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Lok Sabha polls: 'Modi wave' continues to be a reality; absence of PM face hurts Opposition's chances

Several political experts presently argue that there is no 'Modi wave' in the ongoing election. The irony is that these experts had missed the Modi wave in 2014 too. It was only after the results that they accepted that such a wave existed.

However, if a wave election wave is defined as a vote being cast in the name of Modi as the prime ministerial candidate, it appears that a wave has started to form.

To understand this, one has to listen to the voices of voters, rather than the cacophony of campaigning. Some political analysts argue that this is not a national election, but a sum of state-level contests. This myopia emerges from focusing only on the narratives of political parties. Analogically, if a consumer wants to buy a car will you determine which car he buys based on car advertising or on understanding his decision matrix?   

The fact is that either the BJP or its allies have a presence in almost every state. A large number of Opposition leaders are speaking about fighting against Modi — be it Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav, Chandrababu Naidu or Ajit Singh. The Congress president also punctuates his speeches with attacks on Modi. While voters keep hearing Modi's name in the Opposition's campaign, they do not get an answer to the question — if not Modi, then who? The car analogy again; one campaign says buy the car branded PM but the other only asks that you don't without offering another brand of car. The alternative is missing.

 Lok Sabha polls: Modi wave continues to be a reality; absence of PM face hurts Oppositions chances

File images of Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi. AFP/Reuters

For instance, Mayawati has exhorted voters to vote for the BSP so that Modi does not become the prime minister. However, she has not stated as to who from the BSP will become the prime minister. Thus, voters have to choose between a prime ministerial candidate and a nebulous notional alliance.

The Congress' inability to reach a seat-sharing arrangement with the SP-BSP combine is confusing even voters likely to vote on caste and community lines.  For instance, in Saharanpur, the Congress has put up Imran Masood against Haji Fazlur Rehman of the BSP, and the two candidates are likely to eat into each other's vote share.

In several states which went to polls in the first phase, voter turnout was lower than that in 2014. This may mean that winning margins will shrink, and they will shrink more in seats where there is a triangular fight.

Therefore, every single vote will count. A strong Congress candidate in Uttar Pradesh will eat into the SP or BSP's votes, and this may give the edge to the BJP. The 'mahagathbandhan' may not be able to consolidate votes in crucial states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. On the other hand, the NDA has stitched a strong alliance, and arrived at a seat-sharing arrangement. In Bihar, it even gave five of its seats to its alliance partner, as it feels that the latter party has a better chance.

These three factors in the Opposition camp — the lack of a clear prime ministerial candidate, the lack of consolidation of votes, and the view of Modi as a common enemy — may contribute to a wave which will enable Modi. All waves start in small ripples and remain undetected initially, till they rise to their crescendo. Good political leaders intuitively understand this; they are able to read the crowd's mind, and influence it.

Congress' proposed NYAY scheme will have an impact only if the poor believe that they will actually get this money. Voters will need trust the Congress on delivering such a huge give away. And trust is something which the UPA has lost; it's unlikely to recover this in the next 45 days. NYAY will also drive away middle-class urban voters, as the scheme, which will cost Rs 3,60,000, will mean additional taxes for them.

The wave in favour of the NDA will be further strengthened if Nirav Modi or Vijay Mallya is brought back during the election phase.

Your guide to the latest election news, analysis, commentary, live updates and schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on firstpost.com/elections. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram or like our Facebook page for updates from all 543 constituencies for the upcoming general elections.

Updated Date: Apr 14, 2019 10:56:01 IST

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