Verdict 2011: Allies or Alone

Much of the narrative that I have read post these Assembly elections is that the national parties (Congress and BJP) need to factor in coalition politics as the way forward since none of them are strong across the country. The Lok Sabha elections will be but an aggregation of the state electoral math – as has been the case in the past few elections. In fact, the last time a single party got a majority on its own was the Congress in 1984 led by Rajiv Gandhi after Indira Gandhi’s assassination.

I have a different take on this. I think various factors are coming together to create the foundation of a possible wave election in 2014. For one, look at the 90% hit rates that have happened in places in Bihar, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu. (Assam came quite close.) The same concerns and issues have resonated across a state. I believe that something similar can happen nationally in 2014.

I will analyse the situation from BJP’s perspective. Currently, it has 116 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha. (The Congress has 206, and with its alliance partners about 273.) BJP cannot win by trying to ape the Congress. It has to tread a different, bold path – one that is counter-intuitive to what the commentators are saying.

The refrain seems to be that the BJP can only win about 150-175 seats on its own – the best performance came in 1998 and 1999 with 182 seats. It doesn’t have a presence in states with 150+ seats (TN, WB, Kerala, Andhra, North-East) and therefore needs allies, and therefore a leader that is acceptable to the allies. In other words, the BJP should opt for a leader who can maximise allies.

This approach is plain wrong.

Tomorrow: The BJP’s Path to 2014

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.