Sunday, June 16, 2024

The Countdown Begins


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India’s jumbo-scale voting exercise has completed six phases and is moving to the June 1 final phase. The polls are mostly over and rival political formations are equally hopeful of forming the next government. The shyness of the INDIA alliance, evident in the initial phases of the polling, has by now given way to a sense of confidence. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh claimed that, based on the present voting trends, the alliance could win up to 350 seats. The BJP has already spread word it ‘secured’ a majority by the end of the fourth phase of the polling. The first real hint of what’s in store would be available on the evening of June 1, when exit-poll results are out. In the recent past, exit poll predictions overall were more dependable.
BJP circles are palpably wary over the lack of a public enthusiasm in the present Lok Sabha polls. Clearly, unlike in 2019, there was no perceptible Modi wave even in the Hindi belt – the mainstay of the BJP. Fact is BJP survived so far on the Modi aura, not by its organisational heft. Its leaders, mouthing Hindutva and little else, basked in the glory of the party’s rule from the Centre and decided they need not work as long as Modi brought the votes in. Chances are that this election would drill some sense into their heads. If the BJP and its allies manage to get just enough seats to form the next government, that would still send out a sharp message. The prime minister had set a target of 400 plus seats for the NDA. If it ends up with less than what it got in 2019, the search for a new captain to replace Modi would begin then and there. Not so for the Congress party. Win or lose, it would have the Nehru-family at its apex. This is the material difference between the BJP and the Congress.
Given the dull mass responses to the PM at his election rallies, it was natural for Modi to seek to whip up the public mood by going overboard. For instance, he recently made public his growing feeling that he was sent by God to set things right here. He’s understandably being delusional. Note the fact that Modi had been largely ‘reserved’ all through his governance terms and spoke overall in dignified tones. This time, we are exposed to a different Modi. He’s seeing trouble ahead and might pay a price for his perceptible governance lethargy. A golden rule for all in public life is, you cannot take the people for granted.


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