July 27, 2013

UPA’s future grim, says writing on wall

 UPA's future grim, says writing on wall
By Gautam Mukherjee on July 27, 2013

The substantial CNN-IBN tracker opinion poll broadcast concluded on the July 26, places the NDA winning up to 180 seats to the Lok Sabha and at the pole position.

It suggests, being an early poll, that the BJP has the momentum to take the tally higher, perhaps to over 200 seats on its own, making the formation of a Government very much easier.

Rajdeep Sardesai, who anchored the poll discussions, said several times that this might be the last poll before the elections because the Election Commission is thinking of banning them.

But everything depends, for the BJP and NDA albeit, on the pronouncements of an urban intellectual set of panellists, on not ending up reinforcing negatives that could put off the undecided and lukewarm.

The poll panellists all agreed that the concern of the voters is largely based on economic issues such as the huge and growing corruption, the massive price rise, the slowing economy, the policy paralysis etc.

The considered opinion of the panellists that included Swapan Dasgupta, Yogendra Yadav, Surjit Bhalla and Ramchandra Guha, was that if the BJP concentrates on addressing these key concerns of the voting public during the poll campaign, in the remaining months before the elections, it will do even better than the poll indications.

There was a possibility discussed that the election could come sooner than the 9 or 10 months that remain between now and April 2014.

Modi will lead BJP to power if polls held today

This, if the UPA thinks it may be better to have the General Election before the forthcoming Assembly Election. Of the ones coming up, they could lose at least three, if not all four of them, said the panellists.

To follow on to the General Election after several defeats may not be very encouraging to their prospects, which are already under siege. That means the General Election could be upon us in three or four months.

While Narendra Modi is the preferred candidate for Prime Minister over Rahul Gandhi as per the poll, he needs to be supported more strongly by the various components and moving parts of the NDA to maximise gains. He is also ideally placed to push the NDA’s economic vision to enthuse the public, having done very well in his home State of Gujarat.

The loud assertion that the BJP is communal, a default posture when it comes to the Congress Party, is losing its power to influence because the Congress is suffering from massive anti-incumbency negatives and is seen to be responsible for the nation’s troubles on multiple fronts.

UPA policy paralysis: Modi challenges Congress for early polls

The poll suggests Congress will lose as many as 70 seats on its own from its previous 2009 tally of 206. Hopefully, Election Commission permitting, there will be more polls conducted that will show this precipitous fall getting worse for the Congress, and BJP and allies gaining further ground.

There is no doubt that economics now leads the purely political in any country around the world. Man cannot live on political rhetoric alone and most people have shifted position to make it very clear that it is important for them to get ahead.

Aspirations now have top billing, as many Muslims in Gujarat have indicated and voted their conviction in favour of Modi, and the political formation which can deliver on this is expected to get the vote nationally too.

The NDA as a whole therefore, along with its supporting organisations, needs to submerge all its long-pending political agenda issues towards communicating this singular objective in a convincing manner. All NDA and allied voices must present a unified vision and commitment to the economic betterment of India as the number one need of the day.

It is very easy to get entangled in debates of secularism versus communalism, but it is not material to the cause of winning this election and forming the next Government.

Even the arduous task of coalition-building after the election results are known will be easier by far if alliances are sought on the basis of an economic vision that potential allies can agree upon.

The other political point that could chime in very well with an economic main thrust is the issue of federalism. This is an election that will be won by a sum of States with the NDA being led by a Chief Minister of Gujarat, rather than someone from the BJP’s own ‘high-command’ sitting in New Delhi. The poll panellists did remark on this aspect as well.

The States of India have been chafing under various pressures exerted by a Centre to extract conformity on various issues and to ensure compliance to a coalition dharma. The States have, in turn, particularly if they are UPA allies but not part of Congress, extracted various concessions from the Centre including Ministerial berths and so on.

A Narendra Modi led Government is likely to give teeth to federalism and its empowerment via decentralisation of many issues in a way that cannot be reversed in future.

Congress has never been very good at treating its allies with respect, once they have managed to get what they want. For that matter, it tends to treat its own Chief Ministers as so many branch heads and the Governors of States and even the President of India, as conveniences to do its bidding.

Misuse of central agencies to harass and confound state governments is also very much part of their political style. Even Union Ministers at the Centre and Ministers of State are kept on a leash by similar means. There are no doubt historical reasons for this, developed from the excessive centralisation of power brought about during Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s long innings.

But the 2014 election may end up changing this model to quite some extent.

Painting Modi out to be an autocratic Chief Minister unsuited to Vajpayee-style coalition-management is also a canard, because no one can be this popular in his home State for over a decade, and now around large parts of the country also, without carrying people along with his vision and style.

As for strategic insight, not only has Modi, early in his campaign, made an impact in Uttar Pradesh, where the CNN-IBN poll puts the BJP tally higher than any of the others, but he was astute enough to realise it was going to be crucial to his campaign from the start.

This is only the first of many intelligent moves expected from him, but he needs to temper his brilliance with caution and discipline so that no one in the BJP or its allies blunts his march to power with discordant notes that don’t belong in his economic symphony

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