CM candidate

In short, there seems to be an underlying strategy that Modi is adopting, slowly but steadily - to usher in fresh blood at the state level, and move some of the experienced to the Lok Sabha

* What about Rajya Sabha ? With Jaitley moving to LS, BJP will need a good orator in RS . Well, frankly , the party doesn't need a mass leader - Jaitley never was one - but needs more of an intellectual there. Moreover many of the current Congress leaders in LS may end up running away from or losing this LS elections and end up being nominated to RS - BJP needs a sharp person to take them on in RS. My own feeling is that Subramaniam Swamy may fill that place in. Though Swamy is popular among Tweeples and in intellectual circles, he may not be popular enough among the common man to be able to win from an LS seat, say in Delhi, where his supporters wanted him

* What about states with weak BJP presence ? BJP will want a TDP government in Seemandhra and in turn getting TDP support for NDA. Similarly a TRS govt in Telengana and support for NDA. Both seem reasonably likely. If these alliances can be continued in the ShivSena model - where BJP continues to play junior partner but neverthless has a significant clout on its own as well - it will be long term beneficial for the party's South India influence. For TN , Modi for now may want to test the waters with the non-conventional (for BJP) alliance that it has built up , see the result and then decide on a future strategy for long term growth of the BJP. In many other places like Kerala, Assam, Bengal, Odisha, NE , the BJP is going alone, hoping to get as many votes as possible (and in some cases a few seats) and then build on that for future.

* Finally, what about the overall National plan. I still strongly feel that NDA may end up with a 240-250 this time, take outside support from parties that would want some one other than Modi as PM, which in reality will be a blessing in disguise if NaMo decided to dedicate his time to build up the party along the lines that I have mentioned above, while continuing to be the Gujarat CM till 2017 December when elections are due. He could take up the mantle of PMship in 2018 (he will be 67 then), preparing the party with a much bigger base for 2019 election (or a snap poll if any of the NDA allies pull out and make it fall), continue to be PM till 2024 (he will be 73) and retire

This is not to suggest that BJP should give up mission 272+ . Keep trying, but know that other possibilities exist as well


Friday, March 14, 2014

Why Tamil Nadu will be most exciting for me to watch in GE2014

As I was browsing news on a Friday night, I happened to hit upon this piece http://www.firstpost.com/politics/alagiri-meets-rajnath-offers-support-to-bjp-in-tamil-nadu-1434891.html . Interestingly it in the morning I had seen another news bit http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/alagiri-meets-rajinikanth-denies-discussing-politics/1/349548.html . For a moment I had thought that the firstpost news was the same as I saw in the morning, so much for the Rajnath Rajinikanth closeness in names. When I looked carefully, I saw that Alagiri has actually offered support to the BJP . This is another twist in the already interesting Tamil Nadu battle for Loksabha 2014

With the political scenario fast changing, it is yet to say that the alliances are final in Tamil Nadu, but for now it appears that it will be AIADMK vs BJP-MDMK-PMK-DMDK vs DMK - three cornered. There is indeed the Congress , Communists, Chaoists (you know who), but as long as they stand alone without an alliance, they are most likely to lose their deposit. In fact there are some smaller parties also in the rainbow alliance that BJP has knitted in Tamil Nadu. The seat sharing is not yet final and official, Tamil Nadu goes to poll on Apr 24 (ref: http://www.firstpost.com/politics/lok-sabha-elections-2014-all-the-dates-that-you-need-to-know-1420021.html ) so it should be out in a week or so. Deep within, this seems to be the state that I am most curious about. Read on

First and foremost, it is a state where BJP has nothing much to lose. So it is more or less tension free to follow it. In fact I am even interestingly watching how the alliance will split the seats - with DMDK demanding 14 or so, MDMK and PMK perhaps asking for close to 10 each, BJP will be left with just 5. So is it worth the effort for BJP ?

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tamil_Nadu_Lok_Sabha_results_chart.png

I think the following factors may have weighed in - on the one hand, Jayalalitha - known as a friend of Modi even when Modi was at the peak of his being criticised - and AIADMK in spite of being seen as a potential NDA post-polls seemed to be in no mood to have a pre-poll alliance.  It must have been futile for BJP to try. Though perhaps a good number of AIADMK volunteers and supporters themselves may have been in support of a pre-poll alliance with the BJP, Jayalalitha wants to get the maximum seats on her own to be an important player in the center, if not a PM candidate herself. BJP naturally did not want an alliance with DMK which is on the down-graph and also immersed in corruption. It is here that the rainbow alliance idea seems to have kicked and here is what BJP would gain

1) Unlike a case where BJP may have been a junior partnet to a big party like AIADMK and there by not able to assess its own strength and grow alliance with smaller parties will actually help it to grow, if properly dealt with.

2) How much ever Jaya is friends with Modi, in politics there are no permanent allies. So while keeping the post poll alliance with Jaya still a possibility, BJP through its pre-alliance also is perhaps hoping to try to get as many seats as possible so that Jaya doesn't end up with a 35 kind of number and making her a real big player. Jaya with a 25 will much more easier for BJP to handle. This is not to say that BJP will be happy to covertly help DMK bag the rest of the 14. On the contrary it will be trying its best to have this pre-poll alliance bag atleast 10 of that 14

3) A third factor, which actually may have been the most dominant is Modi's general line of thought in this election - Congress Mukt Bharat . Imagine if it were Congress who had come up with an alliance like this, it would have still kept the party alive in the state. By taking along all these parties, Modi has almost ensured that the Congress party is decimated in the state - in fact its leaders like Chidambaram, Jayanthi Natarajan et al are running away from even contesting http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/congress-leaders-opting-out-lok-sabha-polls-chidambaram-natarajan/1/349430.html . DMK-Congress alliance is still a possibility though such a move will mostly hurt the DMK more.

4) The only times BJP won seats in TN were in 1998 in alliance with AIADMK and 1999 in alliance with DMK. In 1998 it got to contest 5 seats of which it won 3. In 1999 the numbers were 6 and 4 respectively. Coimbatore, Nilgiris and Trichy were won both times by BJP and in 1999 there was additionally Nagercoil. In 1998 it came second in Chennai South and Nagercoil, while in 1999, it came second in Sivaganga and Tenkasi. That adds up to 3 (won twice) + 1 (won once, second once) + 3 (second once) = 7 seats. Even if it gets to contest that many in the ranbow alliance this time, it is more than what they got to contest in 1998 and 1999 , so its still a gain in that sense. How many of these will finally be won will be interesting to watch. Interestingly both MDMK and PMK were part of the BJP alliance in 1998 and 1999, but the "main party" - AIADMK and DMK respectively are not this time ! 


InterestinglyMDMK-PMK were in DMK alliance in 2004 (alliance swept all 39 seats) and in AIADMK alliance in 2009 (alliance got 12 seats) , and this will be the first time they are going outside AIADMK/DMK, so it will be much more of a do-or-die battle for them as compared to the BJP

So put that all together and it looks like the BJP strategy could range anywhere from "not bad" to "brilliant" - we will know on May 16 !

post script: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/specials/lok-sabha-elections-2014/news/TRS-turns-to-BJP-after-trouble-in-alliance-talks-with-Congress/articleshow/31959608.cms?intenttarget=no If BJP seals a pre-poll alliance with TRS in Telengana and TDP in seemandhra, it will almost ensure a 272+ for NDA.. well almost !