How both Modi and Rahul are likely to loose their 2014 battles

Good article by Jay Mazoomdar...

Nearly two-thirds of India, 349 of 543 constituencies, will have voted by Wednesday. Most poll surveys have so far been rather unkind to the regional players perhaps because we hate a fractured mandate. Making corrections for that instinct, it is possible that the BJP and the Congress may not cross the 200 and 100 mark, respectively. That would be in sync with the 2009 results when the two bagged a total of 322 seats.

If the Congress falls short of even 100 seats, Rahul Gandhi will have lost his battle to keep the Gandhi family as the sole power centre of the party or to stay relevant in politics to lead a comeback in the near future.

If Narendra Modi cannot bring home more than 200 seats, he will not be forming any ‘Modi sarkar'. It is one thing to be the undisputed leader of the BJP and its beholden allies, quite another to grapple with an ‘NDA sarkar' backed by J Jayalalithaa or Mamata Banerji.

Rahul Gandhi's late attempt to redeem himself by braving a second interview where he sounded almost coherent in Hindi is matched by the last-ditch offensive by his ailing mother and combative sister. But all that may not count for much.

In fact, much of what Rahul said in that interview and recent speeches made a lot of sense. Infrastructure and human resource development should go hand in hand. The poor do need a push (or “escape velocity” or plain subsidy) to overcome the inertia of poverty. Only more transparency can combat corruption. Primaries are indeed necessary to pick good candidates so that the voter is not shortchanged.

And Rahul would have many takers for these ideas were he an opposition leader fighting the Congress. But he is no khaas admi version of Arvind Kejriwal. His Congress, in which he enjoys decisive backroom control, has undermined all these ideas while in power. He cannot suddenly stand for all that the Congress has belied to demand a mandate for the same party.

Rahul's fundamental tragedy is to find himself in two wars simultaneously. His one battle has been within the party to seek organisational reform which alienated the old guard. If his radical ideas and promotion of the young brigade created a fissure, Sonia Gandhi's National Advisory Council and a certain Jairam Ramesh stood in the way of the growth hawks in the government.

On most occasions though, the UPA government eventually bent every rule to push for unbridled growth and alienated large sections of farmers and tribals. But the corporate India was not amused by the party's internal resistance to its interests and switched sides, believing a Modi sarkar would have no compunction delivering what it wants. Ironically, the faux ideological battle within the Congress sent out wrong signals to both poor and rich.

Rahul, however, has only himself and his coterie to blame for not assessing that he would not decisively win the battle within the party well in time before general elections. The result is a the poor performance card of a confused government and a divided leadership. A number of party heavyweights missing in poll action are waiting for a spectacular debacle to cut a much-defeated Rahul to size. In such a scenario, the Congress may even split if 10, Janpath does not cede control.

Narendra Modi, on the other hand, is riding high on his presidential-style campaign. His biggest achievement so far is to project an air of inevitability about his becoming prime minister. This election is not for a BJP or an NDA but a Modi sarkar where every vote cast for the alliance reaches him directly and even parties opposed to the BJP can justify backing him.

Yet, Modi and his party know that the numbers are not quite adding up. Therefore, in the last few weeks, the thrust of their campaign has been on a decisive mandate. Some are playing the stability card. Others are warning against policy paralyses. Clearly, Modi cannot be the CEO-like all-deciding super-PM if his government hinges on AIADMK or TMC support and the whims of their mercurial leaders.

That limits the voter's choices. Barring the corruption front where the BJP is less guilty if only for the lack of comparable opportunity, and the facile secular-communal debate, there is little to choose from between Rahul's Congress and Modi's BJP. For all the rhetoric, no NDA government will dare scrap the UPA's rather unimaginative subsidy schemes. And it is only expected to follow India Inc's growth brief more single-mindedly and unabashedly than the UPA did.

Unless, of course, a Modi sarkar gets encumbered by unreasonable allies who can be as big a roadblock to reforms as the NAC was, albeit for very different reasons. It is fashionable to slam these parties and their so-called short-sighted political compulsions for resisting reforms. We can continue to hard-sell the benefits of mega growth but cannot discount in a democracy those who still refuse in buy in.

However regressive we find their politics, these parties have been winning enough seats to deny both the Congress and the BJP anything close to a majority for a long time. While it may upset the growth story if Modi needs more than likeminded or servile allies, a highly fractured mandate will also show that most Indians perhaps wish to see certain policies paralysed.

In such a scenario, will Modi stick around for the next poll within a couple of years hoping the voter gets more decisive? Or will he risk his cult by backing himself to tame the feistiest of allies? more  

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Vinod Chawla
On 22 Apr 2014 12:38, "Vijaya Nair" <> wrote:

> more  
Though I am not agreeing with some your points, your presentation and
analysis is superb and excellent

On Tue, Apr 22, 2014 at 12:40 PM, Vijaya Nair

> more  
Any thing can happen in results. Today Opinon Poll give voters taste for
AAP defeating BJP at Varansi. Hard works alway pay handsomely. We all have
good wishes for AAP.

MSP-SMC Frenchise, Wazirpur, Delhi
General Insurance & Investment advisor

On Tue, Apr 22, 2014 at 12:45 PM, Vijaya Nair

> more  
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