Modi is trying to take the debate away from the economic side. He wants to talk about nationalism, security, safety, patriotism, said , Consulting Editor, ET Now.
Today is the first phase of 2019 general elections. If you were to do a SWAT analysis for both NDA as well as UPA, who do you think has an upper hand?
Without doubt, I would say the NDA. They have a 70% chance of winning at this point of time.
Why do you think BJP will sweep the elections this year too? What are their key strengths? Let us begin with the S first?
The strengths of the NDA first is Modi. He is by far the most popular leader in the country. He is more popular than his own party. Important, he is held in high regard by youngsters who are forming an increasing part of the electorate in every election and so this is a positive.
BJP has nationalist credentials. After Balakot, after the surgical strikes, after Uri this party is able to boast that they can take on Pakistan and say look at these wimps in the Congress! They did nothing after the earlier blasts or the attack on parliament but we are willing to take action. At this point, they are emphasising the nationalist credentials and it is strong. The BJP has by far the biggest election war chest. It has 95% of the electoral bonds and it has plenty of money. It has strong and growing cadre strength which is important to bring out the voters in a situation like this.
It also has a relatively uncorrupt image. It is seen to be serious about issues like sanitation, rural cooking gas, electricity to every house, it can lay claim to serious reforms like brining in GST and the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code. And one thing which most people miss is inflation is down under 4%. Historically, this is an important indicator of success. High inflation is deadly, a low inflation can be good for the incumbent.
These briefly are the strengths of the NDA.
What about the UPA? I think the main strength from their point of view is anti incumbency. Elections are often lost by incumbents rather than won by the opposition. And anti incumbency is strong. It has been very, very apparent in a large number of state elections that the BJP does badly if it is incumbent and does better if it is anti incumbent. There is an anti-incumbent trend and that is the strength of the UPA.
It has won these three elections in central India; Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. So, it has some momentum going for it. Plus, it is also a good source of campaign finance. It will be the largest single block if the BJP is defeated and so it is in a better position to form a government in a hung parliament.
They have come out with the NYAY programme which talks about giving Rs 72,000 per family to the bottom 20%. There is a lot of cynicism among people on whether it will be implemented. But it has become an important talking point. So it is giving them something and there is a certain amount of intellectual credit which has got to them on that account.
Finally, you can say a strong point is that historically it has got a significant proportion of the votes of Muslims, Christians and Dalits. This base, however, has been eroding. On balance, in comparison of strength, definitely the NDA has the upper hand.
You spoke of the UPA government, you spoke about Modi, what about Rahul Gandhi? How do you think he has evolved as a politician from 2014 to now?
If you have to ask about weaknesses I would say a weakness of the Congress Party is Rahul Gandhi. If you compare him with many of the previous leaders like Indira Gandhi, Jawahar Lal Nehru, Rajiv Gandhi and even Sonia Gandhi, I would say they were better speakers, more inspiring leaders. He is getting a little better, he is not as bad as he used to be but I would say he is definitely a handicap and not a strength, the exact opposite to Modi who is a very good speaker and can connect well with the audience. He can get feedback from them. To that extent, he is in some sense, the natural born leader who has forced his way to the top whereas Rahul Gandhi has merely inherited the mantle and is not looking particularly well qualified to fill those shoes.
Does the non-Congress, non BJP backed alliance has the muscle to pull off a coup, according to you?
Yes, it could happen and this will probably hinge critically on Uttar Pradesh. Last time, BJP and allies got 73 seats out of 80. Now, with the Mahagathbandhan,various opinion polls are suggesting that the BJP may do down all the way from 73 down to between 25 and 30 seats.
That would be a massive erosion and massive loss. If you get that kind of situation, if you get a situation where the BSP SP combination has 55 to 60 seats in the parliament, that would be a very strong position to bid for the next prime ministership.
Can farm distress, lack of job creation be the swing factors at all?
These are not swing factors so much as background factors. With all these things, after all the BJP at one time was ruling 21 state! It won one state election after another. If you ask me what is the job situation and the farm situation like, the answer is good enough for the BJP to beRead More – Source