MITR1: The canvas : 2014 vis-a-vis 2019
The UPA is in the tenth year of its existence. As the general elections approach the UPA is confronted with a huge anti-incumbancy. There is a visible leadership failure. Its leadership is seen to be ineffective. Its governance is highly inadequate. The government has run out of ideas on how to bring the economy back on rail. The UPA has added corruption as a new directive principle of state policy. The ten year misrule of the UPA reflects on how ‘The Indian story’ was effectively destroyed. After UPA’s miserable track record of governance the need for an effective and clean government are the key agendas for the forthcoming general elections
Above words are from a rediff article of July 2013 (ref:1) , almost 10 months before the General Elections 2014 . Some more digging of data will show that those 10 months did not make things any better, if anything made them worse. I remember going to the local body office to get my voter-id made .. (Yes in spite of being pro one party for years, I did not vote.. but 2014, the urge was irresistible) . Scores of youngsters, many in the most modern looking outfits, thronged the same office .. some were there for a second time wanting to find out "what happened to my application?". The sense or urgency was obvious
In spite of that obvious undercurrent, even the hard core BJP supporter perhaps never felt that on its own BJP will cross 272 (282 at that time, but due to bye-poll losses, the number is now closer to 270). The amount of desperation and hence anti-incumbency was underestimated (who would have thought Cong will be down to a mere 44) . But perhaps more importantly, the lack of opposition unity was a bigger factor. BJP won 52% of the seats with an overall voteshare of 31%, which by the way is perfectly normal in a setup like Indian elections. Some say many of those smaller parties thought before the 2014 elections that it will be a hung result and so it can play the kingmaker role - like what happened with Kumaraswamy's JDS in 2018 Karnataka assembly
But realization has fast caught up with these parties that not uniting before the 2019 general elections, will again help BJP. Bye-elections have been a 'proving ground' for them. Be it the Loksabha elections of Gorakhpur or Kairana in UP or the assembly election of Jayanagar in Karnataka. So does that mean that its a lost cause for BJP if in 2019 too, like the bye-elections, the opposition parties unite ? After all in 2014, BJP got only 31% voteshare, so all it takes is even half of the remaining 69% to unite, isn't it ? Indeed, opposition unity will be a big challenge for BJP, but things dont work in an arithmetic fashion.. see the below analysis from the Kairana bye-election
In 2014, late BJP MP Hukum Singh secured more than 50 per cent of the vote share which was more than the combined votes of the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal, contesting separately. The BJP MP won by a huge margin of 2,36,988 votes. In 2017, during the UP assembly elections also the BJP maintained its hegemony and four out of five assembly constituencies of Kairana Lok Sabha seat was won by the party. But then the vote share of the BJP was 38.2% whereas the vote share of the united opposition was 57.2% with a difference of 19 %. However, in the recently concluded Kairana By-polls this massive gap of 19% has been just reduced to a mere 4.6%. Vote share of the united opposition candidate is around 51% and vote share of the BJP candidate is around 46%. [ref-2]
One can look at it from two ways -- one, in the bye-election, BJP could not manage the >50% vote share that it got in 2014. Two, it did however manage to reduce the gap compared to the assembly election result. If anything, one thing should be clear. The voting patterns have become so complex that no psephologist can predict what is going on. Which is where perhaps the unspoken, unwritten Amit Shah mantra makes sense .. keep trying to maximize the vote share... remember Gujarat 2017 - see pic-1 . True BJP could not garner the 60% it got in 2014LS, but if it had not been able to make that 1.5% or so improvement over 2012, it may have fallen short of majority.. and remember, even a seat or two short of majority, its likely that others will grab power.
Modi's target for 2019 should then be 50% voteshare... Wow, that sounds crazy isnt it ? Increase the vote for BJP from 31% to 50% .. a jump by 2/3. Forget 50%, isn't even 40% a day dream -- in 2014, in spite of such desperate situation, BJP could get only 31%. In 2019, there will be "anti-incumbency" too..
And already there is the "middle class" that is not happy for not raising the tax slabs to its expectations.. for not reducing the fuel prices when global prices fell and so on .. and the hindutva class for the "govt not doing enough for the hindu causes".. and indeed the "dont need reasons, will never vote BJP" class too
The counter narrative seems to be predominantly rooted in the TINA or RITA arguments. That there is no dependable alternative.. or that Rahul is the alternative.. There surely is a big percentage of people, for whom definitely the govt has done better that UPA, and feel that if Modi isnt relected, and Cong or a coalition comes to power, it will be "back to square one". In other words, the line that "BJP has not given me enough reasons to vote for it in 2019, but Cong has given me more than enough reasons that I will vote for BJP again in 2019". I go one step more - does Modi deserve to be re-elected on its merits?
I have followed politics and governments in India from Sep 1989 onwards.. so about to complete 29 years. Of all the governments I have seen in that span, I absolutely have no doubt that the current govt is #1 .. Its an inner conviction that no amount of counter propaganda can change, but can I express myself to convince the following a) voted for Modi in 2014, but thinking of opposition or NOTA in 2019 .. b) did not vote in 2014, perhaps not even made a voter-card .. c) Voted against BJP in 2014 .. Clearly it gets tougher from a to c.
But here I attempt.. a 10 part series - Merit Is The Reason (MITR) -to vote for BJP/Modi in 2019. In the comments section, I post what I plan for Part2-10, but for the impatient ones, I leave you with one chart for now, comparing inflation percentages of UPA-2 vs "NDA-2"(i.e Modi) .. see pic-2
3) Pic-1 from https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/gujarat-verdict-explained-bjp-gains-1-25-in-vote-share-than-2012-but-loses-16-seats-heres-why/articleshow/62126440.cms
4) Pic-2 from http://www.inflation.eu/inflation-rates/india/historic-inflation/cpi-inflation-india.aspx