The huge success of the opposition unity rally organized by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata, visited by leaders of more than 20 regional and national parties, has left the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) cadre demoralized.
The party’s workers are frequently growing skeptical about the bullying of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah.
Some leaders in Chhattisgarh and party MLAs and aiming candidates in Maharashtra show that they are not certain about the party’s showing in May.
Sentiment in BJP camp
There are worry and panic among the BJP’s leadership on the ground. The party leaders who were positive that the Congress and its president Rahul Gandhi cannot rise from the ashes of the 2014 collapse are now worried about their own poll prospects.
Will Shiv Sena break away and what will be the impact on our party if they do?”
Just about two years ago, the same leaders were certain about the BJP winning every election, about Narendra Modi’s charisma, Amit Shah’s fabulous plans, the RSS’s network, the party’s famed ‘panna pramukhs’ at the booth level, and its funding plans.
Now their fear is a result of a terror that the BJP’s tally could fall below 200, or even below 160 in the Lok Sabha.
In such a position, will Narendra Modi be the PM, they ask. Can that Mr. X build a new NDA and which parties will come with the BJP?
Most of them hold that the so-called 10% reservation for the ‘weaker’ upper castes
and the party’s stand on triple talaq has not managed to impress people much.
Nevertheless, there is a widely-held view that the anti-Muslim sentiment is still strong and the polarisation of voters can be achieved, at least in north India.
There is also satisfaction among some BJP ticket seekers that the proposed ‘mahagatbandhan’ has missed to take off formally and there is no ‘consensus candidate’ for the PM’s job and that Modi settles ‘numero uno’.
In the deficiency of a challenger, Modi, they believe, will swing the electorate in his favor.
The opponent camp too is worried and uncertain but the shift in the mood is deeper in the BJP cadre, which was overoptimistic even a year ago.
It has reached the point where meditation by political experts begins.
Here are some of the projected scenarios:
1. The BJP will be the exclusive largest party and the President will be obliged to call Narendra Modi to compose the government. Once he is called, he can ‘deal’ with new or old partners to take the figure to 275+ seats. After all Atal Bihari Vajpayee too had 182 seats, both in 1998 and 1999, and he could work out the National Democratic Alliance. If Vajpayee can, Modi surely will!
He can manage to win the confidence vote and then the alliance will be streamlined in the next 6 months.
2. The 2nd scenario is, the BJP will be made to change the leadership because the electorate would not repose full faith in Modi. So different names like Nitin Gadkari, Rajnath Singh are pitched. But there appears no confidence among the cadres that these leaders could win friends.
3. In the absence of a working majority in the Lok Sabha, the President will be forced to call on the 2nd largest combine from the opposition to try and form the government. Then, there would be a scramble for power.
Names of several possible candidates, from Mamata Banerjee to Mayawati to Sharad Pawar to the non-controversial Naveen Patnaik to Chandrababu Naidu are discussed, but with little enthusiasm.
4. All of them feel that the Congress’s performance will increase considerably, but it won’t be adequate to demand the top post. In any case, there are no bright chances for Rahul Gandhi to emerge as a unison leader because all these parties have a legacy of anti-Congressism.
5. There is a peculiar feeling that Pranab Mukherjee or even Manmohan Singh will be drawn in, as they seem to have the least denials. Even the RSS would not mind Pranab Mukherjee, they argue.
6. Another assessment of very few, but significant leaders, is that all consideration is worthless because Modi will win close to 250 seats and then the question of any challenge to him or to the BJP will stop to exist.
Modi supporters are still confident that he is here to stay till 2024 and his haters are sure he will be cut to size by the electorate.
There is neither an agreement among astrologers on how stars will align nor among political commentators and pollsters on what voters feel and what they will do once they face the EVM.