When in power, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has never led a minority government. Even as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, he led a majority government without having fought a single election in the state.
Today, if BJP general secretary Ram Madhav's prediction holds any truth, Modi might have a new experience in store for him.
In an interview to Bloomberg on Saturday, Madhav admitted that the BJP may have to stitch up alliances after the election as the party will fall short of winning an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha. With this, he is the first BJP leader to come even remotely close to acknowledging that the saffron unit may lose some power in the 2019 polls.
"If we get 271 seats on our own, we will be very happy," Madhav said in the interview. "With NDA, we will have a comfortable majority."
The figure is the halfway mark in the Lok Sabha, but much lower than the BJP's current tally of 282 in the Lower House.
Madhav also acknowledged that the BJP is facing "expected losses in the North Indian states it swept in 2014", but that the party will make up for these "with new gains in India's remote northeast, as well as in the eastern states of West Bengal and Odisha".
"As politicians, we must remember that what we achieved last time, we may not repeat because of anti-incumbency," the BJP general secretary said.
Golden words from a politician that are rarely accepted.
Significantly, Madhav's statements are a far cry from BJP chief Amit Shah and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's claims that the party will fare even better in the election this year.
Shah exuded confidence when he said the BJP will win the 2019 general election "with a much bigger majority" than it did in 2014. Jaitley's confidence, however, appears to be more in the belief that the so-called 'Mahagathbandhan' will fail to hold.
"What was promised to be 'Mahagathbandhan' is turning out to be a gathbandhan of several conflicting gathbandhans. It is a self-destructive coalition of rivals," Jaitley had said.
However, this very Opposition that Jaitley is sure will fall apart is bound to use the statement by one of the BJP's most senior leaders as fodder for campaigning in the last two weeks of the election season. Opposition parties could put a spin to Madhav's words to showcase that the BJP had admitted defeat and was preparing itself for losses.
In fact, Sanjay Raut, a leader of BJP ally Shiv Sena, also accepted that Madhav's statement "rings true" and this was what he "currently sensed in the country".
"The National Democratic Alliance will form the government with the BJP as the single-largest party, but it will be somewhat difficult for the BJP to win 280-plus votes," Raut told NDTV.
If we go by ground reports and the results of the recent Assembly elections, the BJP will most likely not enjoy holding a clear majority in the Lok Sabha after the general election. Turning to regional allies and ceding some of its seemingly ever-expanding power to them may be the only choice the party will be left with.
Madhav's statement could provide impetus to the waning drive of the Opposition parties to come together to form an anti-BJP front. It would be safe to assume that if the Opposition remains together, the BJP will find it hard to hold on to the number of seats it bagged in the 2014 Lok Sabha election.
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Updated Date: May 07, 2019 16:29:58 IST