Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Silence of voters


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With the first phase of polling over on Friday and campaigning being on for six more rounds until June 1, the electoral scene across the country is active. Yet, there is no wave – and, rather, a palpable disinterest is evident among the ordinary folks. Top leaders from rival sides are drawing crowds that are organised and ferried to meeting grounds by resourceful parties. However, unlike in the previous general elections, the mood this time is less energetic. The reasons are worth an analysis.
Leading the charge, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the bevy of other BJP leaders are criss-crossing the country, addressing election meetings. The Congress party’s election campaign is powered as usual by Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, while other Congress leaders are drawing less crowds. Notably, the Prime Minister, known for his oratory skills, is failing to work the crowds to a frenzy. Neither is Rahul Gandhi, and much less Priyanka Gandhi, able to majorly enthuse the crowds. Regional satraps are drawing large crowds especially in states where there are the assembly elections too, and the mass responses there appear to be a shade stronger for the reason that local politics and issues are being raised or discussed. The calm on the surface is more in relation to the national mood. Clearly, there are no major issues that divide the nation today other than the issue of secularism that the Opposition uses against the BJP as a stick to beat it with – and rightly too. This was unlike the 2019 scenario, when Modi had a larger mass appeal, strengthened also by the IAF fighter jet offensives into the Pakistani territory of Balakot, close to the military headquarters of Rawalpindi. Modi is perhaps less of a hero in the present electoral settings.
The palpable disinterest among the voters is bound to have its echo on the June 4 results, which are generally believed to hand over power to the BJP and Modi on a platter for the third consecutive time. Modi expected around 380 seats for his party and over 400 seats for the NDA. As the campaign progressed, analysts are wondering whether this is possible at all. Tougher contests compared to 2019 are unfolding in many states even as the Opposition is still fragmented and the INDIA alliance could not whip the mood of the voters up to substantial levels. This time, it could rather be that the voters would decide matters by themselves. In the case of a hung house, the BJP still may have the option to widen the NDA with more parties and retain power. In the absence of a wave, and the disinterest among the masses being palpable, anything is possible.


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