There have been some speculations about the General Elections being held earlier than scheduled. Holding the elections early could prove to be beneficial for the BJP. The rationale behind this is that elections earlier than scheduled will effectively minimise anti-incumbency. The concerns over anti-incumbency are evident especially, in the light of Gujarat elections where the opposition gained some foot.
While this started off as a rumour in 2017, it has gained substance after it was reiterated by a few political analysts and people with some political know-how. The most recent to join this list of commentators is Rajesh Jain, an entrepreneur who set up Niti Central, a Right Wing online portal which was actively involved with PM Narendra Modi’s electoral campaign in 2014. However, the website shut down in early 2016, the reasons for which are largely unknown.
In a post published on his blog, Rajesh Jain writes about the reasons why BJP might opt for elections as early as April 2018 which would be one year before the schedule. According to Jain, considering a state wise estimate, there seems a downward trend and the BJP should be aiming at 215-225 seats as opposed to the 282 seats won in 2014. Further, if BJP suffers electoral setbacks in the state elections to be held later this year, which is a considerable possibility as proved by the Gujarat election, “there will be a negative momentum going in for the Lok Sabha elections”. Another point to be considered here is that the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh will have their elections later this year and if Lok Sabha elections are held around the same time, this will fit in with PM Narendra Modi’s call for all Centre and states’ elections to be held simultaneously. This move will reduce his time in power which in fact might add to his image of someone who puts the country above himself.
Further, the furore over lack of agricultural reforms and unemployment might have a negative impact on the elections. Since solving these issues by May 2019 is not possible; giving words for future in the Budget in February and cashing on it by April seems like a plausible option. The fact that this feel good sentiment will fade by the next year needs to be kept in mind.
Surprise is half the battle won in a war. Jain highlights this point in the article and says that party in power is always ready with the plans and resources for the election. So, holding the elections early might be a good opportunity to take the opposition by surprise and not give them enough time to plan and prepare.
The timing of a few recent events like the two interviews that the Prime Minister gave over the weekend, the survey of Republic TV which suggested that NDA will win 335 seats in the Lok Sabha, the coverage of the PM’s Davos visit and calling the ASEAN leaders as chief guests for the Republic Day parade- all hint towards an early election preparations.
While there might be enough reasons for the BJP to contest the elections early and a number of predictions marking its victory, let us not forgot what happened to Atal Bihari Vajpayee when he walked a similar path.
If the BJP is to contest the elections early, let us hope that the strategists have done their homework well. In a democracy, the will of the people is paramount and so if the BJP loses because the people of the country do not find the party worthy of being in power, it will be justified and heartily accepted. But if the BJP lets its people down because of a few miscalculated and stupid moves, it might be akin to killing a Mocking Bird. It’s a sin to kill a mocking bird.
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