1. Will Narendra Modi opt for early general election?

Will Narendra Modi opt for early general election?

The synchronisation of the next general election with the assembly polls of 2018 to set a pattern may not be the only reason why the Narendra Modi government is said to be considering bringing forward the 2019 general election by a year.

By: | Updated: August 19, 2017 12:12 PM
General Election, Assembly polls 2018, Narendra Modi, BJP, West Bengal Municipal polls, Karnataka, Tripura, Achhe Din, Amulya Ganguli India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Reuters)

The synchronisation of the next general election with the assembly polls of 2018 to set a pattern may not be the only reason why the Narendra Modi government is said to be considering bringing forward the 2019 general election by a year. While the need to evolve a system where the major elections are held simultaneously has been talked about for some time, the present conjecture relates mainly to the calculations about the prospects of the ruling party at the Centre. The belief seemingly is that it will be better for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to cash in on whatever gains it has made in the last three-and-a-half-years rather than wait for another 20 months or so when its inadequacies on the employment front and in relieving the distress of farmers may become more apparent. It will serve the party better, therefore, to advance the dates of the general election when the Modi magic hasn’t quite faded as a recent opinion poll has shown and the opposition continues to be in disarray. Although the government cannot but derive considerable satisfaction from the opposition’s discomfiture, it cannot be unaware of the fact that it still has pockets of influence as is evident from the marginal improvement in the Congress’s position in the recent Madhya Pradesh local elections and the Trinamool Congress’s sweeping victories in the West Bengal municipal polls.

The BJP also knows that it has to guard against the anti-incumbency factor affecting the party’s prospects in the assembly elections in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Gujarat next year. Even if it wins, a loss of seats compared to the previous elections can be disheartening on the eve of the general election if it is held in 2019. It will also be demoralising for the BJP if the Congress wins in Karnataka and the CPI-M in Tripura. Holding the general election earlier will enable the BJP to avoid such uncomfortable possibilities. What the BJP will have to remember is that people often vote against the ruling party because of dissatisfaction with its performance even if the opponent is weak. This happened in Goa and Manipur, where the Congress was the first party before it lost this position because of the BJP’s success in weaning away a number of legislators. However, such defections could not hide the fact that there was dissatisfaction with the BJP. The same disenchantment has also been voiced by a fairly wide section of the people in recent weeks as can be seen from the protest letters written to the Prime Minister by retired bureaucrats and army veterans and the processions taken out by scientists about the encouragement of obscurantist practices by the ruling dispensation.

These grievances have nothing to do with unemployment and farmers’ distress which are undoubtedly the two most serious problems faced by the government. Instead, these are the grouses of the average middle-class householders who have been feeling uneasy about the growing climate of intolerance although it probably does not affect them in a personal capacity. Even then, the depredations of the gau rakshaks, along with the possibility of the police entering private homes to check whether anyone is eating beef, as the Maharashtra government wants to do, the competitive jingoism in TV channels, the foul language used by the BJP’s supporters against the party’s opponents in the social media, the distortion of history, including the blanking out of Jawaharal Nehru’s name from the speeches of high dignitaries, are some of the trends which can cause unease among the common people. No one can predict the cumulative effect of these feelings over the next two years, along with the slowing down of the economy which is a prime cause of the unemployment problem. Although early general elections can enable the government to make hay while the sun is still shining, albeit faintly, it is only a temporary palliative. As of now, a more longstanding solution of the current ills is not visible. As a result, the BJP has to continue to depend on the faith which the average person still places in the Prime Minister’s ability to tide over the difficult situations through hard work.

The government is also fortunate that it hasn’t had to face the kind of corruption charges which brought down its predecessor and still hobbles many of the opposition parties. At the same time, it is obvious that the expectations of rapid economic advancement which are behind Modi’s success have been largely belied. No wonder the “achhey din” phrase is not heard any more.
The BJP’s other problem is its total dependence on Modi, which is not unlike what it was in the Congress in Indira Gandhi’s heyday. It is a scenario which is not politically healthy for a party, as can be seen from the Congress’s present plight when it is pathetically dependent on the dynasty despite its fading charisma. The BJP, on its part, has to capitalise on Modi’s popularity as long as it brings in the votes. Hence, the need for the general election next year.

(Amulya Ganguli is a political analyst. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached at amulyaganguli@gmail.com)

  1. S
    Sadasivan
    Aug 19, 2017 at 2:32 pm
    People are also afraid that GM Mustard is coming.NDA and Shri Modi Ji are seen as pro-GMO.This also may backfire,in an early or pre-poned Election.Be in Power as long as possible,Squeeze the advantage.That is the way for Victory,Shri Modi Ji,PM Sir Ji!
    Reply
    1. S
      Sadasivan
      Aug 19, 2017 at 2:24 pm
      BJP needs to make amends for many tough policies,affecting the poor.Subsidy,GST,forced Aadhaar,demonetization,Suspected Misuse of media and misinformation,by repetedly DEFENDING policies in the Meia by NDA Politicians,,,Man Ki Baat without any Press meet,etc are seen as Dictatorial.People do not want to be driven about always,but want to live in peace,G 20 or no G 20.IMF or no IMF.USA or no USA. BJP/NDA is mainly seen as a "Stock market party of the Wall Street Bankers".If it makes haste,without proper squeezing of the advantage,by making amends for the items mentioned above and by being in Power as long as possible,,Atal Ji 2 seems probable and possible. I would advice BJP/NDA to delay as long as possible,as it is extremely unpopular now.
      Reply
      1. S
        Sadasivan
        Aug 19, 2017 at 2:15 pm
        Shri Modi Ji should not do an Atal Ji.Actually BJP is very very unpopular now.Throughout the nation ,there are protests.The challenges are many.,due FORCED IMPOSITION of polices and there is a feeling that Democratic India is now a mere Oligarchic puppet, of the West. Though the JD(U) has joined NDA,BJP will be defeated as its policies are very unpopular,due to pressure from the USA,G 20,IMF etc..Subsidy removal,attack on Gold,Forced Aadhaar,hasty GST,catching small fry for Blackmoney but leaving the Big Fish abroad intact,ect are seen as very very unpopular,pro-Oligarchic and following th diktat of Foreign forces Demonetization people were forced to move about highly tensed up,to get their own money.There aslo,are some doubts and suspicions regarding demonetization. BJPs Psychological ploy ,of thosevoting for State MLAs,by repe ion may vote for it,at the Centre may fail, Shri Modi Ji should not do an Atal Ji,Gain the advantage by slowly creeping creeping.Time is of essence
        Reply

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