Congress mukt Bharat, no way, BJP on its way to become the new Congress


After securing a mammoth victory in the Lok Sabha elections, BJP’s mission is to occupy the position once enjoyed by Congress in the political space. Congress mukt Bharat version 2.O has been activated. Merger of two third of Congress MLAs in Goa with BJP and threat looming large over the coalition government with resignation of 16 MLAs are clear signals that BJP is out there to finish off competition.

BJP sees an opportunity to rule the country for years together (as per Ram Madhav till 2047) with the disintegration of the grand old party and competition left onlyfrom regional parties in some states. In its zeal to become the most dominant and powerful party, critics and even some sympathizers believe it is becoming the new Congress.Arun Shourie ex Finance Minister has in the past termed the new BJP under Modi as “Congress plus cow”.

Manohar Parrikar’s son has criticized the move to in Goa. “The words like trust and commitment which were at the core of the BJP during Manohar Parrikar’s time ceased to exist on March 17 [the day on which Parrikar died],” Utpal Parrikar told PTI. “The party has taken a different direction after March 17 and only time will tell whether it is the right one.”

Lets’ see in what ways is BJP similar to Congress.

Personification like Gandhis

While BJP boasts of being a cadre-based party, its glaring Modification is for all to see. Just like the Gandhi family, the party is slowly becoming all about Modi. The stupendous victory in Lok Sabha elections 2019 where BJP created a new record by crossing 300 seats on its own has solidified his position in the party. He’s created a larger than life image. Party slogans have centered around Modi, PhirekBaar Modi Sarkar rather than PhirekBaarBJP Sarkar, Modi hai to Mumkin Hai instead of BJP hai toMumkin Hai.

 

Win due to leadership, loss due to organization

Till recently, the darbari culture in Congress credited Gandhi family for victories and blamed the poor organization for losses. Though BJP hasn’t suffered many losses, last year it lost 3 state elections in Hindi heartland. The BJP didn’t hold any press conference to explain the loss. Though Modi extensively toured these states, he wasn’t blamed for losses. All state election wins and Lok Sabha elections 2019 victory have been attributed to him instead.

 

Power in the hands of a few

Along with Amit Shah the two enjoy complete control over the government and the party organization. The induction of Shah into the union cabinet has further strengthened their position. They take all calls, most people even in party are not aware of their moves. Many ex CMs are now at the mercy of the duo. They have appointed Chief Ministers in states who are considered lightweight like in Haryana and Jharkhand. The Gandhi family in the Congress party has been taking all major decisions for decades. They have been appointing loyalists in key positions.

 

Massive financial resources

In four years from 2013-14 to 2016-17, a study by ADR shows that BJP received 90% of all donations made by electoral trusts. In 2017-18, BJP got Rs 210 crore in poll bonds, all others only Rs 11 crore as per Election Commission. As per CMS, BJP spent nearly 45% – or Rs 27,000 crore – of total expenditure for 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Rahul Gandhi also highlighted this point in his resignation letter alleging that no election can be free in India if one party has a complete monopoly on financial resources.

 

Eliminating competition

After Modi came to power in 2014, the party elevated the senior leaders / elders like Advani, M.M. Joshi, Arun Shourie, Yashwant Siha into a newly created body called the Margdarshakmandal. They were denied ministerial berths citing the age factor (75+). Not a single meeting of the mandal has happened till date. They are not consulted on policy matters. In-fact Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie have openly highlighted these facts and criticized the Modi-Shah duo. In 2019 Lok Sabha elections Advani and Joshi were even denied tickets.

 

During Indira Gandhi days many senior leaders left the Congress party like Morarji Desai, Chandrasekhar, Biju Patnaik, Jagjivan Ram, Inder Kumar Gujral etc. Indira sidelined the old guard (Syndicate) after becoming Prime Minister, the same Syndicate who helped her occupy the position. Similarly, Advani played a key role in getting Modi the Chief Minister chair in Gujarat and also saved him from losing the job after Godhra riots. But he was ignored for the President post.

 

Jod–Tod politics to expand base at the cost of ideology

 

The recent turn of events in Goa and Karnataka are a case in point. Mukul Roy is claiming 107 MLAs of TMC, Congress and Left are willing to join the party in West Bengal ahead of state elections. TDP in Rajya Sabha has merged with BJP. 18 out of 23 TDP MLAs in the state of Andhra are open to merger as per reports. In Jharkhand 6 MLAs of Babulal Marandi’s party switched sides in 2015. In Arunachal, party succeeded in installing a BJP government in early 2017 helped by defections, within 2 years of state polls, where it had won just 11 out of 60 MLAs. Leaders across the political spectrum are joining the BJP to further their prospects.

 

This strategy is harmful in the long run

 

The big difference between the BJP and Congress is the support of the RSS cadre. Their leaning towards the BJP is on ideological grounds (Ram temple, Article 370, Uniform Civil Code etc.). This gives the BJP and edge in the elections. The party taps these selfless RSS cadre for disseminating its achievements and receiving feedback from the ground. The Congress also enjoyed similar selfless cadre during the initial years when a significant proportion of its workers / members were from the Freedom struggle.

 

However, over the years, the grand old party compromised on its principles and inducted power-hungry people in its ranks. As soon as it was out of power, the culture it bred completely destroyed the party. These opportunist people lost touched with the masses and again jumped ship leading to complete decay of the party. With increasing entrants from other parties with no ideological match, BJP is falling into the same trap. It could cause long-term damage that may not be visible today when the party’s graph is on an upswing.

 

To sum up, the BJP in trying to occupy the dominant political space once enjoyed by Congress is

seen committing the same mistakes as the grand old party. This is a risky strategy because due to high media penetration, the power cycles (number of uninterrupted years a party is in power at the centre) could become much shorter.

Image courtesy: whatsaaptext

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NDA gets working majority in Rajya Sabha after mammoth win in Lok Sabha


On 5th July when the nation was busy analyzing Budget, BJP won 2 Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat. These had fell vacant after Amit Shah and Smriti Irani won from Lok Sabha. With this, BJP led NDA has secured a working majority in the Rajya Sabha. After securing nearly 2/3rd victory in the Lok Sabha, the focus of BJP is to gain majority in the Rajya Sabha to enable easy passage of bills.

 

BJP crossed Congress tally in the upper house for first time ever in mid-2018. It has been dependent on the whims and fancies of the regional parties like BJD, TRS, YSRCP to get important legislations through in Modi 1.O. For legislations like Triple Talaq, Land Bill, Insurance Bill, BJP government has adopted the ordinance route after its failure to get it passed in Rajya Sabha due to lack of numbers. This much needed boost will help BJP fulfil its manifesto promises.

 

Current Strength

Party / Group Number of MPs Comments
BJP 78
BJP+ 36 AIADMK (11), BPF (1), JDU (6), RPI-A (1), SHS (3), SAD (3), SDF (1), PMK (1), IND (4), NOMINTED (3), AGP (1), LJP (1)
NDA 114
PRO-NDA 15 TRS (6), BJD (7), YSRCP (2)
TOTAL NDA 129
INC 48
INC+ 21 DMK (5), NCP (4), RJD (5), IUML (1), KC(M) (1), IND (2), NOMINATED (1), JDS (1), MDMK (1)
UPA 69
ANTI-NDA 44 AAP (3), TMC (13), BSP (4), SP (13), TDP (2), CPM (5), CPI (1), PDP (2), NPF (1)
TOTAL OPPOSITION 113
VACANCIES 3 BIHAR (1), ODISHA (1), RAJASTHAN (1)
TOTAL 245

Source: www.rajyasabha.nic.in, www.politicalbaba.com

 

Currently, NDA has 114 MPs in the Upper House. This includes 4 independent MPs who have won with NDA backing and 3 MPs nominated during Modi 1.0.  Along with Naveen Patnaik’s BJD, which supported a BJP candidate from Odisha despite being in a position to win all the 3 seats, the strength increases to 121. Along with pro NDA parties like TRS and YSRCP, who have supported BJP in the past, and are mainly anti-Congress, NDA enjoys the support of 129 MPs. Currently, 122 is the majority mark in Rajya Sabha as there are 3 vacancies.

 

UPA has 69 MPs including 2 independents and 1 nominated member. Along with anti-NDA parties like Mamata’s TMC, Kejriwal’s AAP, Mayawati’s BSP, Mulayam’s SP, Left parties, Naidu’s TDP and others, opposition led by UPA has the support of 113 MPs.

 

3 seats are vacant. The death of Rajasthan BJP Chief and MP Madan Lal Saini has created a vacany in the state. 1 seat is vacant in Odisha. 1 seat of Sharad Yadav (Bihar), disqualified, has been lying vacant since Dec. 2017.

 

Post Lok Sabha results BJP has consolidated its position in Rajya Sabha

  • 4 TDP MPs from Rajya Sabha joined BJP.
  • The lone INLD MP too has joined the BJP.
  • BJP-AGP combine won both the seats in Assam unopposed.
  • In Odisha, BJD won 2 and backed BJP candidate on 1 seat (unopposed). To note, BJD was earlier part of NDA.
  • In Bihar, LJP’s Ram Vilas Paswan won on the seat vacated by Ravi Shankar Prasad, as part of the seat sharing arrangement.
  • In Gujarat, BJP won both the seats, enabling External Affairs Minister Jaishankar to reach the Parliament.
  • In Tamil Nadu, AIADMK combine won 3, while DMK combine won the balance (unopoosed). Both PMK and MDMK bosses Ramadoss and Vaiko made it to the upper house.

BJP will further consolidate its position in Rajya Sabha in 2020

Over the next 5 years till March 2024, 169 MPs are retiring. Elections will be held for 72 seats in 2020, 8 each in 2021 and 2023, 77 in 2022 and 4 in 2024 before Lok Sabha polls.

In 2020, elections to 72 seats are likely to be held. The main states where Rajya Sabha elections will be held are – Andhra (4), Bihar (5), Gujarat (4), Karnataka (4), Tamil Nadu (6), Maharashtra (7), West Bengal (5) and Uttar Pradesh (10). BJP currently holds 15 seats and its allies 11 seats. In between, the elections to Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana are due in 2019.

 

The biggest gains for BJP are likely to come from UP where BJP swept the 2017 state elections. 10 seats of UP are due for re-elections in 2020. BJP which currently has just 1 MP, is likely to win 9 out of these 10 seats. K.T.S. Tulsi nominated by UPA is also retiring in 2020. This will enable NDA to nominate a man of their choice.

 

If we assume that the parties’ respective strength in the three states will remain the same (i.e. BJP retaining power), which is not unjustified considering that BJP led NDA has swept these states in Lok Sabha elections held recently, NDA is expected to gain 11 seats in 2020. By the end of 2020, NDA is likely to have the support of 125 MPs (simple majority on its own).

 

UPA strength is likely to reduce to 64 MPs. NDA will also enjoy a cushion of 24 MPs of regional parties (BJD, TRS, YSRCP) which are likely to provide issue-based support as in the past. Together with pro NDA parties BJP is likely to have support of 149 MPs just 13 short of two-third majority required to pass constitutional amendments.

BJP has a working majority now in Rajya Sabha. By the end of 2020, it is likely to further consolidate its position in the upper house which will help the party to further its development agenda.

Image courtesy: cnn

Vintage Mayawati style of making excuses for defeatbehind the divorce with Akhilesh


Mayawati and Akhilesh have formally called it quits. At an all India meeting of party office bearers in Lucknow on 23rdJune, 2019, Mayawati, showing true colours, attacked Akhilesh blaming him for the failure of the bekaaralliance. The Mahagathbandhan proved to be a misnomer considering the results. BSP will contest all future polls on a standalone basis, announced Mayawati on twitter. Yeh to hona hi tha.

Mayawati prepares pitch forAnand as crowning prince of BSP

 

In the same meeting Mayawati appointed her brother Anand Kumar as national Vice President and nephew Aakash Anand (who is believed to be the heir to the throne) as national coordinator. Most regional parties today are family held like RJD, DMK, BJD, JMM, TRS, TDP, YSRCP, SP, RLD, PDP, NC, SHS etc., so criticizing her alone of following dynasty politics would not be correct.

In-fact, most patriarchs try to close the leadership loop during their life so their children / relatives do not face opposition from ambitious leaders post their retirement / death. Family is the glue which holds there parties together and prevents them from disintegration.

Mayawati made 3 sharp allegations against Akhilesh and SP – A fact check

Allegation No. 1: Mayawati alleged SP failed to transfer Yadav votes to the alliance

Fact Check: This is factually incorrect. MGB received 39% vote share in 2019 down from 43% in 2014. The leakage of 10% in relative terms implies 90% of voters of SP and BSP seamlessly transferred votes to each other candidates. The Yadav support for MGB increased from 56% in 2014 to 60% in 2019. If Yadavs had not voted for BSP, how come did it win 10 seats, double the tally of SP. Out of the 10 seats that BSP won, on 6 of them namely Bijnor, Nagina, Amroha, Shrawasti, Lalganj and Ghazipur, SP was the runner up in 2014.

Akhilesh’s family members lost in Kannauj (Dimple Yadav), Badaun (Dharmendra Yadav) and Firozabad (Akshay Yadav) despite a high SC population between 17%-19% in these districts. This clearly shows that SP was able to transfer its core Yadav votes to BSP. In-fact, it appears that Dalits didn’t wholeheartedly back SP candidates in some seats. It is vintage Mayawati style of making excuses for defeat.

 Support received by MGB from various caste / religious groups

Source: NES 2014, 2019

 Allegation No. 2: Mayawati accused Akhilesh of working against non-Yadav backward communities

 Fact Check: This is not something which Mayawati didn’t know before forming an alliance. SP has been accused of working for the betterment of Yadavs and ignoring the Non-Yadav OBCs. This was exploited to the hilt by the BJP in 2014 elections, where SP and BSP combined could get only 24% of NYOBC votes.

The Prime Minister coming from this community galvanized the NYOBC votes towards BJP. In-fact BJP has further consolidated NYOBC votes in its favour recording a gain of 12% support in 2019. Mayawati similarly is to be blamed for ignoring the claims of non-Jatavs and not sharing with them the power pie when she was the CM. Due to this 48% non-Jatavs backed the BJP in 2019, up from 45% in 2014.

Allegation No. 3: Mayawati alleged Akhilesh of neglecting Muslims while he was the CM of UP

 Fact Check: This accusation may have some merit. SP despite being a favourite of Muslim community in the state has not developed key Muslim leadership in the party. However, this holds true for all so-called secular parties including BSP and Congress. Even Mayawati has no tall Muslim leader in the party. In 2017 after drubbing in state elections, Maywati expelled party’s key Muslim face, Naseemuddin Siddiqui and son from the party for ‘anti-party activities’.

Electorally, however, the Muslim community did back the MGB. 6 MPs out of 15 belong to the minority community. BJP won 36 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats where Muslims form 20 percent of the population as per an India Today report. This could be attributed to Mayawati’s statement calling out Muslims not to waste their vote on Congress. This led to counter polarization.

Why alliance failed?

Both MGB and NDA were at similar vote share levels of 43% before the Lok Sabha polls 2019. MGB partners managed to transfer 90% votes to each other, which is not bad, as some leakage is bound to happen. May be, they could have done better at 95% transfer which could have added 2% vote share to their tally. However, still they wouldn’t have managed to defeat the BJP.

MGB needed to make a dent in BJP vote bank which they failed to so. They needed to woo Brahmins, Thakurs and NYOBC groups like Rajbhars, Nishads, Kurmis etc. which they couldn’t. Modi magic 2.O helped the BJP meander through the caste ridden politics and attract youth from core segments of SP (Yadavs) and BSP (Dalits).

 To sum up, it was from the start an unnatural / opportunistic alliance which was bound to be short-lived. The famous Hindi adage comes to my mind ‘ekmayanmein do talwareinnahin rah sakti’.Mayawati’s allegations and accusations do not hold water as seen above. Now the focus shifts to 12 assembly constituency by-polls and state elections in 2022.

Image courtesy: histustantimes

Did social media really influence Lok Sabha elections 2019?


Social media today is the most popular and fastest medium of communication. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections BJP and then its Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi used the medium to propagate its ideology and highlight the corruption scandals of UPA 2. At that time, other leaders and parties had not realized its importance giving Modi a free run in social media platforms. In-fact Rahul Gandhi joined twitter a year later in April 2015.

The 2014 elections in many ways is called India’s first social media elections. According to BJP IT Cell Head Arvind Gupta, it impacted results of 30 to 40 percent of the seats. Congress gearing up its social media infrastructure with IT cell, volunteers, verified accounts, influencers and even conservative parties like BSP registered its presence on the medium. The Congress versus BJP battle in 2019 was expected to be played out on social media. The increase in number of smartphones and cheaper data plans by Jio have helped in increased usage of social media platforms.

CSDS-Lokniti along with Konrad Adenauer Stiftunghave come out with a report analyzing the role of social media in shaping political preferencesand attitudes in 2019 Lok Sabha elections.The report has analyzed five social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram and YouTube.

To answer the question ‘Did social media really influence the results of Lok Sabha elections?’, we have to analyze the following factors:

  1. How many people are on social media?

As per the report, Whatsapp is the most popular social media platform with 31% of population using it (daily / weekly / monthly / rarely combined basis). YouTube and Facebook are used by 27%-28% of population, whereas Twitter is used by just 7% of population.

College and up to matric educated people account for 90% of users across most social media platforms. Youth (18-35 years) account for 70%-75% of users. Urban users account for 45%-55% of Top 3 platforms (FB, WhatsApp &Youtube), semi-urban 30%-40% while rural 20%-25%. While 60%-70% of users are men, 30%-40% users across platforms are women.

  1. How many people use social media regularly?

Only 10% of population has high exposure to social media. 36% of the population has some sort of exposure to social media (high + moderate + low), implying majority 64% have no exposure. This could lead us to believe that social media didn’t play such a key role.

Caste wise break-up of daily / weekly users suggest that upper caste dominate the usage pattern across all platforms. The surprise package is the Muslim community which is ahead of OBCs in usage across platforms. This despite the fact that muslims account for about one-third of OBC population in India.

  1. What is the turnout of these groups?

The number of people who have no exposure to social media outnumbers those who are exposed to social media (1.75 times). If the turnout of people who have some sort of exposure is higher, then this could be compensated for. However, there is no data on caste wise or age wise turnout.

It is believed that youth and minorities generally come out in larger numbers to vote. For the first time ever, women who have comparatively lesser social media exposure than men, recorded same turnout as men.

  1. How did the various groups vote?

While support for BJP was higher than Congress across all categories of users, daily users and weekly users were more likely to vote for BJP than Congress. The lead among daily and weekly users for BJP over Congress is 21% and 19% on Facebook and 26% and 19% on Twitter.

 

 

NDA enjoyed highest lead versus UPA among high exposure upper caste members (+47%) and lowest among high exposure SCs. On the other hand UPA lead was highest among no exposure Muslims (+36%).

BJP led NDA received more support from high exposure to social media individuals across caste / community groups except in the case of OBCs and Others. Congress led UPA on the other hand received more support from high exposure to social media individuals belonging to OBCs and SCs. Muslims and Others having no exposure to social media are likely to vote more for UPA compared to NDA.

Conclusion

Social media played a key role in Lok Sabha elections 2019. Key findings listed below:

  • 36% people have exposure to social media platforms.
  • High and moderate exposure individuals have more likely voted for the BJP than the Congress.
  • BJP enjoys twice the support for Congress among high / moderate exposure individuals.
  • Across caste / community groups, BJP got higher support from high and moderate exposure to social media individuals.

  • This also shows that BJP’s social media team managed its handles better than opposition and was able to push through its message and content in a better fashion. The lakhs of whatsapp groups it created helped the party a lot in these elections.

With the increase in internet penetration, social media is likely to play an even bigger role in upcoming state and next Lok Sabha elections. Opposition parties have to pull up their socks and beef up their social media teams and campaigns to take on the BJP.

Image courtesy: blogherald

Simultaneous Elections Is A Good Idea But More Urgent Electoral Reforms Required Before One Nation One Poll


Prime Minister Modi called for an all-party meeting to discuss one nation one poll on 18th June, 2019. Out of 40 parties invited, only 21 attended. The principal opposition party Congress boycotted the meeting. After the meeting it was finalized that a committee will be formed to look into all its aspects and present a report in a time bound manner. Simultaneous elections also featured prominently in President’s joint address to Parliament signaling this is one of the priority legislations of Modi 2.O.

All the 29 states and 2 union territories which have Chief Ministers will go to polls in the next five years. This results in India being in election mode throughout the 5-year term of any Lok Sabha. Since Modi is the star campaigner of the party, he is expected to seek votes for BJP in all these state elections. For example, Modi held 34 rallies in Gujarat in 2017, 21 in Karnataka, 10 in Madhya Pradesh and 3 in Telangana in 2018. All this sucks a lot of precious time a Prime Minister’s Office.

Not only he but many cabinet ministers also have to campaign. For example, Heath Minister J.P. Nadda was stationed in UP for 4 months ahead of Lok Sabha elections 2019, as he was the state in-charge for BJP. 50 ministers were sent to Gujarat to propagate work done by BJP government at the centre. All this, impacts the functioning of the government. Simultaneous elections will save Rs. 4,800 crores of government exchequer as per NitiAyog report.

While this is not such a big amount, (less than 1% of government’s budgeted expenditure), what appeals to me most is that, it will significantly enhance our governance infrastructure. Prime Minister, Chief Ministers of states, central government ministers, bureaucrats etc. all will save precious time. Despite the advantages, simultaneous polls is not the most burning issue in the country at the moment. Nor it is the most significant electoral reform pending, many basic issues need to be sorted out first.

  1. Change in definition of national / state party

Currently there are 8 national parties in India – BJP, INC, NCP, TMC, BSP, CPM, CPI and NPP. TMC, NCP and CPM have no significant presence outside their home states of West Bengal, Maharashtra and Kerala. Truly speaking apart from BJP and Congress no other party qualifies to be a national party. Parties which secure minimum 5% vote share in national / state elections should be declared as national / state party.

  1. State funding of elections – AamAadmi can’t fight

Currently the expenditure limit for MLA elections is Rs. 28 lakhs and MP election is Rs. 70 lakhs. Additionally, party can spend umpteen amount on star campaigners. As per CMS, Rs. 60,000 crores were spent on Lok Sabha elections 2019, implying more than 100 crores spent in one constituency. How can an aamaadmi who doesn’t get ticket from established parties contest the elections? It has become a game for the rich and well-off. This will reduce use of black money in elections and bring in a transparent funding mechanism.

  1. Fixed tenure of MLA / MP

An MLA or MP should have a fixed tenor of 5 years. He / she should not be allowed to resign in between the term or change his / her party. In case of resignation, the runner up should be given a chance to represent the constituency. This is necessary to prevent jumping from one party to another and then standing on different party ticket in by-elections.

Many MLAs contest as candidates for Lok Sabha elections and if they go on to win, elections are forced upon us and the taxpayer has to bear the expenses of repoll. For example, in Uttar Pradesh, by-polls to 12 seats are likely to be held this year due to this reason. An MLA / MLC / Rajya Sabha MP who wishes to contest for Lok Sabha should first resign from current seat before filing nominations.

  1. Fixed tenure of assembly / Parliament

For simultaneous polls idea to be successful, the state assemblies and Parliament should have a fixed tenure. Otherwise, the chain of one nation one poll can be broken if a state assembly or Lok Sabha is dissolved in between. Two things can derail this process.

  • What happens in case of a hung house, if none of the parties are able to form a government? – A government then should be formed with CM / PM of SLP (single largest party) and cabinet berths allotted in the proportion of seats won by various parties.
  • What happens if an elected government loses majority in the house? – Any no-confidence motion should be accompanied with an alternative government formation arrangement with signatures of MPs / MLAs in advance.
  1. Change in NOTA rules

Currently, NOTA is just a tool for registering protest. Even if NOTA gets the highest number of votes, the runner up candidate is declared as winner. However, such a situation has not occurred till date. If NOTA gets the highest number of votes, re-elections should take place. Candidates and parties who secure less votes than NOTA shouldn’t be allowed to contest the next elections. Both BJP and INC recorded lesser vote share than NOTA in Andhra assembly polls held recently.

  1. Provision of e-voting

Despite efforts of Election Commission and awareness campaigns the turnout in India for Lok Sabha elections was below 70%. Many people who have migrated to other cities for work hold voter ids in their birthplace and are not able to vote. Election Commission should have an option of Aadhar enabled e-voting which is likely to give a boost to overall turnout especially in metros and cities. With everything moving to internet, people should be allowed online voting. This will also save time and costs.

  1. Contest from 2 seats feature should be stopped

People should not be allowed to contest from 2 seats. They in the end retain only one and this leads to re-elections and additional cost. If this is to be allowed, the party which vacates the seat should not be allowed to stand in by-elections or should bear the expenses of re-election. Alternatively, candidate who was second should be declared winner.

  1. Right to recall

Voters should have a right to recall. Should it be exercised every year? It is perhaps not practical. I suggest it should be done after 2.5 years of MP / MLA tenure. Do we carry out a full-fledged voting (cost angle) or a survey or an opinion poll sort of thing can be worked out. It will act as a deterrence for non-performing MPs.

While one nation one poll is a good idea, there are more urgent electoral reforms required before we take up this contentious.

Image courtesy:  oneindia

How Congress can revive itself?


Congress party is facing its biggest existential crisis ever. The party for the second consecutive election has won record low number of seats. It is unlikely to get even the Leader of Opposition status for 2nd time in a row. The Congress party was in a direct fight with BJP on 186 Seats, where it lost 171, winning only 15. Rahul owing up to the defeat has offered to resign as Party President. Congress party which cannot live without a Gandhi scion at the top is resisting any such move and wants Rahul to continue. Rahul is adamant and has asked the party to search for a new President.

While it is a good move, it is not devoid of risks as Lalu Yadav put up in an article for Telegraph. The party may split as happened during Narasimha Rao and Sitaram Kesri’s time with various disgruntled leaders like Arjun Singh, ND Tiwari, MadhavraoScindia forming their own parties. The party doesn’t have a clear second leadership and many leaders are vying for the top slot which adds to the troubles. But do they have anybody who will be accepted by all the factions and take on Modi 2.0 is a key question.

Just one chart explains the troubles of Congress. The votes received by the party in 2019 (under Rahul) is the same as in 1989 (under Rajiv) while the total votes polled in the elections have doubled from 31 crores to 61 crores during the same period.

Votes Polled By Congress Party In Last Three Decades

 

 

Source: www.indiavotes.com

There are five things which Congress must do to arrest the decline in its vote share and defeat the Congress-mukt-Bharat plan of BJP and RSS.

  1. Rahul as Leader in Lok Sabha, Someone else as Party President

This will lead to division of responsibilities and reduce the burden on Rahul. While he will be tasked with exposing BJP’s failures in the Parliament, the President can focus on strengthening the party organization. The party president can travel through the length and breadth of the country putting the house in order.Rahul, can then focus on the bigger picture, policies and programs and present an alternate view to countrymen of Congress ideology and philosophy.

The party has failed to corner the BJP in the Parliament giving them a free run for five years. Since the proceedings are televised live, it reaches a bigger audience. Some of the past speeches by Rahul have been appreciated by the people of the country.

  1. Create a MargdarshakMandal on the lines of BJP

The party badly needs a margdarshakmandal. The CWC, the highest decision-making body is full of Indira-Rajiv-Sonia loyalists, many people above the age of 70, like Motilal Vora, Manmohan etc. They are out of sync with a young country as India. They need to be removed from CWC and put up in a think tank or advisory kind of committee. LoP and President can seek their help and advice on matters they require. An age limit can be put like in BJP, anybody above 75 and part of CWC will be moved to this mandal.

  1. Dismantle CWC, replace with young blood

The highest decision-making body needs to be dismantled all together. It is full of people with no mass base. It even has people who are not members of any house of Parliament. It is a very large body (53 members including permanent and special invitees) versus BJP’s Parliamentary Party Board strength of 12. The average age of CWC is 69 versus 60 for CPM Politburo and 57 of BJP Parliamentary Board.

It also consists of many dynasts including the Gandhi siblings, Gogois (father-son duo), Scindia, son of late Jitiendra Prasad, daughter of late Santosh Mohan Dev, late Jagjivan Ram’s daughter and former CM Bhajan Lal’s son. A popular leader, deputy CM of Rajasthan and one touted to replace Rahul, Sachin Pilot is not a member of CWC. When Rahul became President, it was expected that he would correct the imbalances in CWC, but he made only cosmetic changes.

  1. Increase Women, Dalit and Minority members

The party preaches secularism but has not developed tall Muslim leaders. It is now even being accused by the members of the community of doing lip service and not providing proper representation. The Muslims vote is split between Congress and regional parties nationally. Only 7% of party candidates were Muslims while their population is 14% national. The party has only 3 leaders from community in CWC while as per proportional representation it should be 7.

The party promised 33 percent reservation to women in Parliament. In CWC it has only 17% women members, half of what is promised. It has to first of all set an example. It needs to induct more women and minority / dalit community leaders in the CWC. After all, Brahmins, Dalits and Minorities used to be its traditional vote-bank.

  1. Build new voting block

The chart above shows it has not been able to add a single vote block to its anchor voting segments. In-fact it has lost Brahmins to BJP (kamandal) and OBCs (mandal) to regional outfits of Janata Dal and BJP. It has also lost sizeable section of minority votes to regional satraps and dalit votes to BSP. In the wake of new voting patterns emerging, people voting across caste / class lines (especially youth), women coming out in large numbers and voting on their own and first-time voters coming into the elections space without any baggage, new strategies and targeting need to be employed.

To sum up, Congress is by default the number two party in India and whenever people find an alternative, they vote for the grand old party like in three Hindi heartland states late last year. But it also has to be wary of one thing. It has been receiving 25%-35% vote share in many states without winning a single seat. Its voter in those states may grow impatient and start looking for alternatives to defeat the BJP. The sooner it realizes the better for the party…

Image courtesy: indiavotekar

Why Congress chose Sonia as Interim President?


The much-anticipated Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting to find Rahul Gandhi’s successor took place on Saturday, 10th August. After 12 hours of deliberations, the party announced that Sonia Gandhi, will be the interim President till new President is elected in All India Congress Committee (AICC) session.

A.K. Antony opined in the CWC that pushing Sonia to take the job of Party Chief is not a good idea considering her health. Sonia also was also not eager to take the charge and agreed with Antony as per press reports. However, other members of the CWC persuaded her saying it was the best decision for the time being.

The announcement came after Rahul had categorically stated in his resignation letter that the new arrangement should not have any member of the Gandhi family. This announcement ended 2.5 months of drama. Without a captain at the helm, the party lost 2/3rd of its MLAs in Goa, alliance government in Karnataka and a few Rajya Sabha MPs since its disastrous performance in the Lok Sabha elections.

Critics and even a section of supporters are confused whether this step is for the future or takes them back in the past. The 72-year old Sonia handed over the baton to Rahul 20 months ago and is battling an illness. This may be her last stint as an MP. She is very close to retirement from politics.

It is ironical that the oldest political party of India which has crores of members and which is undoubtedly credited with getting Indian independence from British rule, could not even find one person to become a President and that too interim.

In the end it boiled down to a tussle between the old and new guard which had intensified after Rahul’s elevation to President’s post. It was also evident in party’s response to Article 370 abrogation and J&K bifurcation. While old guard opposed the move (Ghulam Nabi Azad, P. Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal), the new brigade (Deepender Hooda, JyotiradityaScindia, Murli Deora) supported it. The chorus for a young leader at the helm was ignored because the old guard felt threatened and risked marginalization.

The move is aimed at restoring continuity in the organizational structure. Sonia has been party president for almost 20 years. An under rated President, she built the party after death of her husband Rajiv. For half of her tenure, the Congress party ruled in the centre from 2004-2014. She is credited with bringing on path breaking initiatives like RTE, NREGA etc. But the party also suffered a humiliating defeat in 2014 under Sonia’s leadership. It also lost many states elections post 2014.

The party cannot survive without a Gandhi helm at the top. Gandhi family is the glue which holds all the factions together. If anybody else was appointed, there could have been a rebellion, and mass exodus. Some young and powerful regional leaders were already dropping hints of leaving the party. CWC hopes Sonia’s appointment will help to keep the party together in these challenging times. Elections to 4 states are due in the next six months and party didn’t want to take any risk.

Critics of Rahul within the party have highlighted that he doesn’t share a good rapport with opposition leaders. His failure to stitch alliances and make work the one to one contest formula is cited as examples. Many regional satraps consider him as a junior and prefer negotiations with Sonia.

 

 

But will this move, enthuse the party workers? The party is facing an existential crisis. 65% of India’s population is under 35 years of age, and the need of the hour was youth leadership. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh also advocated that new Congress President be one who connects with youth and fulfills their aspirations.

The move has protected the vested interests of the sycophants of the Gandhi family. Many in CWC haven’t fought elections for years. They are there because of their loyalty to Indira / Rajiv / Sonia. Any new leadership would have made sweeping changes in the CWC and AICC robbing them of their powers.

The fact that in effect it is a temporary arrangement doesn’t augur well for the party. There are many unanswered questions. Who after Sonia? When will AICC session for elections be held? Will Sonia continue as life time President? Will Rahul make a comeback? Or will it be Priyanka after Sonia? This confusion is not good specially when the party worker is demoralized.

Change is the only constant. This status quo shows the inability of the Congress to think out of the box in a challenging environment. It reeks of lethargy. When the party cannot find a President of the party outside of Gandhi family, how can it come up with ideas, programs and policies for a New India. How will it be able to decimate the BJP?

The party has not yet conducted an introspection for the loss. It needs to do a complete overhaul and restructuring of the organization structure. It remains to be seen whether Sonia undertakes this massive exercise or waits for the new President to do it. She is used to the coterie around her which could further delay this process. Meanwhile BJP social media machinery is working overtime to ensure this step of falling back upon dynasty reaches every nook and corner of the country.

First, the opposition to Article 370 abrogation and now the appointment of another Gandhi, at the helm, even for the time being has further weakened Congress party’s standing in the political landscape of India. The road ahead looks very tough for the grand old party.

 

Image courtesy: awaaznation

Lok Sabha Election Results Analysis


All my Lok Sabha election results analysis at one place!

31 May. 2019: Five Factors That Determined The 2019 Results

28 May 2019: Why people rejected opportunistic alliances in 2019 polls

28 May, 2019: 10 myths about BJP that the 2019 polls busted

27 May, 2019: Five reasons why Rahul Gandhi is the biggest loser in 2019 elections

26 May, 2019: How BJP Trumped SP-BSP With Congress’ Help In Uttar Pradesh

25 May, 2019: How PM Modi ‘Trumped Caste’ Again In the Hindi Heartland

24 May, 2019: Eight reasons why Congress was routed in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections

24 May, 2019: Seven reasons behind BJP’s stunning victory

24 May, 2019: The Narendra Modi-Amit Shah victory script

23 May, 2019: Thugbandhan fails in Uttar Pradesh; BJP sweeps the state

22 May, 2019: Why Amit Shah is India’s modern day Chanakya

22 May, 2019: Here’s why BJP is a truly national party now

 

#Elections2019: Uttar Pradesh, A cakewalk for none


Politicalbaaba

Mayawati and Akhilesh have sealed the deal for the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) which sends the highest number of Members to Parliament. BJP swept the state in 2014 riding on Modi wave and its development agenda trumping caste politics. Opinion polls predict heavy losses for BJP in the state. In this article, we look at eleven key factors which will determine the results of UP in 2019.

Transfer of votes without leakages: The success of any alliance depends upon the ability of partners to transfer their votes to each other with limited leakages. While in Bihar in 2015, a similar Mahagathbandhan (MGB) of Lalu, Nitish and Congress succeeded in doing so, in UP, alliance of SP-Congress failed to shift votes to each other in 2017. An informal alliance of SP and BSP for three bypolls succeeded vote transfer in bypolls last year.

Management of rebels: SP and BSP contested…

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#Elections2019: Why Mamata Banerjee is frightened of BJP despite dominating Bengal


Politicalbaaba

Mamata Banerjee’s government denied permission to Yogi Adityanath and Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s helicopters to land in Bengal. This after repeatedly refusing to allow top BJP leaders to hold rallies and conduct yatras in the state. The Kolkata Police, clearly at Mamata’s command, also entered into a stand-off with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that had come to the city to interrogate police commissoner Rajeev Kumar in relation to the Saradha chit fund scam.

Where have we seen ruling governments denying the Opposition permission for conducting rallies? Which state police has ever arrested CBI officials who have come for investigation? Why is Mamata afraid of the BJP and its leadership which according to her is a fringe player in the state?

It is difficult to fathom! As part of its project to improve its position in east and south India, the BJP is putting in all efforts and using star…

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#Elections2019: Rahul Gandhi and Congress apart, triple anti-incumbency looms as major threat to Narendra Modi’s return in 2019


Politicalbaaba

BJP is hopeful of bettering its 2014 Lok Sabha performance in 2019. It has formed governments in 13 states which have held elections after May 2014 and retained two states. Along with its allies, the party now rules 20 states which send 63 percent of total MPs to the Lower House. Narendra Modi’s approval ratings remain high and he enjoys a lead of over 30 percent versus Rahul Gandhi in India Today Mood of the Nation Survey.

However, all is not hunky dory for the party. BJP has lost four Lok Sabha by-polls held in 2018, all in the Hindi heartland. The Opposition has smelled blood and Congress is leading discussions to form a grand alliance. Whereas, regional parties like TMC and TRS have initiated a discussion to form a Federal Front. Amidst this background, a number of commentators have started questioning BJP’s ability to repeat its historic performance in…

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#Elections2019: BJP, Hold Onto Allies – Regional Parties Will Call Shots in 2019


Politicalbaaba

The regional parties can smell blood after a tight contest in Gujarat and bypoll results in Rajasthan. They see the prospect of a hung Parliament and the return of true coalition governments which would enhance their bargaining power.

Even some right-wing columnists like Minhaz Merhant, Swapan Dasgupta, and recently, Rajesh Jain have voiced their apprehensions about a Narendra Modi sweep of the scale of 2014 being repeated in 2019.

I have been saying this for long that since BJP has peaked in many states, it is difficult for the party to maintain its previous tally, and there isn’t enough scope to compensate for the loss of seats. This means we are staring at a depleted BJP in Lok Sabha in 2019, though it may continue to be the single largest party.

The Telugu Desam Party (TDP), which has 15 Members of Parliaments (MP), is on the verge of leaving the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Its MPs…

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#Elections2019: Non-Yadav OBCs, non-Jatav Dalits hold key to success in UP Lok Sabha elections 2019


Politicalbaaba

Mayawati and Akhilesh have announced an alliance for the key state of Uttar Pradesh. The BJP won 71 out of 80 seats from the state in 2014 which propelled it to cross the halfway mark in the same year. Data shows that the split of votes between the SP and BSP helped the party. Though two plus two is not always four in politics, and there are several challenges ahead for mahagathbandhan in UP, which has made the contest interesting.

Caste is cast in stone in UP

Caste plays a key role in politics in India, more so in the Hindi heartland states. A survey by The Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) and Azim Premji Institute shows that 55% of Indians are likely to prefer the candidate of their caste in elections. The ‘agadey versus pichadey’ contest has been intensified in UP since the Mandal issue.

The Ram…

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#Elections2019: Can The UP Mahagathbandhan Put The Brakes On Mission Modi In 2019?


Politicalbaaba

The bua and babua jodi in Uttar Pradesh announced their alliance in the state on Mayawati’s birthday on Saturday. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) will contest on 38 seats each, leaving four seats for the others, not clear for whom. Mayawati thundered that this alliance will give sleepless nights to Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Anti-BJP parties and opposition are placing their hopes on this duo to defeat BJP in their stronghold. To note, BJP won one-fourth of its total tally in 2014 from Uttar Pradesh. Prime Minister Modi is a member of Parliament from Varanasi. While the mahagathbandhan hopes to defeat BJP in Uttar Pradesh and unseat Modi from Delhi, party president Amit Shah thundered at BJP national convention that National Democratic Alliance (NDA) would better its record and win 74 seats in 2019, one more than 2014 tally.

By-Poll Victories Not An Honest…

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#Elections2019: BSP-SP Alliance Is A Challenge But UP’s History Gives BJP Hope


Politicalbaaba

Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party and Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party today held a joint press conference to announce the much-awaited grand alliance (mahagathbandhan) for Uttar Pradesh. The BSP and the SP will contest 38 seats each, leaving 4 for others, mostly 2 family seats of the Congress and 2 for others (Nishad Party, in all likelihood). Mayawati thundered that this alliance will give sleepless nights to the BJP. Akhilesh commented that the BJP was trying to promote hatred in the land of Lord Ram and dividing people along communal lines. In theory, the MGB poses a stiff challenge to the BJP in 2019 after defeating BJP candidates in three by-polls last year, including the seats previously held by the CM and Deputy CM.

UP Helped BJP Gain Majority in 2014

The BJP swept the state bagging 71 out of 80 seats, even higher than at the peak of the Ram Mandir…

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#Elections2019: Mahagathbandhan: From lack of trust to vote blocks, 5 challenges before grand alliance in Uttar Pradesh


Politicalbaaba

As per press reports, a deal has been sealed between SP, BSP and RLD for a grand alliance (mahagathbandhan) in Uttar Pradesh to take on the BJP. As per the deal, the SP and BSP will get 37 seats each to contest, while Ajit Singh’s RLD will get three seats and Nishad Party one seat. The mahagathbandhan has left out Congress from the seat-sharing arrangement, however, it will not field any candidate in the Gandhi family-stronghold seats of Amethi and Rae Bareli.

The BJP had swept the state in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, bagging 71 out of 80 seats, representing one-fourth of its overall tally of 282. An informal mahagathbandhan defeated the BJP in three by-polls of Gorakhpur, Phulpur and Kairana held last year which ultimately crystallised in this form. This has given hope to the anti-Modi / anti-BJP parties that by restricting the party…

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#Elections2019: Modi’s Approval Ratings, Swing Voters to Shape Result


Politicalbaaba

With the Lok Sabha elections due in April-May this year, the invincibility of the ruling party at the Centre, that is, the BJP’s herculean election machinery and the durability of the ‘Modi factor’, is being openly questioned.

This notwithstanding, it doesn’t look like the Congress party alone can beat the BJP in the 2019 general elections. Thus, the idea of a mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) has been afloat for a while, but it is yet to see fruition.

100 days is a long time in politics, and the narrative for the general elections in 2019 is yet to be set. Here, we analyse the math for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Voter Bases & the Task of Government Formation

BJP’s lowest vote share during this period (as above) (excluding the 1989 number when party was still young) is 18.8 percent in 2009. This is its core vote bank, comprising…

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#Elections2019: Federal clout at power centre


Politicalbaaba

Regional parties have played a key role in government formation at the Centre since the advent of the coalition era in 1989. BJP’s loss in three Hindi heartland states have given them hope of a hung Parliament in 2019 where they could again play the role of a kingmaker. Many such parties are discussing with Congress to form the mahagathbandhan (MGB) to take on the BJP. Alliances in key states of UP, Bihar, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, which account for 207 seats, out of which NDA won 150 in 2014, will decide the course of 2019.

Uttar Pradesh: The entire premise that BJP will have a tough time in 2019 is built on the alliance between Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in UP. It was tested in bypolls to three seats earlier this year where BJP recorded big losses. BSP and SP have a solid…

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#Elections2019: BJP, 2019, And The Durability Of The ‘Modi Factor’


Politicalbaaba

The Indian National Congress has made significant inroads in the three Hindi heartland states defeating the Bharatiya Janata Party in its den. These states account for 65 Lok Sabha seats out of which BJP won 62 in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The historical trend shows that whichever party wins these state elections goes on to win the maximum seats in the Lok Sabha election that is held within three-four months of the assembly mandate. BJP’s tally is expected to reduce by half, on the basis of a simple extrapolation of the state results. The results have made the 2019 contest wide open with no clear favourites.

Did The Modi Factor Work, Or Fail In 2018?

The boost the BJP gets from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal political capital—which took the party past the finish line in elections over the last few years—has often been referred to as the ‘Modi…

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#Elections2019: The Countdown to the Circus Begins


The Election Commission has announced the dates for Lok Sabha elections 2019. The elections will be held in 7 phases from April 11 to May 19. The results will be announced on May 23. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi is hoping to get a second term on the plank of majboot sarkar versus majboor sarkar, Congress emboldened by the three wins in the Hindi heartland states is hoping to stop the BJP juggernaut.

The National elections in India are like a circus. Groups of men from different parties’ camp across cities in India. They camp in a city for a month or so, campaign for their respective parties and return to the Head Quarters waiting for another round of elections. There are national level branded circuses like Congress and BJP, and regional circuses like SP, BSP, DMK, TMC, BJD etc. Lions (top leadership of national and regional parties), jokers / entertainers (spokespersons) and ringmasters (local heavyweight karyakartas) are the mainstay of any circus.

Lions are fast becoming rare species, nowadays, while jokers are a plenty. Even the national level circuses have only one lion on whom they rely solely. He hops from one city to another showing his prowess. Jokers fill in the gap and entertain the crowd. While lions of the circus draw crowds and get maximum applaud, it is the ringmaster (local heavyweight karyakarta) who play a key role in converting this audience into votes on the D-Day. They fulfill the role of last mile connectivity.

The BJP circus is led by Narendra Modi. Modi hops from one city / circus to another roaring. He attacks the other main contender / lion (Rahul) of the Congress circus in each appearance. BJP’s circus is very high tech and attached with a lot of media blitz. The Congress circus after survival scare has got its confidence back. Their lion (Rahul) is also roaring, has brought in sister lioness Priyanka to bolster its prospects and draw more crowds compared to BJP circus. People bored with the same tricks of 15-year old BJP circus in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh opted for new circus of Congress in recently held competition. The Congress circus has many jokers / spokespersons who entertain voters and have been loyal to the lion family. The party though still lacks good ringmasters in key states. They have been disillusioned in most parts of country with the lion’s unwillingness to take a serious plunge. The surgical strike 2.0 has once again dented their confidence.

The regional, smaller circuses also boast of many lions. But they have limited influence, they think they can challenge lions of national level circuses, but the audience thinks otherwise. There is a continuous fight for who will be king among regional lions. People do come to see them for the sake of curiosity but have got bored over the years. They are fed up of these self-proclaimed lions in the end queuing up to national level circuses. The depleting sales (seats) under the growing popularity of BJP circus has forced state level circuses who have been competing for decades to come to the table. Due to existential threat from national level circuses, mainly BJP, some regional level circuses are forming alliances, like mahagathbandhan of SP-BSP in Uttar Pradesh. Some have formed alliance with BJP like JDU, Shiv Sena and AIADMK. Some are backing Congress and have jumped onto their ship like RLSP, JDS, DMK etc.

Aam Aadmi Party made its debut in state elections of Delhi 2013 just before central elections of 2014. It didn’t boast of lions, jokers or ringmasters. It offered audience a unique circus, audience as well as performers belonged to the same set of people. What tricks you want to see was determined through sms campaign. Aam aadmi by rotation got a chance to become a performer. The success in Delhi made the Aam Aadmi leader Kejriwal roar and put up himself for national contention (to become a lion). But over the years they copied other circuses and are following their footsteps. Kejriwal is AAP’s lion. He eliminated internal competition by throwing them out of his circus. The audience is now bored of their tricks. This circus also has gone the other regional circuses way almost begging for an alliance with the national circus Congress.

Elections have been like this in India for long. Protagonists of the circuses keep on changing. We have a lion (Modi) who has been roaring continuously for the past 5 years, people including his own party fear whether he will run out of steam before D-day. Lion and Lioness jodi of Congress is giving tough competition. The lion family in Congress has propped up “holy cows” in the past. But now the lion (Rahul) is confident of ‘mera time aayega’. AAP was trying to prop up a new concept of an “aam lion” but lions are not “aam aadmi”. They are special. If they appear “aam”, audience won’t worship them.

This leaves the audience (voter) totally confused. He goes in all the circuses, watches all tricks but doesn’t necessarily vote for the circus which amuses him the most. The popularity of BJP’s lion is declining and Congress’ lion is improving. However, Modi is still the most popular among lions by far. The voter would vote for a lion who understands the country, the issues faced by it, and has practical solutions for its problems. Interesting circus this time around….

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