‘BJP may be restricted to 200 seats’

Ajay Bose

Ajay Bose, a political analyst and author of BSP chief Mayawati's biography, has a keen eye on Indian politics. As the Lok Sabha elections come to a close, he spoke to DH's Shemin Joy on the emerging political situation in the country.

Six phases of polling is over and the seventh and final one is on Sunday. We saw intense campaigning during this period. How is the political scenario evolving?

It looks like the BJP will get significantly less seats in Uttar Pradesh and probably lose a certain number of seats what it got in 2014 Lok Sabha elections in other states. These states includes Maharashtra, Bihar, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. In these states, they will lose some seats. Altogether it would be quite a few. Adding this to significant loss in UP, BJP may be brought down near to 200 seats.

So you mean to say that there will be losses for BJP in Hindi heartland states other than UP. Is that correct?

Yes, because they did so well in these states in 2014. They virtually got all the seats, they got 90 to 100% seats in these states. Everywhere, they will be coming down a bit. Even if they lose 10% or 20% or 30% seats, all these will add together to quite a number.

In such a scenario, do you foresee a situation where BJP is not coming to power and may be an Opposition alliance forming the government?

That will be the game after the elections. I think the Opposition is gearing up for this. As you know that there is a pre-poll alliance of UPA led by Congress that includes NCP, RJD and DMK among others. Now the first question is whether the UPA will have more numbers than the BJP-led NDA. If the UPA has more seats, then it is quite simple. The President is duty bound to call the UPA first. The BJP, of course, will be the single largest party and it is also quite possible that the NDA could also emerge as the largest bloc. In such a situation, they will get the call from the President. If the NDA shortfall is more than 40 or 50 seats, that is where the game for the Opposition starts. That is where various regional parties may decide that this time, it is our turn and we have done very well. If the Congress also say, it is alright, you go ahead, then the game is on.

Who do you think will be the main players in such a scenario?

Certain players like Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav, Mamata Banerjee are not going to align with the BJP. It is quite possible that even regional parties like YSR Congress or the BJD or TRS, if they see a Federal Front emerging with Congress playing a low-key role, they would choose that instead of the BJP. The BJP's problem is, I think the problem Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces, that it looks too strong and muscular and the regional parties may fear that if we support them now, they may gobble them up. There is a fear that may happen. It has nothing to do with ideology necessarily. It has to do much more with the fear of being gobbled up.

So how do they get out of this situation?

In a Federal Front, they will have the reassurance of numbers and they also know that the Congress has very little chance of gobbling them up. Because in any case, Congress will not have their own Prime Minister in a Federal Front, it will not have that kind of clout, which the BJP would have. This is what political logic suggests. That is where things stand. If the NDA is in a striking distance of forming the government, that is the they are short of only 20 seats for majority and have some 250 seats, then Modi will be able to persuade one or the other regional party like by offering special status to Andhra Pradesh. But mind you again, special status for Andhra will be given by a Federal Front in any case. The Congress has already said it. So YSR Congress is not getting anything extra from Modi. Even then it is a tussle. But closer to the mark the NDA is, it becomes easier for Modi. The farther they are from the majority mark, it becomes more difficult.

Some of the Opposition parties are not keen on a Congress man assuming the Prime Ministership. Whom do you think is a possible candidate from other parties?

That is something that remains a big question mark. At this point, we cannot speculate. I think at this point nobody wants to get into that. No party would like to say who they prefer. Everybody has their own candidate. There is a question of numbers. After Congress, who will be the largest party? We have to see which bloc has numbers, who is more acceptable. I think there may be rotation, there will be more prime ministers. You never know. These are new features we may be seeing. If UPA gets the numbers, then there is a strong possibility that Rahul Gandhi will be the Prime Minister. It is a natural thing. But if UPA is getting less, then Modi is likely to be sworn in as Prime Minister. He will have to prove his majority and there will be lot of drama. May be, we see a repeat of what A B Vajpayee went through in 1996 and a United Front type government taking over with Congress support from outside.

Another theory doing rounds is that if BJP falls below 200, there may be a non-Modi government but with Nitin Gadkari or Rajnath Singh as Prime Minister. Some parties have problems with Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah only. So do you think such a scenario is possible?

At the moment, it seems unlikely. The RSS may play a role. The thing is that at the moment, if the BJP falls below 200 seats, I don't think the Opposition has any reason to support the BJP at all. They can rule themselves. If the Congress say lets go along, why should other Opposition parties have a problem. Why should they support a Gadkari-led or Rajnath-led BJP government? What do they gain? It is not that the Congress is not in competition. There may be internal dynamics in BJP that Modi may be ousted by a revolt from within. The RSS may feel that Modi has now outlived his utility and they need a more conciliatory sort of person who can deal with politics. All these posibilities are there. See, we are really speculating. To my mind, basically, there are three-four scenarios. One is Modi gets clear majority or he gets near majority where he can easily form the government. The second is that the NDA gets more than the UPA and called but is blocked as it needs numbers from the rest of the Opposition. In this, we have a situation where a Federal Front government, which is supported by the Congress. The third scenario is UPA getting more in which a UPA-3 type of a government is there. These are three kind of scenarios emerging.

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