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Updated: September 21, 2013 00:34 IST

The BJP’s ‘akla chalo’ challenge

Vidya Subrahmaniam
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India’s political history shows that since 1984, there has been no unified national vote, nor has a government been formed without a significant coalition. Will Narendra Modi defy this trend?

A peculiar contradiction marks Indian politics today. On the streets of metro cities and even smaller towns, only one name is being heard: Narendra Modi. His connect with the young and the middle classes is becoming increasingly apparent — in the crowds that turn up to hear him, in the frenzied support he commands in cyberspace, and in the fact that he is being projected as a leader with his pulse on the future. The significance of this in a rapidly urbanising and demographically young country can hardly be overstated.

Gravitational pull

When an emerging mass leader generates this kind of buzz, he exerts a gravitational pull on politics as a whole. A case in point is V.P. Singh, whose popular appeal brought the entire Opposition to his door. Importantly, corruption was the biggest campaign point against the Rajiv Gandhi regime, as is the case with the United Progressive Alliance government today. However, unlike then, the pulsating following the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Prime Minister-in-waiting commands has not translated into a discernible political shift towards him and the BJP. Indications so far are that Mr. Modi has set the opposite impulse in motion.

Indeed, the Gujarat Chief Minister’s presence at the helm has undone the one achievement that brought the BJP to power: coalition building. The BJP is back today to the pre-1998 isolation that frustrated its government-forming efforts, and which isolation only ended when it surrendered the very thing that defined the party — its core Hindutva agenda. Reaching power through alliances also meant backgrounding the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the BJP’s father organisation distinguished by its regressive outlook towards modernity, women and minorities.

In 2013, the RSS is not just back, it has decreed and ensured that Mr. Modi’s elevation takes place. This itself is hard to reconcile with the image that is being crafted for Mr. Modi. His national projection is of a modern and aspirational leader but he seems to exist at the pleasure of a mentor seen as a polar opposite to these ideas.

The BJP had walked a lonely path until 1984, when it acquired the Shiv Sena as its first ally. A whole 12 years later, in the 1996 general election, it made a vital breakthrough in the form of seat adjustments with the Samata Party, now the Janata Dal (United), and the Haryana Vikas Party. Post-poll, a fourth member, the Shiromani Akali Dal, came on board. That election was a watershed moment in Indian politics with the BJP displacing the Congress as the single largest party with its own career best tally of 161 seats. And yet, neither that stunning feat nor a first invite from President Shankar Dayal Sharma set off the expected rush towards the BJP, which bowed out of office in 13 days with the Akali Dal as its sole conquest. The message to the BJP was clear: with Hindutva-RSS in the forefront, it could not win friends for all the inducements in the world.

The man who changed things around for the BJP was none other than Lal Krishna Advani. Though the Ayodhya warrior had consciously taken the backseat to Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the 1996 election, he realised that the change of face had deluded none among the BJP’s potential partners. Thus began the marketing of Brand Vajpayee: the reinvented Atalji was a middle-roader, a moderate who had wearied of the Hindutva baggage, who disdained the RSS, and who, if need be, would jettison the party’s core agenda. It took two further years for the strategy to fructify but fructify it did. Mr. Vajpayee went into the 1998 general election with 8 major allies who included, incredibly, the All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. Post-poll, another ideological opponent, the Telugu Desam Party, was won over and the first BJP-led government was born. The National Democratic Alliance was founded on the agreement that all Hindutva demands would be dropped, and in the pre-term general election held one year later, more parties, among them the atheist Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Jammu & Kashmir National Conference, hopped on to the BJP bandwagon.

But as it gradually became clear to the BJP’s allies, the change they saw in the party was cosmetic. The 2002 Gujarat violence started the process of rethink in the allies, who, though slow to depart the coalition, did depart, and in each instance citing the Gujarat violence as the reason. The first to go, in 2002, was Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Jan Shakti Party, followed the same year by the National Conference. By 2004, the NDA had unravelled. And unbeknown to the BJP, another winning alliance was taking shape under Sonia Gandhi.

Today the BJP has only two allies, the Shiv Sena and the Akali Dal, both in ideological sync with the party. But unlike in 1996, when the BJP was torn about being shunned, in 2013 it is glorying in being alone. The RSS is pressing the BJP to be unapologetic about its original agenda. The Sangh has also made it clear that any potential partner would come to the BJP on the party’s terms, the exact reverse of 1996-1998 when the Atal-Advani pair sought partners on terms set by the latter.

The calculation obviously is that Mr. Modi’s early projection will trigger an infectious voting frenzy, enabling him to single-handedly pull off a BJP victory. If this happens, the Gujarat Chief Minister will be the first since V.P Singh to have set off a personality-induced wave. But for all the adulation he commanded, Mr. Singh was nothing without the political support he got. His own Janata Dal was formed by merging the Jan Morcha with the Janata Party and the two factions of the Lok Dal. The Janata Dal and a phalanx of regional parties together formed the National Front which was in turn supported in government by the BJP and the Left parties. So Mr. Singh’s illusory single-handed victory was a product in fact of support at every stage from a conglomerate of non-Congress parties.

Not just this. The spectacular Opposition unity could not decimate the Congress, which swept the south against all predictions. The Congress won 39 of 42 seats in Andhra Pradesh, 27 of 28 seats in Karnataka and 14 of 20 seats in Kerala. In Tamil Nadu, the Congress-AIADMK combine won 38 of 39 seats. The south defied the `VP’ wave, initiating the trend of fragmentation that persists to this day.

Indeed, the last nation-wide wave, which was in reaction to Indira Gandhi’s assassination, was in 1984. Since then the regional parties have become stronger, resulting in different regions voting differently. The consequence of this has been to prevent any one leader from being able to win an election entirely on his or her own strength.

Even in the aftermath of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination in 1991, the Congress did not win a majority. Every single government formed since 1991 has been a coalition government. The BJP’s two big successes, in 1998 and 1999, were products of alliance making. In 1998, three significant alliances contributed to the party’s overall tally of 182 seats. The BJP for the first time picked up three seats in Tamil Nadu via its ally, the AlADMK. In Orissa, it hit the jackpot in combination with Naveen Patnaik’s Biju Janata Dal. As many as 30 of the BJP’s seats in this election came through vote transfers by allies. In 1999, the BJP had five successful pre-poll alliances — in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. Of the BJP’s 182 seats, as many as 45 came through vote transfer by its allies, the TDP, the JD(U), the BJD, the DMK and the Trinamool Congress.

Need for allies

The truth is that there is no unified national vote today, and for all the bluster of the RSS, the BJP will need allies and will seek allies. Some potential partners such as the Rashtriya Lok Dal and the TDP are admittedly under cadre pressure to align with Mr. Modi’s BJP. Yet consider the current picture in Parliament. For obvious reasons there was across-the-board political consensus on the need for a food security legislation. However, the UPA’s draft bill itself met with wide opposition. There was not one non-UPA party that did not want an amendment pressed. The Left and the BJP wanted the bill further radicalised with universal rather than targeted coverage of beneficiaries.

So logically speaking, at least the BJP-Left amendments should have gone through. Instead, all the amendments were defeated. One of Sushma Swaraj’s proposals was defeated 241 to 109 votes and one of Murli Manohar Joshi’s amendments was defeated 284 to 117 votes. In other words, the BJP was unable to ensure the full presence of its own MPs, forget those of its two allies, when its amendments to an important bill came up for voting. How did the minority UPA manage 284 votes when no party was in agreement with its bill?

Seven months before the big fight, and notwithstanding the UPA’s down-in- the-pits status, the political congregation is around the Congress alliance rather than the BJP alliance. If Mr. Modi manages to win the election by himself, or even by winning over new allies, he will have beaten the odds and rewritten India’s political history.

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Its easy to make a wish. In practical terms, 273 can only be won from
electoral map of all constituencies of India. So, author would do well
to start plotting every state, seats there in and consider whether BJP
is there at all? For example in Tamilnadu. Kerala, Andhra, Orissa,
West Bengal. Jammu and Kashmir, Entire North East, Sikkim etc which
have a total of 200 plus seats. Further In Maharastra, Punjab, Bihar,
Jarkhand, UP, Haryana, Karnataka; BJP is a partial force meaning they
cant contest more than half seats of total 200 seats. BJP is a force
on its own only in few states like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi,
Himachal, Utranchal, Chatisgah and Madhya Pradesh. Even if author
gives 100% to Mr. Modi that means 110 seats....So how can a political
party dream of 273 unless it is in illogical world. Thats only a
slogan to keep cheering new crowd but in near future coalition alone
would decide who rules center in India.

from:  Daman Prakash
Posted on: Sep 22, 2013 at 09:11 IST

Ajit George in commenting section. I think you never saw Gujrat like
Gujratis saw before Modi. It was like a war torn state with no
electricity and roads under cong. Further in 2002 the bhuj earthquake
just doubled the misery. Please don't comment with bias and prejudice
towards Gujratis.

from:  Patel saab
Posted on: Sep 22, 2013 at 02:36 IST

The comparison does not take into account the possibility of almost
150 million first time voters in the age group of 18-25 yrs which i
am sure the author of the article has deliberately chosen not to give
importance to. Because if this single important factor is looked
into, almost entire 40% of voter will be first time youth and survey
after survey it is beyond doubt now that BJP and more importantly
Modi has huge support among them, the whole premise and an absurd
conclusion will fall flat. Even in the loss of 2004 election, BJP was
single largest party with much more seat than congress. Recent trend
as in 2009 election, it can be argued that CONGRESS won on
personality following of Manmohan Singh and so election today are
becoming more individual. It is another story though that Manmohan's
silence was misinterpreted.

from:  Rohit
Posted on: Sep 22, 2013 at 02:06 IST

On the streets of metro cities and even smaller towns, only one name is
being heard: Narendra Modi. ---- When I was in South India last month, I
asked 5 people whether they know Modi. And the answer was 'who?'.

from:  sheeja
Posted on: Sep 22, 2013 at 01:03 IST

A lucid analysis with no factual inaccuracies.The coming Lok Sabha poll
has totally become Modi-centric. If it had not been Modi but someone
else for PM,so much of contentious,conflicting comments would not have
come.Modi has no doubt remained a controversial person thanks partly to
his own abrasive style of functioning and chiefly to a decade long
sustained anti-Modi Propaganda spearheaded by the Congress and propped
up by the media.There are people saying that they will quit India,if
Modi becomes PM.There are also eminent men wishing Modi to become
PM.The former SC Judge Sri V.R.Krishna Iyer has said that Modi has
positive qualities of nationalism and comity of cosmic dimension.He has
also said that as far as he could gather,corruption in public life has
been eliminated in Gujarat. A Socialist himself Sri Iyer has wished
Modi to become PM.In the present unenviable state of the country,there
can be no appeal against Sri Iyer's above judgement on Modi.

from:  G.Jagannathan
Posted on: Sep 22, 2013 at 00:03 IST

Stereotyping RSS but never getting the facts straight.

The media pundits have been proven wrong so many times in the past in so many
elections in India.
That is because they don't have the full facts to begin with and are merely filling in
as opinionators. In case of Narendra Modi' popularity, the following FACTS stand
out and are worth reporting:

1. For the first time a man from humble origins (son of a chai walla) has risen
through the ranks to become the leader of a state 4 times. He belongs to a
maligned political party as per the media. BUT, No one ever reflects on the party
culture that allows people to lead based on proven merit regardless of his caste or
family.
No one can dare imagine the same in Congress happening ever. A political party
that cannot encourage leadership values based on merit has lost it before the
battle.
2. In 10 years, we have seen Congress undo the middle class's rise filling only their
pockets. Just opposite to Gujarat.

So which party is regressive?

from:  Anamendra Bharati
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 22:04 IST

So, Mr Ajit George,
My simple question is- whom would you support in next Elections. UPA has
already proved that it's incapable and Namo carries atleast high hopes
for performing well. We have to give opportunity to someone who we
believe has ability. If you want to get guarantee first, then we cannot
give vote to anyone in such situations.

from:  Anupam Sharma
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 21:48 IST

Ram or Ravan India needs stable government...that's it........

from:  Muthumalayalasundaram
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 20:27 IST

It is heartening to see that Mrs vidya has started or at least pretended to take Modi seriously.Many were of the opinion that BJP cannot dare to do that.If BJP is to be in the reckoning first they have to improve their individual tally.Only Modi is their best bet & they have taken the gamble.As for post election govt formation BJP has all options including going after some other "inclusive" personality.For a party which has shown its veteran Advani its place any thing is possible.

from:  Ramakrishnan P
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 20:13 IST

"Old habits die hard." We have two very wonderful recent electoral experiences where sky High expectations of the media and the voters were belied, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. It was expected that the new leaders, who projected themselves to be dynamic and visionary, would bring about tangible changes on the ground but expectations were belied. They tried to bring about some cosmetic changes while changing nothing for the people. If I may dare to predict, Namo will behave exactly the way he has behaved earlier. Nothing will change on the ground for the people. When Namo took over Gujarat it was in a comfortable position viz-a-viz other states. The only credit which accrues to him is that he maintained the the state as handed over to him by his predecessors and did not allow its position to deteriorate. In the case of India huge amount of groundwork needs to be done and it is an overwhelming task which can be done only by a visionary and intellectual leader and not a rabble rouser

from:  Ajit George
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 19:59 IST

I think in this elections we will see a very clear trend. BJP / Modi's current seat bank is the western and central India (Gujarat, MP, Rajasthan, Delhi, Chattisgarh, Punjab, Maharashtra, Goa). Accounting for a little less than a third of the LS seats, these states will probably bring over 100 MPs for the BJP and will primarily be fought on the development plank. To these, the seats of the north eastern states (UP and Bihar) will be fought on the counter-polarization plank. If the BJP succeeds here, it the BJP will have the entire Hindi belt with 200 (including allies) of the ~300 seats. Given that TDP and AIADMK are not averse to allying and hoping for a few seats from Karnataka, the situation will be markedly different from 1996; BJP would probably form a government with 6-8 allies. But the big IF is UP.

from:  Nirmesh Mehta
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 19:49 IST

If BJP managed to win 200 odds seats. Every regional party would rush to support BJP to occupy power. Their ideology won't stop them. These coalition governments survive full time, because no regional political party want to loose power and face elections.

from:  Rajasekar
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 19:33 IST

"The message to the BJP was clear: with Hindutva-RSS in the forefront, it could not win friends for all the inducements in the world" - wrong premise. The message that went out was that the BJP would not indulge in horse trading even if it meant the fall of the government in 13 days. all the parties have acknowledged this later.

from:  Anboli
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 18:38 IST

One thing is clear,we are not in the 90s but in 2013.The nation is fed
up with the misrule of present dispensation and looking forwards to some
alternative.Modi is that alternative.He has proved his capability in
GUJRAT and can bring about the change the country is longing for.The
modern India needs a visionary leader like Modi.The upcoming election
will surprise all the critics of Modi.

from:  M.Janardhan Rao
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 18:36 IST

I am not surprised at the conclusions in the article. The details of the present scenario has been well collected but they have been utilized for cooking up a result based more on wishes than on logic.
The present government is worse than no government. It should be remembered that Chanakya once said that the subjects will desert a ruler who is ineffective. In his days, it was an invader who would receive a welcome in the belief that anything is better than the present. Now it is an opposition party. The man has given good governance, produced visible development which is played down by the media (. It does not matter )but recognized
by the persons and countries that count By the way, Ms Subramniam, Hindutva is not a criminal way of life.

from:  Dr S Srinivasan
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 18:01 IST

This analogy is very retrograde and would not be followed this time in 2014, as erstwhile
allies of NDA, are waiting for an freak opportunity to throw the UPA out. as they are totally
against the UPA because of UPAs failure in supporting the opposition States and stealing
the State Governments domain, like food, education, and not proper sharing of taxes by
Central Government. Opposition parties ruled States are given a step motherly treatment
and those supporting are favored, like Bihar. As the author knows, TDP, Trinamool,
AIADMK, BJD, PMK, MDMK, badly require a change at the Centre and participate in the new
BJP Government under Modi to get the infra structural facilities Roads, Water, Rail, Power,
for their respective States, which have been denied repeatedly by UPA, a very bad policy adopted by them and which will mark a impact in the poll outcome. Regarding BJP-Left amendments defeated, it is beacuse, as coveyed by Leader of Opposition, they are waiting to form a new Govt.

from:  Sundar
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 17:40 IST

Excellent analysis on government formation in India in a coalition era.
But Vidya Subrahmaniam missed a vital point. While comparing V P Singh and Narendra Modi the author overlooked the polarizing personality of the Gujarat leader, his image in broadly secular India, particularly among minorities, the taint of 2002 communal riots and his dictatorial attitude.
BJP seemed to be banking on double-point electoral strategy: Hindutva and Development but it is getting more and more into its own trap each passing day. By projecting Modi as its sole face in the coming elections the saffron has done a grave damage to its chances even before the match started.
Baring a few, most saffron party leaders and followers seemed to be taking the electoral success for granted. They think that by declaring Modi as BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate the party has made him the Prime Minister of India. If this is the arrogance and illusion they have I can see things coming in the coming days.

from:  Baikaar
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 16:21 IST

A thought provoking piece, thowing light on current political sitution
and possible combination after election. Though its untimely and
premature to decide on the outcome of next election but looking at the
current state of country; economy in the rut, inflation high, interest
rate at peak and myriad of scams unearthed,its very obvious that anti
incumbency wave is blowing and sweeping across nation and if BJP
doesn't gain anything out of that, congress will certainly loose big.
National elections in India have been unpredictable, it defies the
popular chart busters and hype when comes to ground. Therefore BJP's
attempt to project Modi and assume to gain majority is very
challenging, as rightly mentioned its a gamble where the odds are with
BJP indeed but one never know when the dice turns turtle with a sudden
jerk and fate decided. Modi does present a strong case but forming
government will need allies and even if most of the parties have
parted ways, they may come back later.....

from:  neeraj bhatt
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 16:14 IST

I think the writer has omitted the fact that vast majority of voters are
reeling under Congress misrule, appeasement, arrogance, corruption, mega
scams etc. It will be much better, if, Mr. Modi wins majority of seats
for BJP. I have just came back from India and large number of people,
young, middle aged and older people, said that they will vote BJP, if,
Mr. Modi is nominated for PM post. I think it is almost impossible for
Congress to win next elections, even with parties like SP, DMK etc.
Congress will lose Andhra and may be Arunachal.

from:  B Mehta
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 16:10 IST

Well, if voters are going to be happy by just defeating the Congress
and UPA, such a possibility has clearly emerged. But citizens who are
impartial are not impressed by the rise in popularity of Mr. Narendra
Modi and his nomination for PM’s post well in advance. That in no guarantee of good governance, although Mr. Modis’ admirers may think so.
If the Congress culture consists of corruption, nepotism, and incompetence, BJP too has many leaders who are not only incompetent (to provide good governance) but are also corrupt. And that is biggest obstacle to the success of Mr. Narendra Modi led Central govt. Hence there may be not much to celebrate the formation of the NDA govt. in 2014. Second issue is whether the BJP bosses and BJP’s alliance partners in NDA would allow the freedom to Mr. Modi to take tough
decisions.
It is, of course, wise to wish that the country will indeed get a govt. that will deliver good performance.

from:  Narendra M Apte
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 15:41 IST

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Modiji is going to achieve his goal since he is a brave heart. Allies will come next, first maximize seats for BJP Shiv Sena and SAD. AIDMK is lurking. BJP rule states will exhibit magical show in 2014 election

from:  M Vyas
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 15:17 IST

If Mr.Vajpayeeji was named as PM candidate of BJP, he and his party may
win even without election campaign just like late MGR did. Let us see
what Mr.Modi does. Why Mr.Advaniji failed when he was given a chance?

from:  R.Ganesan.
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 15:14 IST

India need change to make it dynamic and vibrant.Situation warrants a new leader to lead the Country to a new height.India failed in all fronts.There is nothing to be proud of India,except being Indian.
If Modi can bring the desired change, it is well and good for the Country.Congress is too old to manaage ably the affairs of the Country.All indians should strive for change of government in the Country.A strong and united India is need of the hour,and if the BJP and MOdi can provide this,then they should be solidly supported.There is no scope for the Congress to mend its ways or provide any hope hope to the people.

from:  K.B.Sundaram
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 14:40 IST

First of all, it is "Ekla chalo", not "Akla chalo". :-)
And I don't really understand when you say that middle classes support Mr.Modi. Only the neo-liberalist middle classes support him topped by the corporate folks. The working classes (to which I belong) do not support him or his pro-corporate policies. A person who looks at growth in terms of numbers and percentages and does not give credence to inclusive growth and equally distributed benefits, will not and SHOULD NOT become the prime minister of this wonderful nation, in my humble opinion. Now that is not to say that I endorse the corrupt incompetent dispensation of the UPA, but it is really illogical to say that just because the UPA is corrupt, we should automatically bring Mr.Modi.

from:  Rasul Sheik Muhammad
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 14:26 IST

A brilliant and scholarly analysis by Ms.Subrahmaniam and let me also add that this is one of the only few objective reports on Mr.Modi that this newspaper has written till date.
Coalition building is going to be the key and that is the hard truth for any national party which dreams of forming a government. But mention needs to be made regarding Mr.Modi reaching out for coalition partners in the recent days. In Andhra, he openly appealed to the TDP, he has been making overtures to Dr.Jayalalithaa and Ms.Banerjee too. So to say that Mr.Modi does not want alliance partners and is obdurate is not correct because he is too experienced a politician to ignore this reality. Having said that, those people who try to impose their "topi-tilak" politics forcibly on others also need not be given too much attention as they are trying to safeguard their own vote bank rather than have any greater vision beyond that.

from:  N. K. Shenoy
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 14:20 IST

Sardar Patel the iron man had done a herculean task of integrating around 650 odd princely states during the time of independence and creating an identity as India, however after 65 years thereafter the number and dependence on regional parties have increased many folds. Thus the support at the center of regional party is at a cost. The cost can vary like bailing from corruption charges from CBI, more funds, minister ship of choice, doing leap gains to industrialist having their kins as directors and other illegal favors. All these only weaken the democracy in the long run with very weak central government
We request the President Of India, the Supreme Court, Election Commission of India or any competent authority to formulate law which allows the collision of political parties to be formed before the elections, so that 2 or 3 collision run for elections with common principles. This may minimize the political opportunism and eliminate root cause of all the problems. The future formation of political parties may be banned

from:  Mukesh
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 14:11 IST

I think whole senerio will depend on the assembly results in hindi heartland.
Whenever BJP gets good number os seats it was based on northen states. Author
analysis all points and put a picture on past data and we know history repeats so modi
should take strietgy accordingly.

from:  rajendra chaudhary
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 14:04 IST

Sardar Patel the iron man had done a herculean task of integrating around 650 odd princely states during the time of independence and creating an identity as India however after 65 years thereafter the number and dependence on regional parties have increased many folds. Thus the support at the center of regional party is at a cost. The cost can vary like bailing from corruption charges from CBI, more funds, minister ship of choice, doing leap gains to industrialist having their kins as directors and other illegal favors. All these only weaken the democracy in the long run with weak central government
We request President Of India, Supreme Court, Election Commission of India or any competent authority to formulate law which allows the collision of political parties to be formed before the elections so that 2 or maxm 3 collision run for elections with common principles which will minimize the political opportunism and all evils associated with it. The formation of parties be banned.

from:  Mukesh
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 14:03 IST

The author deserves kudos for her unbiased and dispassionate
analysis.Maybe there is one point which has been missed by her.The BJP
since 1990s have a style of offensive planning and they have not moved
out of that strategy.Before every election atleast five months before
the media spokespersons like Venkiah,Pramod Mahajan and even Advani
would seed an idea that BJP would capture at least 300 seats.At the time
of elections the results would be for everyone to see.Except during
Vajpayee era they could muster only a coalition.Modi is no
exception.He has helped to polarise the BJP and RSS parivar to his
side and had sidelined all the seniors.Otherwise there is nothing new
and I would be surprised if they win beyond 150.He is trying to
replicate the strategy that he adopts in Gujarat. He can rarely
succeed.I mindful of the fact that in the four states that go to Polls
they may win three and that is not because of Modi factor.By
projecting Modi thay have galvanised non BJP Votes AGAINST THEM.

from:  Ram.S
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 13:17 IST

Very good analysis without any bias. I request Hindu to publish only such articles to retain its unique identity. Other wise readers like me who are reading Hindu for the last 40 years will be disappointed.

from:  Narayana
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 13:14 IST

India really needs a change in the political structure at the center. Corruption and communalism will exists whoever comes in the power which deviate the attention of the whole country from development activities into mere debates of blaming each other. A single party government concept in the center will no more exists, and instead the politcal leaders should discuss of forming a national government consisting of all parties to move the country into the right direction for a prosperous, growing, corruption/communalist free India. Being the goal for all the political parties is one which is lifting India to a developed state in all the sense, why this concept cannot be discussed and worked out?

from:  Mohd. Ayoob
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 13:12 IST

A very thoughtful analysis. The Indian voters are still influenced by religion, caste and a third factor, those who would do anything for money; it is not about what is good for the country. The party or the alliance that can optimize on these factors would emerge the winner. As analyzed by the author, never had been an occasion that people have voted differently- i.e. reasons based on quality of leadership in terms of National interests. BJP in its present outfit, is in a crucial stage of its identity to prove as a Party that would be fair to the minority religious communities, particularly the Muslims. This sort of apprehension in Muslims is
being fanned and kept ablaze by parties wearing ''secular' mask'. Modi led BJP has a Herculean task on hand not only to improvise tactics to alley such fears in the Minority communities, but also to address the caste based politics to woo the voters from the mighty money powered and 'secular' clad UPA , notwithstanding all the scams.

from:  M.R.Sampath
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 12:42 IST

Re: the last para, why is it that there are more potential allies for
Congress than BJP. I answer as follows:
1) For fear of losing Muslim votes. from 7% during independence,
today possibly they account for 20%, in states like Assam &
W.Bengal,it is around 30%. so what-they vote as a block unlike the
Hindus. If there is a Hindu consolidation,may be hypothetical,all
these equations will change.
2)Is it ideological? Certainly not, then how Congress and CPM could
form govts. in Kerala in alliance with IUML,Kerala Congress, or
Congress in alliance with MIM at the centre? So what is the reason-
may be other consideration(s),can be guessed but cannot be proved.

from:  s.asim
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 12:31 IST

While it is a good analysis by the author without blaming the BJP for the gujrat riots inspite of having a leftist bias, i think few more points should have been included in the analysis.

The BJP of the 1980s was totally different from what it is today; infact Indian politics has quite changed. In a word, one can say we have more federalized national politics. Also, the ideological and ground base of the RSS has changed dramatically.
The author also misses the important point that it is more of coalition politics and not just "BJP" politics. It must also be compared with Narsimharao government. Also, few parties which change sides many a times over some issues was missed. AIADMK, DMK, TDP, TMC, BSP, SP etc. The "Atal Bihari" effect is also in minds of the people today. It was not an "engineered effect"
Neverthless, it was a commendable piece of analysis mostly unbiased. Good job done.

from:  Raju
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 12:24 IST

Vidya's commentary reflects her anti-BJP forte is evident once again when she compared the partners in NDA alliance dropping down during the 2004 and after. What happened to UPA's friends like TMC, DMK since 2004 was not portrayed by her and the fact that UPA is surviving only because of the 'CBI-sponsored' opposition of SP and BSP, was not highlighted in that piece. While admitting that Modi's presence is polarizing the youth and middle class towards BJP instead of based on communal lines as would have been projected by Congress and its supporters , it was admitted that Congress is in the 'down-the-pit' status honestly by her.

from:  MVJRao
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 11:41 IST

a very well thought thru article. No wonder, the smart Americans don't give Modi a visa. they know, what the reality of BJP is. Modi is a cyber phenomena and a urban middle class hope. That will make no difference to the electoral fortunes of regional parties in the states. Modi cannot win in all of south India, and hardly a seat in all of east India. battleground will be UP and Bihar. If Amit shah instigates more riots, UP is also a gone case.

from:  Anil
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 11:40 IST

Well analysed. I hope and pray that Indian voters defeat this corrupt
UPA dispensation and its supporters. Narendra Modi brings hope to India.
India deserves a decisive leader to save the future generations.
Congress and its allies have made generations poor and disabled. People
should realize this and bring in BJP to power. I dont think BJP will
bring in any communal agenda once they are in Power and the governments
of Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh are the testimony of BJP's secular
credentials.

from:  Chandrakant Marathe
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 11:36 IST

Congress folks are masters at political management. If only the BJP could take a leaf or two out of Congress' book, we would have had more non-Congress govt. in past 20 years.
But the way RSS is driving the BJP these days, it seems difficult that they will win any big allies. In any case, rather than RSS driving the country, its better Congress gets another chance loot the land.

from:  Harshal
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 11:31 IST

The crowning of Narendra Modi as the BJP's PM candidate is the culmination of the events set in motion by the RSS post the 2009 shocking defeat of the BJP. The "Islamic terror" phobia created by the Sangh and the strange bomb blasts before each election worked to their advantage in all elections upto Karnataka 2008, but the diminishing returns started after that.
They then set in motion the players who went on to defame this government. Subramanian swamy, Baba Ramdev, Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi are among the prominent players against "corruption" who had unwitting assistance from the CAG Vinod Rai and an overactive judiciary. All of them have now joined the Modi bandwagon thus exposing the plot. Having successfully besmirched the UPA and paralysed governance they went in for the kill by anointing Mr. Modi who is a pastmaster at polarising votes.
The NDA is sure to gain in UP courtesy Amit Shah and allies will join post poll 2014 if they have the numbers.

from:  C Balachander
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 11:30 IST

I think the Author has got it entirely wrong. The three BJP states, Gujarat, MP and Chattisgarh have been doing very well in last 10 years. quitely, unlike congress or the regional parties, BJP has built up the base in these states, based on good governance/growth story. the exception was Karnataka. If BJP wins again in state elections in MP and chattisgarh then you are possibly looking at a solid base from these states to to Lok Sabha seats
If one takes in to consideration current seats of BJP in state assemblies one will find something is happening across country.
BJP now is concentrating on more states at state level by way of growth/good governance story.
Even if BJP loses Lok sabha elections, 10 years from now, depending upon coming MP/Chattisgarh election results, you are staring at BJP in the centre, not withstanding Modi/coalition/ideology. And Boy, when BJP comes into power, now or in 10 years, you are going to see a lot of changes going to happen from current status quo.

from:  Lakshmi Narasimhan Madhavan
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 11:10 IST

Indeed the BJP faces 1996 scenario, but curiosly the BJP has taken a gamble by opting for Narendra Modi,to consolidate its core constituency. If the BJP indeed does well and adds 50 to 60 seats to its current tally, Advani or Nitish could still make a comeback and lead the NDA. Just as its highly improbable to see Narendra Modi pull a remarkable victory single handedly; its difficult for congress to set up UPA 3 in 2014.

from:  Ananth
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 10:38 IST

The BJP’s ‘akla chalo’ challenge: Good unbiased analysis Vidya
Subrahmaniam. Keep it up.

from:  L.A.Pramod
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 10:02 IST

All Modi fans must read this article alone at night after a silent
meditation for 15 mins and then after reading should again meditate for
15 mins before rushing to post comments. Excellent analysis and a true
statement of the present situation and the challenge before Modi. Major
achievement by a senior journalist for having pulled off the trick of
writing a whole article without associating 2002 riots with Modi.

from:  Srinivasan
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 09:53 IST

Not only RLD and TDP ,but some other parties are also under pressure from
their cadre to align with BJP. This is due to anger against the corrupt
and cunning UPA.A large chunk of supporters of TDP,RLD, AIADMK, BJD,TMC etc
would like to vote for BJP[with or without Modi] as of today,but they
ultimately vote for their respective favourite regional parties only to
keep the 'the other party' out of domination in their states.If only it
were BJP or CONG throughout the country,BJP will emerge on top.Today Modi
is what he is, thanks only to horrible congress.One may support Modi or
fiercely criticise him,but one can support UPA only at the cost of the
nation.

from:  S.Srinivasan
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 09:45 IST

Hindutva has been heart of India,BJP-RSS duo.Atalji is hardcore
Hidutvadi.Just becaz Advaniji was Vociferous,he kept doing other
work.2004 NDA lost Purely because of Anti-Incumbency.2002 riots had
very little effect.Seat Numbers are evident.In 2009 it failed to
choose right alliance partners&the masses with poor knowledge voted
for other regional parties;other than NDA&UPA camp.Some voted for
Manmohan singh in UPA camp believing him a Super economist from
sky.Some voted for NDA camp&More voted for regional parties to avoid
other regional parties in either camp.just becaz India is large &
diverse with more states,complex results emerged.Now Corrupt Minority
UPA is managing with number games using CBI.BJP lost just becaz it was
falsely accused of so called meaningless'secularism'(a alien word for
Bharat).Hindutva for ages tells that a ruler of a land should treat
its people equally,Rightfully without differentiation based on
religion/anything.wiki for Hindutva. It is only not Ram temple.

from:  Rajesh
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 09:14 IST

A clear cut truthful analysis.

from:  C. Nandkishore
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 09:03 IST

Modi is popular only amongst BJP supporters among the urban middle class and right leaning individuals and this class is often very vocal therefore one gets an impression that he is popular amongst the entire middle class. Even if we assume that he is popular amongst the entire middle class, still it will be difficult for BJP to get absolute majority on their own because his campaign has started too early and by the time election time comes around fatigue will set in and his rhetoric will start sounding stale similar to a popular song which remains on top of the charts for a short duration of time before fatigue sets in.If elections were to have been held in a months time then perhaps the BJP could have benefitted but elections are a good 7 months away and waves do not last that long especially based on mere rhetoric.And there are four assembly elections before that and there could be surprises especially in Delhi.Thus a media propped Modi-popularity will definitely bite the dust

from:  Jairaj Menon
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 09:00 IST

Prima facie, 'Akela chalo' policy appears to be a big political gamble. However, a closer scrutiny would reveal that it is not. BJP has opted for Modi, as it has run out of options. All allies other than Shiv Sena and SAD have left the NDA and there is no possibility of these parties returning to the NDA fold, irrespective of who is chosen as NDA's PM candidate. Even if NDA wins 200 seats in 2014, it would be very difficult for them to form government at the centre. All NDA can do now is to support a suitable political combination from outside. Ironically, ex-allies of NDA and many other regional parties, who are now shouting hoarse about their secular credentials, would not hesitate to accept its outside support, if the need arises. V.P.Singh did the same.

from:  Pramod Patil
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 08:43 IST

A good write-up indeed! I have no respect for Indian democracy which
is badly distracted in the recent years especially after the last
phase of Indira's rule inducting fear psychosis in gullible masses
that Congress party alone can rule, provide help to them and no other
political party ever can. Congress is also unveils 'secular triumph
card' in apt situations. Wonder is that people are blind to realities
tolerating all these utterances from congress only to receive some
freebies. When Sikhs were massacred post Indira's assassination, it
was dismissed as a reaction after a blast. 2014 is not a test for
political skills of Congress but to test the character of 1.30 billion
Indians whether they are satisfied with the status quo and eternal
rule by congress or want any change permissible only in a democratic
system. While world's greatest democracy United states often asserts
that 'CHANGE? -Yes, we can, I am afraid how our highly conservative
society reacts? God bless India & world.

from:  Vyas K Susarla
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 08:31 IST

The Left front ruled West Bengal for 35 years since 1977. The understanding between CPM and its associate parties was to follow the agenda of CPM, even though the differences were cosmetic. In every coalition dispensation, the supporting parties have to respect and follow the agenda of the dominant party, else there is no coalition. If given chance, will CPM or CPI agree to give up Communism? Why BJP is being compelled to give up Hindutva, which is its identity. The parties who do not gel with UPA, but still want change, should learn not to arm twist dominant party. It is undeniable that from 1998 to 2004, BJP did not indulge in poaching the turf of regional / supporting parties like TDP, AIADMK, TMC, Akalis etc. BJP need not be apologetic about its core values. After the Babri episode, BJP scored one crore votes more in 1993 polls in four states where its Governments were dismissed.

from:  Anil Kumar Tandale
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 08:26 IST

Dear Vidya, your assessment is is full of assumptions and conclusions. If BJP manages to get 200 parliamentary seats then, most of the anti congress parties will join the hands with BJP, this is inevitable. political pundits predictions gone wrong earlier also. Arithmetic in politics will not be the same always and need not follow the pattern of previous years.Your assumptions on RSS and BJP relation is a good fiction! There is no RSS Hindutwa,BJP Hindutwa,Aggressive Hindutwa,soft Hindutwa....There is only one Hindutwa that is Sanatan Dharma and RSS follow it. RSS is always in touch with socity. Their every day activity made them to understand the pulse of the country. RSS advice to politicians is very similar to the advice of Rishis and Gurus of those days to our kings. In the interest of the country,RSS advices all politicians not just BJP. Ultimately decision is left to politicians.

from:  C S Sundaresha
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 08:23 IST

To say that Congress held its fort in 1991 elections in South albeit a V P singh
wave might be a bit misleading. For the elections during that year happened in
multiple phases and most of the south was having it election day scheduled after
Rajiv Gandhi's assasination. And INC cashed in on the sympathy wave. BJP might
still have not gained big in south, but Congress too would most likely have not
gained as much as it did if Mr. Gandhi was not assasinated. The benefits would
have gone to regional parties. In fact we would have witnessed a 1996 type
coalition in 1991 or who knows may be BJP might have gained some allies to form
a govt. Not sure how the resultant political instability coupled with a left leaning
government would have affected a already crisis ridden Indian economy. So in
retrospect, whether Congress deserved the 1991 victory or not (which I think it did not), Indian economy and to a larger extent the Indian republic was saved with the election of a stable government.

from:  Muthukkumar
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 08:17 IST

I would say the regional parties are not displaying their cards as
yet. they will wait for post election scenario. but, true it is that
there is an unprecedented buzz around every major or minor towns and
cities about Mr. Modi. The results in the north specially will be
surprising for many political pundits. In west too BJP-shiv sena seems
to be gaining ground against NCP CONGRESS alliance.AIADMK is set to
sweep polls and she will most likely go with modi giving him a cushion
of 30+ seats. Yedurappa's induction will bolster NDA in karnataka
whereas there is ground swell demand from party workers of BIJU JANATA
DAL to align with BJP. Uttar Pradesh LOOKS LIKE A HOME RUN WITH
DEEFINITE 45+ SEATS FOR BJP. ALL IN ALL it looks like modi might just
have the numbers

from:  shashank shekhar
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 08:00 IST

I like the underdog status of BJP election campaign led by Modi. This
will keep the party hungry going into the polls. Last thing we need is
complacency from BJP rank and file - 'jodi tor daak shune kau na aase
tabe ekla chalo re'.

from:  Suvojit Dutta
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 07:41 IST

For a welcome change, this author has written a realistic article without one side bias which is the hallmark of media - including this author, on Modi and BJP

from:  Bala
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 07:15 IST

With Congress, the coalition alliance would be how much share of the
loot will a party get, forget about secularism, forget about
development, the culture called corruption and loot carried by congress
is attracting many political allies.
I pray to God that give wisdom to all the voters and vote for the bright
future of country ... jai hind

from:  Neeraj
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 06:37 IST

What started as a bang for BJP in the article ended up with a whimper!The sustainable coalition mantra is the oxygen of the current polity as the author rightly estimates with the past data.The recent swell of support earned by Modi springs no surprise, given the show of scamsridden Congress with its lacklustrous leaders like Manmohan Singh and Rahul. Despite this,the hard core image of Modi is a dampener. Expectedly the corporates sing paens for Modi. The dejected middleclass bat for BJP. The minorities, women,Dalits, OBCs are still scary of BJP, more so of the aggressive stance of RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal. The coalition partners are wary about the Machiavillian posturing of Modi for whom political tight rope walking is unknown. History has shown that it is only the coalition which locked up in compromise on some counts or other, that had led to North Block. Equally the same mantra changed the guards when it failed. Kudos to the author who has scored!

from:  C.Chandrasekaran
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 06:31 IST

Good analysis of current situation.
I hope people vote for good governaance and Hope to see
Modi as future..
Modi as Indian PM for 10 years will change the face of India..
Believe in Modi..Believe in your future..Namo ..Namaha..

from:  Anil, Atlanta
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 06:18 IST

As the author has rightly pointed out, without a broad based alliance, it will be
impossible for any party to form a government at the Centre. Also, with a number
regional parties either ruling or being powerful in many States, going over their head
and connecting to the people directly wil be a tall order. For the BJP, attracting allies under Mr.Modi's leadership will not be easy at all. Once the euphoria over Mr.Modi is over, the BJP will realise that projecting a moderate leader would have been a wise move.

from:  Hariharan
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 06:07 IST

While it makes a very nice reading of the current political situation, I strongly feel like most educated people are, this ineffective corrupt coalition UPA must be voted down. Mr.Modi is the most suitable candidate to lead this fight with his unchallenged achievements and most importantly corrupt free governance with iron hand which is the need of the hour.Yes it is a tough order but a tougher leader Mr.Modi may show the way to unseat this UPA.Once a big number is achieved all the Regional Parties clamour to join giving their own sweet reasons.

from:  R.SundaraRajan
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 05:19 IST

The BJP doesn't look a healthy party, given the internal Advani-Modi conflict plus its subjugation to the RSS. These anomalies bereave it of singularity of purpose. With the rise of regional parties the political arena has become more competitive than ever before. The BJP might have rightly resorted to marketing communications using new age media but the strategy seems to be miscalculated--especially with regard to time. All the Modi-frenzy achieved will die before the polls begin.The rivals have had enough time to play spoil sport by building counter-communication for Modi-frenzy.

from:  Aun Ahmed
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 04:20 IST

I won't bet a rupee on his win but if anybody can pull off such a feat,
it is him

from:  rahul kejriwal
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 03:48 IST

Amen! This country has seen enough corruption in the name of coalition
politics.

from:  Abhinav
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 02:12 IST

Pro-government articles in THE HINDU have become the norm and I won't
criticise it. It's the blatant ignorance of the facts that amazes me.
2 major allies of the congress have already walked out,everyone knows
why Mulayam is still onboard and the NCP is dictating terms in
Maharashtra.Is this a better evidence of the expected political
realignment or the fact that UPA managed to pass a bill that no party
could have opposed? It's one thing to support the government and
another to do it at any cost. If the Hindu has to ensure a BJP defeat
in 2014,it must hire better columnists.

from:  Avinash Mehrotra
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 02:08 IST

A brilliant analysis -- the title of the article sounds Bengali. In
Hindi, it should have been "Akela Chalo". However, the author has
omitted an important dimension. Once BJP comes up as the largest
single party with Congress as a poor second, there will be plenty of
horse-trading. Parties like DMK, AIDMK, SP, BSP et al have no ideology
or ethics and will join the largest single party. Since these parties
have grown by distributing freebies, the electorate will readily
approve their leaders' decisions. There will be refrains that Indian
democracy is maturing and all that wonderful stuff. The regional
parties will have got the best returns for their investment, putting
the most successful capitalists to shame.

from:  Jay Ravi
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 01:47 IST

An alternative to Congress government has become necessary in view of Congress government' total failures.India has witnessed high price level(9.5%),slow economic growth (4.5%),unfavorable balance of payments,fall in the money value in terms of dollars. Further, country's unemployment problem remained unsolved making our youths jobless.Under congress regime,corruption was found everywhere.Files,if not bribed, do not move. Large number of scams causing economic loss in crores to the country took place under the congress regime.Lastly government could not control the communal conflicts that took place from time to time in the country. BJP government is the alternative to the congress government.Already BJP has named Narendra Modi as their Prime Ministerial candidate.If public desire to reject congress party in the next election, then, necessarily,public will have to vote in favour of BJP.In this situation BJP will obtain magic 272 MPS alone needing no outside support .

from:  MAHESWAR DEKA
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 01:46 IST

I want Modi to succeed. I want BJP to win 2014 elections. But I do
not want NDA of 1999 when BJP abdicated its ideology for loaves of
office. By the time election comes I am confident many regional parties will find their support base slipping and diminishing if their leaderships can not see what average citizen feels in her bones. I have reasons to believe that leaderships of regional parties are not that blind.

from:  Sudheer
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 01:24 IST

These are decisive times that needs bold actions. BJP has shown the faith and courage to trust in a leader that has made a name for himself by good governance and mass appeal.

Sonetimes in the cross roads of life, you have to " akla chalo" and BJP is doing the same only because they believe in their chosen leader and their shared destiny!

In the end this strategy might not work out but they would sure be remembered that they tried!

from:  Ajitabh Kumar
Posted on: Sep 21, 2013 at 01:04 IST
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