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

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.

Sources:  (gives NDA - 33% vote share and UPA 27% ) ( 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