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….