Abki Baar 400 Paar???

Ever since Narendra Modi declared that BJP will win 370 seats and NDA will cross 400 seats this time in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, “400 Paar” is now on everyone’s lips. Can BJP really win 370 seats, up from 303 in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls? Is 400 paar’able by the NDA in its current avatar, up from 353 in May 2019?

Even the most loyal supporters of BJP and Modi feel that it is only a war cry to motivate the cadre and not necessarily a feasible proposition. For the BJP to win an additional 63 seats on its own is not easy, having almost maxed out in India’s North, North East, and West regions in 2019. Popular mainstream media commentary also resonates with this. Even India Today – C-Voter’s Mood Of The India survey doesn’t give anything close to 400 for the NDA.

I have a different view. Looking at the situation in India presently, I feel that NDA has a good chance for 400 paar.

For BJP, it doesn’t have much scope to increase its tally in states like Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Delhi and Goa, where it swept completely or just lost 1 or 2 seats.

Therefore, it is pretty evident that for the BJP to win an additional 67 seats in 2024 from the 2019 tally, it has to

  1. Increase its tally in states where it did well. However, there is still room for growth in places like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Odisha, Telangana, and Assam. Just a cursory look will tell you that the party can increase its tally by 15 seats from states like UP, Odissa, Telangana, and Assam, thanks to a pro-incumbency wave in these states. There could be shift in number of seats but in total the BJP is poised to increase its tally in this group.
  2. Increase its tally in states like Maharashtra, Bihar, NE, and J&K, where it has/will have strong allies. BJP will contest more seats than in 2019 and aim to increase its tally. There is a scope to increase at least 10 seats here.

In all the above states, the BJP already has a strong presence and is riding the Modi wave alone or with its allies. Without a coherent opposition, it is logical to assume that the BJP has a very good chance to increase its tally.

3. Win handsomely in states where BJP fared poorly in 2019 with “0” seats or a handful of seats. States like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab come into this category. In my opinion, these states are what will give the BJP the much-needed push towards 370.

Most expert commentators are of the opinion that while BJP will undoubtedly gain significant vote share on its own in states like Tamil Nadu and Kerala, it still would not win seats beyond a handful. Therefore, these states will come in the way of BJP’s dream of 370 and 400 paar. Here’s where I differ, and I am of the view that states like TN, with 39 Lok Sabha seats, AP, with 25 seats and Kerala, with 20 seats (84 seats in total), are going to give 40 + seats to BJP in 2024.

How am I saying this?

  1. In states like TN, Kerala and AP, the BJP has been working on the ground for more than five years now to build local leadership and mobilise cadres. This is still a work in progress. In May last year, when I was on a road trip from Coimbatore across Kerala to Trivandrum, I saw for the first time a palpable grassroots presence of the BJP in Kerala, which otherwise was a Left bastion. In Tamil Nadu, the scene is the same. BaJaPa is no longer seen as a distant North India party.
  2. Modi’s popularity is relatively high in these states, and there is a realisation in states like TN and Kerala that Modi has not done anything to harm the state even though BJP has never ruled the state.
  3. Over and above this, Modi has been strategically wooing and wowing states like Tamil Nadu and Kerala repeatedly with symbolic overtures from time to time.
  4. Additionally, in TN, the state BJP President Annamalai has been highly active on the ground and not just on social media to be the only voice of opposition to the ruling DMK since 2019.
  5. Above all this, the most important reason is this. Ordinary people in states like TN, Andhra and Kerala realise that BJP is sure to win in the 2024 elections. Therefore, if they vote for the opposition as they did in 2014 or 2019, for the 3rd term in a row, their states will not have MPs or Ministers from the ruling party. Both in 2014 and 2019, there was a feeling that a coalition government could emerge post-polls, and therefore, regional parties like the ADMK, DMK, Left and YSRCP could become kingmakers in such an arrangement if they had more MPs on their side. But in 2024, that possibility doesn’t seem to exist as Modi is all set to return for a third term even if parties like the DMK and the Left sweep their respective states. Therefore, there is a realisation, and it is a big realisation that at least for the Lok Sabha polls, it is better to back the winning horse, Modi, in this case.

Though the Left was popular in the 2019 Lok Sabha in Kerala, Congress-led UDF got more seats for the same reason. People backed the Congress, hoping that the state MPs would have a role to play at the Centre. The day after the 2019 election results were out, I was out for a morning walk in a neighbourhood park in Coimbatore. A group of senior citizens were animatedly discussing about the poll results. I could feel a sense of despondency when one gentleman claimed that the state’s votes had gone waste as their MPs, being from the opposition front, would have no role to play at the Centre. This conversation stayed with me since. I feel that unless a voter has an inherent problem with Modi, she would not like to waste her vote when it is obvious that Modi is set to return as the PM in any case.

Therefore, unlike pundits who keep saying that BJP will not increase its seat tally in 2024 in these nascent states, I believe they are in for a huge surprise in May 2024 when the results come. This phenomenon played out for the BJP in 2019 in states like WB and Orissa, and we are in for a repeat of that in states like TN, Kerala, and even WB. Once there is a clear wave in favour of a leader across the country, then it usually results in huge landslide win across regions.

The North-South divide theory, which commentators keep harping upon to show how voters vote differently, will be buried once and for all after the poll results.

Punjab is one state where this may not play out as there is a visible Anti–Modi/BJP sentiment. Otherwise, in all other states where such negative sentiment towards Modi doesn’t exist, a sweep by BJP is possible. The only limiting factor for the BJP in states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Andhra Pradesh is to field credible candidates who can profess familiarity with voters locally and kindle association with the party and its symbol.

Finally, beyond all pollsters and forecasters, we must never discount the native wisdom of ground-level politicians. We see many of them jumping, sinking ships and queuing to shift to BJP. That itself is a clear enough sign that “Abki Baar 400 Paar” for NDA.

You would notice that I started this piece with a question mark but am ending it with a clear statement.

Pic Credit: Janrapat.com

0 thoughts on “Abki Baar 400 Paar???”

  1. I believe you are on right track in your analysis Anand!
    There is a strong anti-incumbency wave in TN which the BJP.will capitalise

  2. Excellent argument and equally convincing..It suddenly looks like a very practical approach in voting for a party which will make u feel part of the Govt in the Centre..And look at the beeline of opposition leaders jumping ship..and being welcomed whole heartedly by NaMo , Nadda and AS….NDA shud cross the 400 Barrier at this rate..Would be interesting to see the final results..Gud one RaSa!

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