Modi factor to decide BJP’s fate
IT’S an established fact that electoral outcomes have been notoriously difficult to predict on account of vastly incongruent socio-political aspirations and differences in religious belief among the Indian voters. While wide range of issues usually crop up for intense debates during elections, governments in the respective states facilitate victory of candidates fielded by the ruling party. In the same way, state -level anti-incumbency factor also come into play in national politics. Manipur in particular has been synonymous with both phenomena as Lok Sabha MPs elected so far mostly belonged to the ruling parties, thus implying that candidates representing a given state’s ruling party enjoy an electoral advantage in national level elections, especially when national elections are held early in the state government’s term. Once this honeymoon period is over, holding power in the states becomes a liability. With exception to the northeast region where the electors have the tendency to exercise their franchise rights on the basis of which political entity hold the rein of power at the Centre, voters in many major states have the luxury to choose as is evident from increasing presence of MPs of regional parties like TDP, SP, BSP, TSR, etc., in the Lok Sabha. The trend of political allies sharing power at the Centre implies that regional parties have the number that the single largest party cannot ignore. These regional parties with national dimension have become a force to reckon with in India’s electoral politics as developmental disparities between big and small states as well as multi-community composition of the nation could not be addressed by a single party.
With political analysts constantly hinting at a fractured mandate in the 17th Lok Sabha elections, it seems that formation of a government by like-minded parties remains the only certainty. With known arch rivals like Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party cobbling up pre-poll alliance and many other political parties either agreeing on seat sharing formula or working to strike similar tie-ups, it is evident that all major political organisations are aware that coalition government is here to stay. Even the ruling BJP seeking to make inroads into uncharted territories by tying up with regional parties along with cementing its ties with the old partners indicates that the single party rule is no more viable. Regardless of BJP performing exceedingly well in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and creating the history of obtaining a clear majority on its own since 1984 (the Congress achieved a similar feat riding on the sympathy wave after the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi), the saffron party took along its pre-poll alliance partners in the government formation. Following the BJP’s decisive 2014 mandate and methodical expansion of its national footprints in subsequent state assembly elections, not many would have doubted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s credential to single-handedly bring back his party to power. The lion’s share of the credit for the BJP’s resurgence undoubtedly belongs to Modi, who remains the most popular politician in India. Opinion polls carried out by various agencies in subsequent years of the NDA-II rule had none to challenge the popularity of Modi’s who remained the choice of Indians as their preferred candidate for Prime Minister. Thus, the Modi factor will be decisive in whether or not the BJP pulls off yet another encore performance in the ensuing polls.