The biggest celebration of democracy- 2019 Lok Sabha elections- are around the corner. One of the interesting things about electoral democracy is opinion polls. The opinion polls are really exciting and entertaining. Different surveyors predict different outcomes. Opinion polls are sometimes misleading and inaccurate but they give an approximate idea of the picture. As the 2019 General Elections are fast approaching, several opinion polls and surveys are being carried out to know about the approximate picture that is likely to unfold. The ABP News & C-Voter in their survey found that the BJP led NDA would comfortably cross the majority mark and would likely to get 276 seats. The survey projected UPA to win 112 seats and other parties are likely to emerge victorious on 155 seats.
The survey was conducted between August 30 – September 30, 2018, and at a time when the government is facing vehement criticism from the opposition over rising fuel prices, sinking of the rupee and also allegations of corruption with respect to Rafale deal. Despite these allegations, NDA led by the BJP is comfortably getting the majority mark.
The survey has also given region wise projections. For Uttar Pradesh, the survey suggests that if the Congress party decides to go solo in the general elections then it will only manage to win two seats while the grand alliance of the SP-BSP may secure victory over 42 seats and NDA may win 36 seats. However, if the Congress is made a part of the grand alliance then the picture for the Congress and as well as for the grand alliance would be much brighter. In such a scenario grand alliance is likely to win 56 seats and the NDA may get 24 seats. As per the survey, if Mayawati decides to contest the election then in such a case the NDA will get whopping 70 seats while the Congress may get two and others to get eight seats in total. In the last general elections, the BJP had won 71 seats in Uttar Pradesh.
There are strong possibilities that Mayawati will leave the grand alliance if the SP tried to accommodate the Congress in the grand alliance. All is not well between Mayawati and the Congress. On Thursday, Mayawati made it very clear that her party would not ally with the Congress at any cost for the upcoming elections in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Mayawati also raised questions over intentions of the INC to defeat the BJP. The BSP supremo said that the intention of the INC is not to defeat the BJP but to cause harm to friendly partners. She called the INC “arrogant” and said that whatever steps she is taking is because of the “stubborn attitude” of the grand old party.
Earlier, in September, the BSP declared to contest upcoming Chhattisgarh state assembly elections in coalition with Ajit Jogi’s Janata Congress Chhattisgarh (JCC-J).
For more details: Mayawati snubs Congress in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh.
All is not well within the SP as well. Last month the SP strongman and uncle of Akhilesh Yadav- Shivpal Yadav- have formed his own ‘Secular Morcha.’ He has given place to big faces that were part of the Akhilesh’s cabinet. It includes the names of Shadab Fatima and Sharda Pratap Shukla. Shivpal Yadav had asked the loyal members to join his faction for the sake of old loyalties, especially towards the ex supremo and India’s former Defence Minister, Mulayam Singh Yadav. Shivpal Yadav has the support of some of the senior and strong members of the SP which is not a good sign for Akhilesh. With his exit, the SP has become weaker to some extent and it has given sigh of relief to the BJP. It is important to note that Akhilesh has been the face of the party for the last 6 years, but it is Shivpal Yahav who has the cadres and the organizational strength. Shivpal is a good crowd puller and enjoys a good reputation among the old loyalists of the party. The ‘Samajwadi Secular Morcha’ is nothing less than a blessing in disguise for BJP. And in the days to come, controversy regarding seat sharing between the SP-BSP would also emerge. It would be interesting to see how many seats the Mahagathbandhan would allocate for only half of SP’s strength?
And then on ground cadre level problems would definitely arise between SP-BSP. SP-BSP coalition may look viable at the leadership level but at the cadre level, it is a formula for disaster. They lack a Nitish Kumar like figure to ensure vote transfer like it happened in Bihar. And it’s an open secret that all is not well between Dalits and Yadavs. There exists a traditional rivalry between both the communities and hence a seamless vote transfer in 2019 is just a remote possibility and chances of huge cross voting are very high.
Having said that all, the future of Mahagathbandhan looks bleak in Uttar Pradesh and the way things are moving even if BSP and SP agrees to accommodate Congress then also it would not make any significant difference. The SP, BSP and the Congress are going through worst faces. To counter their caste politics in the state, the BJP have ace in their hands in the form of CM Yogi. Yogi’s Hindutva image has united the Hindus like never before, he is considered as the tallest Hindu icon in the country and hence UP is likely to repeat a 2014 like unity in 2019 also which cuts across caste barriers and unite all the Hindus under one saffron umbrella.
For Bihar, the survey suggests that if the LJP and RLSP decide to exit from NDA and stitch up an alliance, then NDA may get 22 seats while the UPA win 18 seats. If the NDA alliance remains intact then it may win a massive 31 number of seats and rest of the opposition parties will have to settle themselves with only 9 seats.
As per the survey, the three states- Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan- which are stronghold of the BJP will continue to side with the NDA. The survey predicts that in Madhya Pradesh, the NDA as it is likely to get 23 out of the 29 seats. In Rajasthan, the NDA is likely to finish the first in 18 seats out of 25 seats.
In Maharashtra, if the Congress and the NCP form an alliance and Shiv Sena decides to go solo then UPA’s tally may touch the mark of 30 seats and NDA 16 seats, while Shiv Sena would only manage to get 2 seats. However, the tally of NDA would improve if the Shiv Sena and the BJP contest together against the Congress-NCP alliance. In such a scenario NDA may come on top on 36 seats and UPA may grab 12 seats. If all the party decides to contest alone then BJP 22, Shiv Sena 7, Congress 11 and NCP 8. If all goes well then Shiv Sena and the BJP would contest together. Right now everything seems to be well between Shiv Sena and the BJP. If Uddhav Thackrey decides to go alone into the general elections, he is bound to face the same result as he did in the bypolls. All this will do is help the Shiv Sena in satisfying its ego and maintaining an anti-BJP position, but politically and practically this would be a suicidal move. Sena would end up losing all political power and relevance. The BJP might still sail through though its winning margins won’t be as monumental. Entering into a coalition with the Congress is not even an option given that Congress is a spent force and there is not going to be much benefit in sharing its vote share. Moreover, the ideological discrepancies between the Sena and the Congress would make any such vote sharing arrangement highly improbable. Praful Patel of NCP has already ruled out any possibility of alliance with the Shiv Sena. Therefore, the only sane option for the Sena is to enter into an alliance with the BJP and openly accept BJP as the senior partner in the alliance. Shiv Sena should not shy away from doing that because BJP is in fact the senior partner in the coalition. This will help the Shiv Sena in using Prime Minister Modi’s charisma and the public support to good effect for accentuating its own vote share and remaining political relevant. It will also help the BJP in securing even bigger winning margins and retaining a dominant political position.
For Odisha, the Survey predicts if PM Modi contest from Puri seat of Odisha then the BJP is likely to grab 13 seats, BJD may get 6 seats and the Congress only 2 seats. There is much speculation doing the rounds that prime minister Modi may contest 2019 polls from the Puri Parliament constituency. These speculations are not without substance. A series of events have shown the prime minister’s inclination towards the state of Odisha. This proposal first came up in April 2017 during BJP’s national executive meeting in Bhubaneswar where some Odisha BJP leaders raised the proposal of Prime Minister Modi contesting from the Puri constituency. However, Prime Minister Modi evaded the question and did not respond to it. Prime Minister Modi has visited the coastal state several times throughout his tenure. He visited Rourkela in April 2015, Puri, Paradip and Bargarh during February 2016. He also visited Baleswar in June 2016 and Bhubaneswar in April 2017. On May 26 this year, prime minister visited Cuttack in order to celebrate the completion of four years of Modi government. Therefore, he sounded the poll bugle for 2019 general elections from the state of Odisha itself that goes on to show his inclination towards the state. These speculations came up earlier as well when Prime Minister Modi went to address a rally in Cuttack on May 26 for celebrating the fourth anniversary of Modi government.
In recent times the BJP has made inroads in Odisha. Since BJP is looking to expand its reach beyond the north and west, it is banking on Odisha heavily. BJP President Amit Shah, after the Tripura’s landslide victory, had said that the ‘Golden Period’ for the BJP party would not arrive till it manages to win in West Bengal, Odisha and Kerala. This statement is the evidence how important Odisha is for the BJP. The party has already become a force to be reckoned with, giving the Naveen government sleepless nights. BJP would want to compensate the losses of seats in its stronghold by winning few Lok Sabha seats in Odisha.
Odisha has become important for the BJP and is likely to yield electoral gains. The environment is also conducive for the BJP to spread its wings. BJP’s performance in the local body polls was spectacular. Although results were in BJD’s favour, BJP has emerged as the principal opposition and it became the second largest party in rural Odisha. According to results declared, Zilla Parishad seats demonstrated surprising results with BJD winning 473 seats and the BJP 297. In the last elections held in 2012, the BJD had won 654 seats, followed by the Congress with 128, and the BJP just 36 seats out of 854 seats. Another reason for BJP’s strong belief to gain greater clout in Odisha is the huge anti-incumbency against BJD. BJD is facing severe infighting. This has been reflected in the form of Jay Panda whose proximity towards the BJP cost him his job in the BJD. Naveen Patnaik is ruling for years without any challenge. Voters have never seen anything except BJD. Like in all states, first-time voters and young voters may identify themselves with the vibrant leadership of PM Modi more and hence vote along those lines in the future. With the likes of leaders like Union Minister of Petroleum, Dharmendra Pradhan in the state, Odisha never seemed so ready to explore an alternative and seek a change.
According to the survey, in the north-eastern states, NDA is likely to finish first on 18 seats out of the stipulated 25. Six are going in the UPA’s bag. It seems that much like the country, the BJP too is dependent on a ‘Look East’ or ‘Act East’ policy. This policy is likely to compensate for the seats they might lose in strongholds in 2019 general elections. So, what can we expect? The BJP’s one after another sweep in the northeast states has brought the northeast to the forefront of the country’s policymaking. Now, the northeast receives ample media attention. It has become politically and strategically more important. PM Modi’s “Vikas Model” has benefited the North East greatly, which explains why BJP is suddenly becoming popular in the North East. Recently, PM Modi inaugurated Pakyong Airport in East Sikkim district, which will connect the Himalayan state to rest of the world through air connectivity. This is the first airport in Sikkim, the state did not had an airport despite the fact that it was admitted to the Union of India back in 1975. The airport built at a cost of Rs. 350 crores at an altitude of about 4,700 feet is located at a distance of 30 km from the state capital of Gangtok.
Since coming to power, the NDA government has embarked on a mission to develop the north-east, connect the hitherto unconnected places, provide employment opportunities to the youth and an infrastructure development initiative unprecedented in size and scale in the north east. Not just infrastructure, the BJP is also working in the direction to curb the menace of illegal immigration. The north-eastern states face lot of difficulties due to influx of large number of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants and Rohingyas. Recently, Government deported first batch of Rohingyas.
For more details: Govt. keeps the promise, first batch of Rohingyas to be deported today
A day before NRC exercise 52 illegal Bangladeshis were deported back from Assam.
And these groundworks and fulfilling its promises will definitely get rewarded in the upcoming general elections. In fact, the BJP might end up winning more seats than what the survey has predicted.
The survey predicted landslide victory for the UPA in Punjab while neighbouring Haryana is seen leaning towards the BJP. The survey predicts that the BJP will win all the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi.
On 129 seats of the Southern states- Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Tamil Nadu- regional parties are likely to gain crown on 76 seats, the UPA may gain the palm on 32 seats and the NDA may emerge victorious on 21 seats.
However, the way things are unfolding in Southern states especially in Kerala it is no exaggeration to say that the BJP might end up winning more than 20 seats in the South. In Kerala, the BJP and the RSS have made deep inroads in the recent years. During Kerala floods many RSS workers lost their lives while rescuing the people. The Central government of the BJP also extended help to flood-ravaged Kerala with all the quickness. Even the Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has also lauded the relief work initiated by the central government led by PM Modi and has appreciated his positive responses.
The BJP and RSS are also supporting the ongoing protest in Kerala against the Supreme Court’s recent verdict on Sabarimala Temple issue where the apex court allowed the entry of women of all ages into the temple. The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Mahila Morcha organized protest in front of the Travancore Dewaswom Board (TDB). The BJP is demanding that the Kerala government should file a review petition in the case otherwise Jallikattu-model protests would be organized all over the state. The communist Chief Minister of the state is hell bent upon implementing the court’s order and the people are protesting against the order. The judgment on Sabarimala temple from the SC has proved to be a blessing in disguise for it has united men and women from all the sections of Kerala Hindus. The dream of RSS to have united Hindu voter base is not very far from becoming a reality and also the days of communists in Kerala are numbered. The BJP will surely open its account in the upcoming general elections in Kerala. In 2014 general elections, the BJP got 10.3% vote share but it failed to win a single seat. In 2016 Kerala state assembly elections, the BJP got 15.10% vote share and won 1 seat. The BJP has done a lot of ground work in these years and the vote share in the upcoming general elections would only register increase and would also translate into seats as well. Kerala is very important for the BJP. The BJP has paid a lot of attention to Kerala. Kerala has representation in PM Modi cabinet. Alphons Joseph Kannanthanam from Kottayam is currently serving as the Union Minister of State for Electronics and Information Technology, Culture, and Tourism, in office since 3 September 2017.
Karnataka is the gateway to south Indian politics and the BJP already has a good presence in the state. The BJP delivered exemplary performance in the recent Karnataka assembly elections. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) emerged as the single largest party by winning an impressive 104 seats out of the 222 where the elections were held on 12 May 2018. This was 64 more than what the party had won back in 2013. However, because of the unholy alliance of the Congress and the JD (S), BJP had to sit in the opposition.
Whether the BJP will be able to win all 28 seats in Karnataka in 2019 general elections is debatable but the party will definitely be in shape to better its current tally of 17 and win more than 20 seats. In the recently conducted assembly elections, the people’s mandate was definitely against the Congress with it being reduced to 78 from 122. As many as 17 ministers in the Siddaramaiah led government bit the dust with the Chief Minister himself being embarrassed in his home district Mysuru where he lost by a whopping 36,000 votes to the JDS candidate GT Deve Gowda in Chamundeshwari constituency.
However, as soon as the unholy alliance came to existence, a constant tug of war ensued between the Congress and the JD (S) over one issue or another. It’s quite funny to see that the parties that avowed to fight the BJP together are fighting with each other since the beginning of their alliance.
According to media reports, Congress is planning to go solo in Karnataka this time for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections leaving its coalition partner Janata Dal (Secular). If reports coming in from the state are to be believed, Congress is planning to field candidates from all 28 Lok Sabha seats in the state for the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha elections. A senior Congress leader from the state told The Sunday Standard, “At present, we are preparing to fight all the 28 Lok Sabha seats, We have started meetings of our district and block level leaders. The senior leaders, including those from the AICC, are monitoring. Parliamentary candidates are being sounded. We are getting ready parliament constituency-wise…We are all working together.” The Congress leader also expressed the belief that the JDS too would have begun preparations of its own for the Lok Sabha polls in the state. The national party seems to be running high on the victory it has achieved in the recently conducted local body polls in the state. Congress bagged the highest number of seats in the local body polls in which there was no coalition between the JDS and the Congress. While BJP came second in the local body polls, JDS had to content itself with the third spot. The state leadership of the Congress was not happy with the post-poll alliance with the JD (S). As the things are going it would be no exaggeration to say we might witness a Bihar like episode very soon in Karanataka as well. If it happens then it would only benefit the BJP.
In view of politics in Telangana, there are speculations that Swami Paripoornananda would possibly join the BJP. Swami Paripoornananda is called as the ‘Yogi of South’ and enjoys great followership in the regions of Andhra and Telangana. His entry into BJP would improve the party’s prospects in the state as well as outside the state in other regions of the south.
For more details: Swami Paripoornananda can be BJP’s ‘Yogi of the South’
People in Telangana are fed up of appeasement politics of TRS government of KCR. They are looking for other options and the BJP is the perfect choice for it. The state of Telangana came into existence in 2014. During the first-ever Telangana state assembly elections in 2014, the party of KCR- Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) – promised to celebrate the day of September 17. However, after he won the election, KCR failed to fulfill his promise. In recent times, the BJP has worked towards spreading its clout in Telangana and they will surely yield good results in Telangana state assembly elections as well in the general elections. At least it will increase the reach and presence of the BJP in southern states.
For more details: Amit Shah slams KCR for not celebrating Hyderabad Liberation Day
In Andhra Pradesh which is ruled by the TDP of Chandrababu Naidu conditions are also similar to Telangana. Naidu is notorious for playing cheap appeasement politics in the state and received a lot of public flak after Tirupati temple episode. Recently, he announced construction of grand mosque in of international standards to be built in the capital Amravati. He knows that road in the next Andhra assembly elections is not going to be easy for him so he is trying his level best to appease and solidify anti-BJP votes (predominantly Muslim) in Andhra Pradesh. Very recently, he boasted that his party constructed Haj houses in Hyderabad, Vijayawada & Kadapa and has constructed Mosques across the state and also worked towards promoting the Urdu language.
Anger against Chandrababu Naidu, Social-engineering will be the key for the BJP in Andhra Pradesh. In 2014 general elections, the BJP won 2 seats out of the four seats which it contested in Andhra Pradesh in alliance with the TDP. However, this time the BJP is going solo in the elections. Since the BJP has decided to go alone in AP, the YSRCP would pose a formidable challenge to both TDP and the BJP. The BJP should present itself as a third force in the state and only then the thrill of a triangular contest can be expected. The advantage in a triangular contest would always be the third force gaining due to split in votes. This will be a rare scenario for the BJP, though BJP should contest in all 25 seats. This is important for two reasons, firstly this will ensure Amit Shah’s grand plan of ‘sampark for samarthan’ programme. Secondly the presence of the ‘lotus’ symbol on EVM’s is essential to imprint on voters mind, irrespective of its outcome in doubtful constituencies too.
Another aspect to be noted is the Congress Party had been totally decimated in 2014 elections. Hence, only TDP and YSRCP are two major political parties in 2014. The Congress party’s vote share was between 1% to 3% and in one or two seats touched 10%.
Another major drawback is since the BJP had contested only in 4 constituencies, remaining 21 constituencies went without the BJP presence, so it is difficult to assess the people’s fondness for the BJP in these 21 constituencies, which constitute 85% of the total seats. The catch point is, the BJP despite the alliance with the TDP could contest only in 4 seats and managed to win only two. Hence in 2019, going alone and grabbing 2 seats is not a tough job at all if a proper strategy is in place. Overall, the BJP is likely to win 10 to 13 seats out of 25 in Andhra Pradesh.
For more details: General Elections 2019: BJP’s chances in Andhra Pradesh
The NDA would easily cross the number of 20 seats very easily in these four states. They are likely to win more than 30 seats in these southern states. And if the party manages to win any seat in Tamil Nadu then it will be a bonus.
However, the recent deduction in the prices of petrol and diesel by the centre and the BJP ruled states and Ayushman Bharat has ameliorated the image of the BJP in the eyes of the people. The moves and schemes like these will ease a little bit the burdens on the citizens of the country. The BJP government has also started deporting Rohingyas and once the SC gives verdict on Ram Mandir and the burning NRC issue by December then everything would change significantly. Also when PM Modi starts his dynamic campaign then the whole scenario stands to change for the better in BJP’s favor. The NDA might end up winning even more seats than what the survey is predicting today. Weak opposition, growing reach and presence of the BJP, inept leadership of Rahul Gandhi, dynamic leadership of PM Modi, clean governance of the BJP are the factors which would help the BJP led NDA alliance to touch the mark of 350 seats in the best case scenario in 2019 general elections.
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