Almost every poll conducted by any person or agency, in person or virtually, reports a pretty overwhelming majority for the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) in the coming 2014 elections. Most report over 200 seats in the BJP kitty. Modi as Prime Minister is allegedly a dear wish of millions of Indians. Yet, the BJP is skating on thin ice as far as forming the next government is concerned; the Congress may still end up at the Center. This statement is probably going to get a lot of booing down and maybe even ridicule – but hear out the argument.
There are 543 seats in the Lok Sabha. To form the government in the Centre, a party needs approximately half or about 273 seats.
Coalition governments are here to stay in India.
There are three major coalition alliances in India: the BJP-led NDA (National Democratic Alliance); the Congress-led UPA (United Progressive Alliance) and the newly formed Third Front or United National Progressive Alliance.
The BJP-led NDA lost some of its associates (notably, JDU in Bihar and Biju Janta Dal in Odisha).
Congress and BJP have some traditional strongholds which don’t swerve much.
If BJP and its still-consistent allies like Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and Akali Dal in Punjab do not garner 273 seats (highly likely), they are going to need support from other parties to form the government.
AAP is likely to eat into potential BJP votes. Arguing that there is a percentage of anti-Congress vote, that percentage of this anti-Congress vote which was so far showing up in the BJP faction (in the random polls and studies) has been divided now.
If push comes to shove, the Third Front (which includes powerful vote getters like Jayalalitha’s AIADMK in Tamilnadu, the Communists in Kerala, Mayawati’s BSP in Uttar Pradesh etc.) are most likely to give support from the outside to Congress purportedly for secularism but probably for handsome exchange.
Mamata Banerjee started her political career in Congress and was with that party for many long years. The possibility of Trinamool Congress veering towards the Indian National Congress is fairly high.
Given all these facts, the BJP is on pretty shaky ground as far as forming the government is concerned. Unless it forms alliances with strong parties or manages to change the trend of coalition to actually earn enough seats singly, BJP may actually be prevented from being able place Modi on the Prime Minister’s chair even after the 2014 elections.
Looks like India is heading towards an extremely ironical situation once the ballot is cast. If all the polls and studies are right, BJP will emerge as the single largest party in the country. And yet the mechanisms may work such that Congress (which is in a low on popularity) may actually end up forming the government – once again. This is not good news – as a joke on the social media said: If Congress comes back to power for one more term, even Google will not be able to find India on the map!
By Sujata Garimella