Thursday, March 6, 2014

The 2014 Parliamentary Elections in India: A look at the Campaign and the trends

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

The Election Commission of India has announced the Poll Schedule and the upcoming 2014 Elections will be the longest and the most hard fought in Indian electoral history. Spread over a month, the 9 phases in which the Elections have been divided, are designed to move security forces around the country so that ;aw and order can be maintained. I expect this particular election to be violent as the Indian National Congress is facing the prospect of losing power and it is encouraging its storm troopers to disrupt the polls. Part of the strategy has been outsources to the AAM ADMI PARTY which has already started attacking BJP election offices and is threatening to  unleash unbridled violence as part of its campaign. Unfortunately, the rapid decline of the Congress  has made the AAP the only visible symbol of the social constituency which once supported the Congress at least in the urban pockets of northern India. The BJP and the Congress have attacked each other with guston and verve and of course, the Congress has used its courtiers to hurl the worst kind of abuses at the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate: Narendra Modi. Mani Shankar Iyer, a Cambridge educated factotum of the ruling dynasty mocked Modi by calling his a "chai wallah" and the Foreign Minister of India Salman Kurshid even used the word "impotent" to describe Modi, words that have outraged the Indian public. The rhetorical assault launched by the Congress Party is directly proportional to the slide in iys electoral fortunes. The BJP, on the other hand, has maintained studied silence and has not responded in kind.

The real reasons for the ease with which the NDA led by the BJP is hurtling towards victory are to be seen in the changing character of the Indian electorate. India is a young country in terms of its demography and the first time voters represent an aspirational  India which want better jobs, education, health and civic infrastructure. This group is not into the old style identity politics by which political parties played one caste against the other and cobbled up a majority. Modi has taken young India by storm as he connects successfully with the young by his vision of a vibrant India in which modern Industry and Infrastructure will usher in a better life syle and improve the living standards of the people. He has successfully demonstrated the efficacy of his model of development in Gujarat. Business confidence will certainly improve and much needed Foreign Investment will start flowing once the corruption infested Congress regime is unsaddled. Apart for the young voters and the issue of corruption, there are other issues that are playing out in the minds of the voter. There is a perception that India's standing among the major nations of the world has falled during the watch of the UPA II. The lack of respect for Indian concerns and the manner in whcih USA treated a senior diplomat, Devyani Khobragade, did not go down well in India. The electorate is angry that the dignity of an Indian woman, a diplomat and a representative of India was slighted is so egregious a manner. On the foreign policy front, Modi who attacked Pakistan for its barbarity in killing Indian soldiers and by drawing pointed attention to the frequent incursions into India by China, Modi has signaled that the image of a soft India will be contested. The Economy is in shambles and only Gujarat is showing double digit growth figures. The UPA regime tried to fudge poverty figures and derive propaganda by making it appear that its flagship schemes like the rural income schemes have made a difference to the lives of millions. The truth is that the schemes like the rest of the UPA was riddled with corruption and very little actually reached the people.

Political mismanagement has  also helped the NDA. The Congress for purely electoral  gain decided to divide the state of Andhra Pradesh and hoped that the formation of Telengana will ensure a substantial win in the Telengana region. Even here the electoral gain is not for the Congress but the local ally and the BJP. The unseemly politics over the release of the killers of Rajiv Gandhi has paid put the chances of a Congress revival in Tamil Nadu. Senior leaders like the discredited P Chidambaram have no where to go. Even in the 2009 General Elections, Chidmabaram was actually defeated in the Sivagangai parliamentary election but got himself declared elected by fraud and this time he will be defeated if he stands anywhere in Tamil Nadu.

The BJP is coasting to a target of around 230 to 249 seats at the moment. In Uttar Pradesh and Bihar which together contribute 120 seats the BJP is likely to win around 80 and set the stage for Narendra Modi;s appointment as Prime Minister of India. Both these politically crucial states are in the hands of regional satraps who have failed in the onerous task of governance. UP has seen nearly 250 riots during the past few months and the regime of the Samajwadi party has only given a thumbs up to law breakers known in local parlance as "goondas". Nitish Kumar broke his alliance with the BJP hoping to tie up with the Congress but that has fallen through and in the upcoming election he will bite the dust.

By the time Mid May 2014 arrives India will have a new government and the election of Narendra Modi looks certain.

1 comment:

Bahu virupaksha said...

I was right in my prediction that the Congress and its allies will resort to the worst kind of rhetoric in the course of these elections.