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 ( ) 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)

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, 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 -

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 .

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 though I read it elsewhere)

C) 1998 : The Pokhran II tests - started on May 11  ( Operation Shakti )  .  I am glad Narendra Modi tweeted about it this year  

 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.  . 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 !