With over ten months to go, India is furiously marching towards the general elections. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has begun to reach out to the world’s populous democracy. Can he repeat the success of the 2014 general elections or will he pave the way for the frail and cobbled-up coalition? The tug-of-war has just begun…
Targeting more than 400 Lok Sabha seats in the next general elections, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has begun to strategise its plan for the mega battle next year. Is such a mission possible or impossible? In 2014, the party won 282 seats. To this end, the BJP’s juggernaut has been activated by none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the national BJP President Amit Shah. Modi will cover 50 mega political rallies across India. Other senior leaders too will complete 50 rallies by February next year. Each rally will cover two to three Lok Sabha constituencies. Simply put, by next year, the BJP will have completed 200 rallies and reached out to 400 Lok Sabha constituencies. The move is expected to get the party in shape in time to take on a united opposition. However, will such rallies help the BJP win 400 seats?
Significantly, the BJP along with its ideological guide, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), is assessing the winning factor in each and every constituency. The party wishes to bring in young and new faces, for which it plans to weed out many of the veteran leaders and non-performing MPs. As per this strategy, more than a 100 leaders may be denied tickets for the next general election.
BJP is adopting the strategy to infuse new talent as it doubts whether it can better its performance in the key North Indian states that brought it to power in 2014. BJP had won all 25 seats in Rajasthan, all seven in Delhi and all four in Himachal Pradesh. It had also won 71 out of 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh, 27 out of 29 in Madhya Pradesh and 10 out of 11 in Chhattisgarh.
Some prominent people have been approached to contest the coming general elections. Certain Bollywood names doing the rounds include actors Akshay Kumar (who may contest a Lok Sabha seat from Punjab or Delhi), Anupam Kher (from Delhi) and Nana Patekar (from Maharashtra).
A similar experiment by the BJP in 2014 had paid off. Singers Manoj Tiwari and Babul Supriyo, actors Paresh Rawal and Kirron Kher, Olympic shooting medallist Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, columnist Pratap Simha, former army chief VK Singh, former union home secretary RK Singh, former Mumbai police commissioner Satyapal Singh and former bureaucrat Udit Raj were prominent among those fielded by the BJP, and surprisingly all won.
Several party leaders doubt whether BJP can repeat the performance. Recently, Raj Kumar Saini, BJP member of parliament from Kurukshetra warned that 90 pc of those who will contest on the Party’s ticket in the upcoming Assembly and Lok Sabha polls will lose.
It is on account of such widespread perception and fear that the BJP is now infusing new faces and youngsters into electoral politics.
Meanwhile, India’s divided Opposition in recent months seized a new way to counter Prime Minister Narendra Modi by bringing national and regional rivals together to take on the ruling party. This was clearly attested by how the Opposition had won the by-elections across India. However, mere anti-Modi rhetoric will not help the Opposition to unseat Modi. A pre-poll alliance is yet to take shape. Also, they need to have alternate programmes and present themselves as one formidable political alternative to Modi and his brand of politics.
Nevertheless, India is all set to witness an extraordinarily interesting general election in 2019.