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Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Opposition leaders expect win in 50-60 seats after first phase

Assessment of Congress poll managers and their I.N.D.I.A. partners after Friday’s first phase voting was that they have at least retained the numbers and that the BJP has not gained.
hemin Joy
Last Updated : 21 April 2024, 23:33 IST
Last Updated : 21 April 2024, 23:33 IST

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New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has claimed that the first phase of the Lok Sabha polls has gone the BJP way but the Congress believes that it is chipping away BJP’s 2019 gains in northern India in a way that can harm the saffron party’s prospects for a record third term.

Assessment of Congress poll managers and their I.N.D.I.A. partners after Friday’s first phase voting was that they have at least retained the numbers and that the BJP has not gained ground. Opposition leaders expect that they will win 50-60 out of 102 seats that went to polls.

After watching the BJP campaign, especially by Modi, sources said the Congress leadership is of the assessment that the rhetoric around Ram temple has not taken off. Secondly, they also believe the caste consolidation against BJP like those of Rajputs and Jats is working in favour of the Congress.

Thirdly, sources said, the BJP is on the “backfoot” on the farmers' front while there is also a sentiment against them among the poor and Dalits. The ‘pro-poor’ tilt by Rahul Gandhi as well as strictly restricting to “issue-based” campaign has worked for Congress, they believe.

Congress managers also point to Modi being “forced to” comment that even Ambedkar cannot change the Constitution though he had “remained silent” when BJP leaders spoke about it earlier.

“This issue had a resonance among Dalits. The change in Modi’s tone is the direct impact of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge’s theme that this is the last election to save the Constitution,” a senior leader told DH.

After the party’s campaign completed three weeks, Congress sources said the assessment is positive in Rajasthan, Haryana, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. Poll managers do not vouch for a spectacular victory but they claim the party is making a serious dent on the BJP in states where it has electorally wiped out rivals.

“We will see a scintillating performance by Congress in Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Karnataka where we might end up with more seats than the BJP. The Modi factor is fading and in many seats non-existent, and the election has turned local and state-wise with issues of Congress guarantees, unemployment, price rise, saving the constitution, and caste census dominating voting patterns,” Congress leader Y B Srivatsa told DH.

Sources said in Rajasthan where it drew a blank in the last two polls, the Congress and its allies, RLP and CPI(M), are giving a “good fight” in a dozen seats, especially in the Marwar region, and believe it could overall win 5-7 seats, riding on the anger of farmers and Jats. Congress also perceives a resentment against “weak” Chief Minister Bhajan Lal Sharma within and outside the saffron fold and that is working in its favour.

Banaskantha and Anand are two seats where the Congress is putting its weight behind in Gujarat, to reopen its accounts which had gone blank in the last two polls.

While the party is not expecting a miracle in Uttarakhand where it has no MPs, sources said the trend from western Uttar Pradesh has given them some confidence. For the I.N.D.I.A., they said, even holding on to 2019 numbers is “positive”.

In Madhya Pradesh, the Congress is hoping on the big names – Nakul Nath in Chhindwara and Digvijaya Singh in Rajgarh – to win seats but they accept that the fight is only in “three-four seats”. In Chhattisgarh, the party is in a fight for 3-5 seats.

In Bihar and Maharashtra too, where the I.N.D.I.A. bloc is fighting, sources said the alliance partners have an upper hand and could win 20-25 seats each. In Jharkhand, sources said Hemant Soren’s arrest has come as a shot in the arm with significant shifts in five tribal seats.

In Haryana where it lost all ten seats last time, Congress is battling factionalism and is hoping for half of the seats. However, Bhupinder Hooda detractors are pegging the number at three.

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Published 21 April 2024, 23:33 IST

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