The BJP hype and the reality check
The media surveys have always troubled me with skepticism and disbelief, partly because I am not particularly good at arithmetic, which is why I had to give up studying science and turn to the study of English Literature. To this day numbers give me jitters what to talk of graphs and percentages and therefore I fail to comprehend the psephological analyses conducted on various TV channels with utmost confidence by erudite and articulate psephologists like Yogendra Yadav, Swapan Dasgupta or Arnab Goswami. Frankly I am not sure how much of this Arnab or Rajdeep Sardesai actually understand. I of course remember that my good friend Yashwant Deshmukh was doing his surveys sitting in The Pioneer Bureau room on his laptop for the 1996 elections for which a paper like The Pioneer, sinking fast, paid him substantially. That made me further lose any faith in the science of psephology. In a country like India which is so wide and varied where language, culture and food habits change every 50 kilometres, it is incomprehensible how any sample survey at best of a few thousand urban babus could reflect the true picture of the overall people’s mood.
My analyst friends and their surveys are giving the BJP, specially on account of Narendra Modi’s perceived popularity anywhere between 223 and 285 and in turn the Congress even 50-60 seats. I therefore decided to do some of my calculation, though I concede I am not too good at it.
Let’s start with the BJP and see what is the maximum number of seats it can get, in a dream scenario. Let us start with Jammu and Kashmir and accept for argument’s sake there is a Modi wave. It is almost impossible, but let us give two out of six seats to the BJP in J&K. These can only be Jammu and Udhampur. Even the die hard saffronised Sanghi can’t give more than this to the BJP in J&K. Granted?
Next come to Himachal Pradesh which has four seats. In 2009 BJP won three seats. It is almost impossible for the BJP to improve upon that. But let us assume there is a Modi wave and the BJP then gets all the four. That makes BJP tally go up to seven.
Then in Punjab, the Akali Dal will contest eight and give three to the BJP. Give BJP all three, which is very unlikely. The tally goes upto 10.
In Haryana, Congress won all ten seats. Even if Congress is down and out there is the INLD of Chautala which would be the biggest gainer. Nevertheless we give BJP five seats. That makes 15 for BJP. In Delhi let us give all the seven to BJP taking its tally to 22.
Rajasthan witnessed a wave against the Congress, so give all the 25 to BJP, taking the tally to 47, same for Madhya Pradesh with 29 added plus all the 11 from Chhatisgarh so add another 40 to BJP kitty taking its tally to 87. Ditto for Gujarat, 26 and 2 from Goa, taking the tally to 115. In Maharashtra they won nine in 2009. In the Modi wave let us assume it will now get 12 (though its Shiv Sena’s junior partner there) taking the tally to 127.
In Karnataka despite the return of Yeddyurappa, even the BJP optimist concede they cannot win back the 18 they won in 2009 so a fair figure should be say 10 seats. That makes it 137. This covers almost all the big states where the BJP is in direct fight with the Congress and therefore it could sweep. Conceded?
Now in UP the BJP claims it will get 40, granted taking the tally to 177. The BJP says it will get 20 seats in Bihar, done. The figure goes upto 197. In Jharkhand the BJP won seven in 2009 which was a very high figure. Nevertheless say Modi wave gives it another 10 of the 14 seats. The tally goes upto 207. Again in Uttarakhand there are only five seats. Add all the five to BJP kitty the figure goes upto 212. Then in Andhra Pradesh the BJP may score a duck. But for argument sake give them two. That’s 214. In Assam again BJP got four in 2009, give them six. This goes upto 220. Add one each seat from Chandigarh, Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli. That is another 3 seats, taking the BJP tally to 223. That’s it. Even with such a dream run the BJP is stuck at 223. No sane person can argue that the BJP will get a seat from Tamil Nadu, West Bengal or Kerala or the rest of the North-East.
Now the best advocate of the BJP cannot give the BJP more than this! And everyone knows that this is a dream scenario for the BJP which is not almost but actually impossible to achieve. A more realistic scenario is that it is next to impossible for the BJP to cross 200, even if the Congress is completely liquidated in 2014.
Add to that the AAP factor. In Delhi Assembly elections three months back, AAP completely decimated the Congress party. But if it caused 70 per cent damage to the Congress, BJP admits it dented the BJP base as well though nowhere near what it did to the Congress, if it caused 70 per cent damage to the Congress, it caused 30 per cent damage to the BJP as well. Now of the 200 odd seats the BJP hopes to win in its wave, if the AAP factor works in the urban centres as is being forecast by most of the psephologists then that brings down the BJP tally by 60 seats. Even if the damage is only 15 per cent it means 30 seats less. That brings down the BJP tally to 160-170 and that is the figure the BJP insiders are actually calculating.
In such a scenario, it is well nigh impossible for Narendra Modi to head the next government. A BJP led NDA government is still likely but a Modi-led, unlikely.
Now let us look at the Congress. We all concede that the Congress is in bad shape and may do worse than it ever did in its entire political career.
The Congress was about to get wiped out from Andhra Pradesh where it won 33 seats under the combined leadership of Sonia Gandhi and late Y S Rajasekar Reddy. But with Telangana given, it is now in a position to reclaim some loss in the 17 seats of Andhra Pradesh and so a fair assessment would be about 10 seats to the Congress from AP. In Arunachal Pradesh there is no opponent so the two seats in 2009 go back to it taking its tally to 12. In Assam Tarun Gogoi has proved quite invincible. In 2009 Congress won seven, let us say this time it will come down to three taking the Congress numbers to 15. In Bihar a tieup with Lalu Yadav will help it improve its tally at least marginally to three seats taking the tally to18. In a fair assessment it should get at least one in Chhatisgarh, going up to 19; Goa zero and Gujarat where it got 8 in 2009 it may win only two, with the total going upto 20. Himachal Pradesh we can safely assume that Virbhadra Singh or his wife will anyway win their pocket burrough so that makes it 21. In Punjab we give only three seats taking the tally to 24. In Haryana Congress won all ten seats in 2009. We give them only two which makes it 26. J&K zero. Jharkhand this time in alliance with Lalu and JMM they could improve their tally by say two seats thus getting three and taking the tally to 29. There is still no anti incumbency factor against the Congress in Karnataka, so even if it does badly it can get 12 seats taking the tally to 41. Kerala it got 13 in 2009. This time it may get only six jacking the figure to 47. Four from Madhya Pradesh against 11 in 2009 takes it to 51. In Maharashtra it got 17 in 2009. This can come down to 7 totaling upto 58. Plus two from Manipur, making it 60 and one each from Meghalaya and Mizoram, taking it to 62. In Odisha they got six in 2009. There should not be much of a loss in Odisha, but let us give them only four taking the tally to 66. In Rajasthan the BJP won five and Congress 20 in 2009. This time in the reverse scene, Congress may get only five with its overall figure going upto 71.
In UP people may say I am being too optimist but I gave them 14 studying the seats the Congress could still win, for instance Amethi, Rae Bareli, Faizabad, Gonda, Kanpur, Unnao and if Jayaprada joins Congress and Congress decides to replace the no good Azharuddin with Jayaprada the Congress may win both Rampur and Moradabad. Similarly Gonda has Beni Prasad Verma and in Firozabad, post Mzaffarnagar the Muslims may still stick by Raj Babbar. Anyway the figure is disputable. Nevertheless this makes it 85 for the Congress. With a tacit understanding with the CPM to teach Mamata Banerjee a lesson the Congress can expect to still win six seats in West Bengal with its tally going upto 91. Similarly in Uttarakhand it may retain Harish Rawat’s seat taking the tally to 92. In Tamil Nadu it may score a duck. But it may still win its Puducherry seat, going upto 93and one more from Lakshwadeep taking the finally tally to 94. This is the worst case scenario for the Congress party.
Of the 544 Lok Sabha seats there are only 111 seats in HP, Delhi, Chhatisgarh, Goa, Gujarat, MP, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Chandigarh, Andaman, D&N and D&D where there is a direct contest between the BJP and Congress and of that we can safely take out Delhi now for it will be three way here. So that leaves only 106 seats. At best the BJP can win all those 106 seats. What next?