By Nitya Chakraborty
The people have finally spoken through their ballots in the first three phases of the Lok Sabha elections covering 302 seats up to now. This is more than fifty five percent of the total 543 seats and the indications from the polling covering all the states suggest that the BJP has been losing in its strongholds and this loss will be difficult to be made up in the next four phases of the poll. The political analysts who have closely followed the trend in polling have observed that the BJP has fared badly in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in their strongholds and despite all talk of the saffrons against gathbandhan in UP and Bihar, the alliance has done extremely well as of now.
However for the Congress, the feedback from Karnataka is not good. The Congress-JD(S) combination has not been able to give a good fight to the BJP in the first three phases and it is a warning to the alliance to prepare more aggressively to meet the BJP onslaught in the remaining seats in Karnataka in the next phases. In the entire South, BJP has been a big flop till now in terms of seats, excepting Karnataka where the squabbles in both the Congress and the JD(S) have not helped the alliance to the extent they expected.BJP is not getting any seat in Kerala despite all the hype over Sabarimala. The seats will be shared by the UDF and the LDF. BJP has little hopes in other southern states also including Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
But the saffrons are going to get their biggest setback in UP and Bihar and this has been followed in Chhattisgarh where polling was held for seven seats in the third phase. Congress is expected to repeat its assembly performance in the Lok Sabha poll and the trends of April 23 polling indicated a sweep by the Congress as against the BJP. However what was most surprising, according to the poll analysts, was the reports from Bihar where polling was held for five constituencies. Trends showed that in all five, the alliance of Congress-RJD had an edge. If this can be repeated in the remaining phase of the polls in Bihar, the NDA’s hopes of a comeback, will be dashed and Nitish Kumar will be losing all his political clout.
In the next phase on April 29, Begusarai from where CPI candidate Kanhaiya Kumar is fighting, has emerged as the symbol of a new political agenda. The way KK is getting support from all sections of the people irrespective of the political spectrum is phenomenal and all right thinking persons who feel for the emergence of a non-BJP government, feel that even at this fag end of the campaign, there can be some tactical understanding between the RJD and the CPI in favour of Kanhaiya Kumar. As the CPI and the CPI(M ) leaders have been explaining that there was no reason for not including the CPI and the CPI(M) within the alliance since the Left has for long been collaborating with the RJD in fighting the BJP in Bihar. Even at this stage, Congress president can put some pressure on Tejaswi Yadav to facilitate the election of the CPI candidate by extending support. It is of big importance to defeat the highly communal BJP candidate Giriraj Singh. At this moment, KK is the only opposition candidate who can defeat him.
As regards Western India, there is bad news for the BJP. In Maharashtra, polling was held for 14 seats in third phase. In 2014 elections, the BJP-Shiv Sena combination got 10 out of 14 while the Congress NCP alliance got 4. This time trends indicate that the BJP will be losing few seats and the UPA tally may go up to eight. If this trend continues in the next phases in Maharashtra, that will dash all plans of BJP. In fact the top leadership of BJP is pinning hopes on maintaining their numbers in Maharashtra and Gujarat but it will be a setback in both the states. In Gujarat, in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP made a clean sweep by getting all 26 seats. This time, the party leadership was hoping to get a minimum of 24 seats, but the trends show that the Congress may get seven to eight seats. Both the states will give a jolt to the BJP coming to power after May 23.
As polling trends suggest that this fall in BJP seats might continue in the next phases also as a part of overall trend and in that case, the political scenario after May 23 will be like the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. Both the NDA and the UPA will be around 200 seats each and the non-BJP non Congress parties will be having around 140 seats. Congress might get a 2004 like situation to form the Government since most of the regional parties may not support BJP to form the government.
But there is a rider. If the BJP on its own gets more than 180 seats and the NDA emerges as the largest group surpassing the UPA, the BJP will make all efforts to form the Government by enticing the fence sitters and make use of its massive financial and other resources. In 2004, the Left had 61 seats and the Left Front took no time after the results were out in extending support to the Sonia Gandhi led Congress which had 145 seats. The Left will be a much weaker force this time and Trinamool led by Mamata and SP-BSP combination will play an important role. In any case, the regional parties, especially Trinamool Congress which is expected to emerge as the third largest party in the new Lok Sabha, will be a major player after May 23 in navigating the course of developments. (IPA Service)