The BJP will lose more than Shivsena if the Yuti is dissolved. The
bargaining power of Uddhav Thackeray is dependent on this very aspect.
The No-confidence Motion debate in the Lok Sabha remained controversial for two reasons. One, Rahul Gandhi’s unexpected hug and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s snub to PM Modi. Shivsena withdrawing its support to the government in the No-confidence motion debate was as unexpected and shocking as Rahul Gandhi’s hug. Though BJP won the No-confidence vote without Shiv Sena’s support, there was no doubt that Sena’s move could prove as a last wrench to the already severed ties of the allies.
The weekend after the Lok Sabha showdown went without any flutter, only to come across as the calm before the storm. On Sunday, BJP National President Amit Shah visited Mumbai for the party’s ‘Sampark for Samarthan’ Campaign. However, according to the reports, he also asked the party cadre to be prepared to fight the Lok Sabha election without any alliance in Maharashtra. Soon after the reports came out Saamana, a mouthpiece of Shivsena published an interview of Uddhav Thackeray slamming the BJP titled, “Now we don’t need any gun, the prey is exhausted.”
On the surface, the statement may seem just another word-play but it has indeed more to reveal, come to think of it. Since 2014 Maharashtra Assembly Elections, Shivsena and BJP’s relations have remained similar to frenemies. It was only last year during the Dasara Melava, that Shivsena chief Uddhav Thackeray announced that the Maratha party will contest the upcoming 2019 Lok Sabha Elections alone. With this announcement, it was obvious for people to expect that Sena will quit the NDA and govt. However, it did not happen. On the contrary, Shivsena stayed in alliance with BJP in state and center as well, while criticizing its every move. When Sena supported BJP and then decided to abstain from the No-confidence motion debate, the party came under fire for its confusion and contradictions.
Yet, reading between the lines can make us understand that it was not confusion but the precision with which Uddhav Thackeray has been playing his cards. His strategy is exactly what he said in the interview: to exhaust the prey. Let us understand it in detail.
In more than two decades of Yuti between Shivsena and BJP, the former has always played a part of Big Brother. It was Sena founder Bal Thackeray who nurtured and helped the BJP grow in Maharashtra. The initial BJP squad from Maharashtra be it Pramod Mahajan or Gopinath Munde treated Shivsena as the elder brother. However, the roles were reversed after 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The Modi wave swept the country. In Maharashtra, BJP won 23 seats while Shivsena won only 18 seats. During assembly elections, citing the greater number of BJP, the party insisted that the CM face will be from the BJP. As we all know, this irked Uddhav Thackeray who was on the waiting list for CM seat.
Many times Uddhav Thackeray has said that he would like to be the Chief Minister of Maharashtra. The dream remained unfulfilled in 2014. However, the Thackeray junior hasn’t given up on the dream yet and all the bickering with BJP is motivated by the same.
If Uddhav Thackeray can be Chief Minister of Maharashtra in only two circumstances. One, if the party aligns with Congress and NCP and takes outside support from them. However, in this scenario, Uddhav Thackeray will become a stooge in the hands of Congress and NCP. Now, the party is left with another option i.e. continuing with BJP. However, Uddhav Thackeray knows it very well neither can he single-handedly win the elections nor the BJP will agree to declare him CM face of Yuti with the current strength in the assembly.
Thus, Shivsena is constantly trying to destabilize the BJP government and what better way of doing it than hitting where it hurts the most? It was the “Modi wave” that took away the role of Big brother from Shivsena. But four years into the Modi government, it has been proven that the Modi wave has already faded. Even in Maharashtra, the BJP has upset several sections of the electorate. The Fadnavis government has not only invited the wrath of Farmers but also of Marathas and Dhanagars who are demanding reservations.
The BJP is losing the grip on the ground. If nothing changes drastically in favor of BJP, the party is set to lose the PM post. As our Survey also predicted, if the party gets seats less than 230, then it will need allies to breach the majority mark. The allies, however, will not go with BJP with Modi as a Prime Minister. Sena is attacking Modi and weakening BJP’s allies base at this crucial juncture. TDP has already left the NDA camp and jumped the opposition boat. BJP cannot afford to lose Shivsena now. The modern-day Chanakya Amit Shah knows that the BJP will lose more than Shivsena if the Yuti is dissolved. Sena’s bargaining power is dependent on this very aspect. For BJP, trading CM post to Uddhav Thackeray for Modi’s PM post will be the only viable option. The Sena is attempting to exhaust the prey so that the blood is not in his hands.
Even though only six months are remaining for the next Lok Sabha elections, Shivsena is keeping BJP in a fix barring it from drafting a particular strategy for the state. As said earlier, Sena withdrawing from No-confidence motion was the biggest trigger before the big battle of 2019. Whether the strategy will succeed or not is something for all of us to look forward to in the upcoming months.
MP Assembly Election 2018: The Kamal Nath factor
The return of Kamal Nath to state politics who had remained at the Centre was considered to overturn Congress’ prospect in Madhya Pradesh.
“I don’t want you to vote for Congress leader Kamal Nath, I want you to vote my third son Kamal Nath,” said Indira Gandhi in a rally while campaigning in Chhindwara. Nath who traces back his family roots to UP’s Kanpur was contesting for the Lok Sabha seat from MP’s Chhindwara constituency-a constituency dominated by the tribal population. On April 26, Congress President Rahul Gandhi rejigged the Madhya Pradesh unit of the Congress Committee and handed over the reins to Kamal Nath-a 71 years old party MP and Gandhi family loyalist. In a poll-bound Madhya Pradesh where Congress has been out of power for the last 15 years, the task in front of Kamal Nath is to deliver the results when the state unit is infested with factionalism.
Nath’s return to state politics who had for most of his political career remained at the Centre was considered to overturn Congress’ prospect in Madhya Pradesh. He has been a member of parliament for record 9 times from Chhindwara and had also held positions like Union MoS Environment and Forests, Union MoS Textiles and Minister for Commerce and industry. However, it also came as a surprise since Rahul Gandhi as a president was expected to give chance to more young force. For that matter, Jyotiraditya Scindia’s name, the royal scion of Gwalior, was considered a front-runner for the Chief Ministerial candidature. Yet, ‘importing’ Kamal Nath from Centre was a move carefully devised to keep the party flock together in the state. There are various reasons why the Kamal Nath factor was added to the Madhya Pradesh Congress chapter.
Kamal Nath- the Gandhi family loyalist:
Kamal Nath studied from a Doon school in Dehradun. He and Sanjay Gandhi were school buddies. Kamal Nath hailed from an affluent family while Sanjay Gandhi, from a family that wielded the political power in the country. Nath’s batchmate remembers him as an unconventional person who always had Sanjay Gandhi’s back. The stories of the friendship between the two still are among the hot topics discussed in Delhi corridors. Not only did he dream of Maruti car – the affordable car for the Indian middle class along with Sanjay Gandhi but also went to Tihar jail when Gandhi was put behind the bars during Janata Government days. From Dehradun to Delhi, he was a shadow of Gandhi, a part of what was then infamously called “Sanjay Ke Chhokre” (Hoodlums of Sanjay Gandhi). He was so inseparable from Sanjay Gandhi that a campaign slogan was created- “Indira Gandhi ke Do Haath, Sanjay Gandhi aur Kamal Nath.”
Even after the death of Sanjay Gandhi, Nath remained close confidante of the Gandhi family. He was even named in 1984 Anti-Sikh riots. He was also Rajiv’s trusted lieutenant. His acceptability and good relations across parties made him a man Friday of Sonia Gandhi when it came to managing allies and the opposition during the UPA-2 government. Though the talks with BSP’s Mayawati have soured now, it must be recalled how Kamal Nath managed to get her to support the Congress’ Rajya Sabha candidate from MP Vivek Tankha when party fell short of two votes.
The man with a deep pocket:
It is no longer a secret that Congress party is facing the worst fund crunch currently. In the election year, this can put the party on a back seat especially compared to the rival BJP who got richer multi-folds since 2014. Some in the Congress also believe that Kamal Nath got the post because of the financial resources that he has. Kamal Nath owns as many as 23 businesses which are managed by his sons- ranging from the fields of real estate to aviation and from plantations to hospitality.
Kamal Nath serves as president of the board of governors for The Institute of Management Technology (IMT). He is also the Chairman of “Madhya Pradesh Child Development Council” and Patron to the Bharat Yuvak Samaj (Youth Wing of All India Bharat Seva Samaj). As Livemint points out, some companies in which the Nath family has direct stakes include Span Plantations Pvt. Ltd, Alzo Investments Pvt. Ltd, Nakul Securities Pvt. Ltd, Bakul Holdings Pvt. Ltd, EMC Projects Pvt. Ltd and International Management Technologies Pvt. Ltd. Some subsidiaries include Span Air Pvt. Ltd, Centenary Trading Pvt. Ltd and Shaka Properties Pvt. Ltd. However, his business ownership has always been a low-key affair.
The hero of Chhindwara:
In the state, the Congress is banking on Kamal Nath’s Chhindwara model of development. In his constituency, Kamal Nath is worshipped for transforming the face of the town. The tremendous development work done by him in Chhindwara- which even rivals cannot dare doubt, is the main plank of Congress this assembly election. Despite not being the son of the soil, Kamal Nath is so popular that at the peak of Modi wave, he managed to win by a huge margin in 2014. The people from his constituency vouch for the development-broad roads, big industries, IT parks, Tech parks, schools & colleges & big hospitals. He brought industries such as Western Coalfields Limited & Hindustan Unilever in Chhindwara.
He also brought many institutes such as Raymond Cloth making training institute, Ashok Leyland Drivers Training Institute, NIIT knowledge center, Apparel Training & Design Centre & Footwear Design and Development Institute. His image as a one who is above petty politics has earned him respect in opposition camp as well.
The mastermind administrator:
Having been the longest serving member of parliament from his constituency, Nath has earned the reputation of a skilled administrator and an efficient floor manager who knows how to move the cadre and the financial resources. He is also popular as a master strategist who can effectively lead the party in a high decibel election fervor. Not only he has a good reputation among the elites but also has a strong grass root connect- a balance only a few can pull. While many leaders draw clout from the caste they hail from, Kamal Nath has earned his base purely on the basis of his work-which also seems to work in his favor. He is entrusted with bringing the factions together. His strategy to unsettle BJP’s Hindutva pitch as soon as he took over the charge suggests the shrewd political acumen that he employs.
Fear of another faction?
When Kamal Nath was brought in, the state unit was enthusiastic that the party will be able to put a stop on the factionalism. However, as it turned out, the party is fearing another faction supporting Kamal Nath for CM post emerging. Though former CM Digvijay Singh has been backtracked by the party for his loudmouth image, he has returned to the active politics with his ‘Narmada Ekta yatra’ after a 10- years sabbatical. He still has some support base in the party. On the other hand, the supporters of Jyotiraditya Scindia and Kamal Nath are often seen sparring over social media. Even in the recent rally of Rahul Gandhi, posters demanding Scindia to be made CM appeared. Many also believe that Digvijay Singh, Congress’s coordination committee chief – who strongly supported Nath’s appointment, is running the show. This has again led to cracks in state Congress unit when the state is just a month away from polling.
The Kamal Nath factor comes with its own advantages and fallouts. Whether the strategist and pro-development image of Kamal Nath outweigh the factionalism, will be tested in the upcoming days.
ABP-CVoter Survey: SP+BSP+Congress alliance can be a big shocker to NDA
The ABP-CVoter survey predicts NDA to win 276 seats, the UPA, on the other hand, stands to gain 112 seats if the elections are held now.
A day after Mayawati’s shocker that her party BSP will not be joining Congress in Madhya Pradesh or Rajasthan, a pre-poll survey has come to fore which suggests that Congress stands to lose more if it fails to stitch an alliance with SP and BSP in Uttar Pradesh ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha Elections. The ABP News-CVoter ‘Desh ka Mood’ (Mood of the Nation) survey also predicted that with the divided opposition NDA can reap big benefits although at the cost of lesser seats.
However, the survey predicts Prime Minister Narendra Modi will get the second term at power in 2019. While the survey predicts NDA to win 276 seats, the UPA, on the other hand, stands to gain 112 seats if the elections are held now. The non-NDA, non-UPA parties are predicted to get 115 seats. The vote shares of NDA and UPA will be 38 percent and 25 percent respectively while others will have a vote share of 37%.
What is interesting to note here is in 2014 Lok Sabha election, BJP singlehandedly won 282 seats. However, according to the survey, the BJP together with the NDA parties cannot even reach the mark if the elections are held today. If BJP loses the comfortable majority it has now, it will have to depend on the coalition partners to form the government. As we have pointed out in our survey, this poses a serious threat to Modi’s PM prospect in 2019.
On the other hand, Congress which showed an abysmal performance in 2014 Lok Sabha elections and fell to only 44 seats stand to gain as UPA is predicted to win 112 seats. In 2014, UPA had won 60 seats. The ABP-CVoter survey thus predicts a jump of almost 50% in the seats of UPA.
The ABP-CVoter survey has presented predictions for three possible scenarios-firstly, if Congress, SP, and BSP join hands. Second, if BSP decides to go alone and third if SP-BSP forms an alliance without Congress. The state has 80 Lok Sabha seats which are the maximum and thus is considered the most crucial state.
In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, BJP had swept the state by winning as many as 71 seats. SP won 5 seats, while Congress and Apna Dal won 2 seats each. Mayawati’s BSP couldn’t even open an account in the state which is considered its stronghold.
According to the Survey, if the above three parties form a grand alliance then they can win as many as 56 seats. BJP, on the other hand, will face a big setback with seats falling down to only 24.
Another possible scenario is Congress chooses to stay out of the SP+BSP alliance. In this scenario, the alliance will get 42 seats, UPA (Read Congress) will get only 2 seats and NDA will get 36 seats. In this scenario, the SP-BSP alliance stands to gain the most while NDA stands to lose 37 seats.
- In case there is no Grand Alliance
In case there is no Grand alliance and UPA and NDA parties contest the election, then NDA will repeat the 2014 result albeit with the loss of only 1 seat. While UPA will win only 2 seats, others will win only 8 seats.
In the first case, i.e. if they join UPA then the UPA is predicted to grab 18 seats while NDA will get 22 seats. However, if they remain in NDA, the UPA is speculated to lose 9 seats while NDA gets 31 seats.
In both the scenarios, NDA has an edge over UPA parties in the state.
Madhya Pradesh has total 29 Lok Sabha seats. In 2014, UPA had won only 2 seats in the state while NDA had won 27 seats. The ABP-CVoter survey predicts that UPA’s seats will increase only by 4 seats and NDA will win 23 seats.
In a survey conducted in August, the agency had predicted that NDA is set to lose the assembly elections in the state.
Rajasthan has 25 Lok Sabha constituencies. In 2014, BJP has swept the state winning all the seats. Congress couldn’t even open its account. According to the survey, the BJP’s seat may come down to 18 while Congress may win 6 seats if elections are held today.
Apparently, CVoter had predicted that NDA would lose the upcoming state assembly elections in a survey conducted in August.
Chhattisgarh has 11 lok sabha seats. In 2014, BJP won 10 seats while Congress won only 1 seat. The survey doesn’t predict a major difference in the tally. If the elections are conducted today, BJP will lose one and Congress will gain 1 seat from the current seats.
Maharashtra is one of the crucial states for both BJP and Congress. As the alliance scenario is still not clear in Maharashtra, the political situation remains ambiguous. On one hand, Shivsena is sending every possible signal of being upset with the BJP, at the same time refusing to walk out of alliance and government, on the other hand, the talks of an alliance between NCP and Congress are still in initial phase. A new alliance between Prakash Ambedkar and Owaisi is also expected to cut into secular votes.
The state contributes total 48 seats to the parliament. In 2014, BJP won 23 seats, Shivsena 18 seats, NCP won 4 seats while Congress won only 2 seats in the state. The ABP-CVoter have given predictions for the three possible scenarios:
- Congress+NCP, Shivsena goes solo:
In this case, UPA stands to be the biggest gainer with 30 seats. NDA will win only 16 sets while Shivsena is considered to win only 2 seats if it goes solo.
- Congress+NCP, BJP+Shivsena:
If the original UPA and NDA parties remain intact then, the alliance of Sena and BJP can get an edge over the Congress and NCP alliance. The NDA here stands to win 36 seats while UPA will win 12 seats.
- All parties contest solo:
In this case, BJP will get maximum seats i.e. 22 followed by Congress which is predicted to get 11 seats. NCP has to settle with 8 seats while Shivsena may win only 7 seats.
Odisha has 21 Lok Sabha constituencies. In 2014, BJD has won 20 seats in the state barring one which was won by BJP. According to the survey, the tables could turn upside down with BJP winning 13 seats in the state, BJD winning 6 and Congress gaining 2 seats.
Punjab has a total of 13 Lok Sabha constituencies. In 2014, SAD, Congress and AAP had won 4 seats each while BJP only won 1. The survey predicts this time Congress (UPA) will emerge as a clear winner by winning 12 seats while BJP/NDA will win only 1. Punjab is now one of the few remaining states where Congress is in power.
Haryana has a total 10 Lok Sabha constituencies. In 2014, BJP won 7 seats, INLD won 2 and Congress won only 1 seat in the state. According to the survey, BJP may lose one seat. Congress may get 3 seats while others will win 1 seat.
The popularity of the ruling BJP seems to remain intact in the national capital as like in 2014, the party is expected to sweep all 7 seats, according to the survey.
South (Karnataka+ Kerala+ Telangana+ Andhra Pradesh+ Tamil Nadu):
The five southern states together contribute total 130 seats to the Lok Sabha. While the BJP strengthened its foothold in the northern states post-2014, it is still struggling to make an effective debut in the South. Apart from Karnataka, BJP has never been able to make indoors in the Southern states. Even when the entire country was witnessing a peak of a Modi wave, the BJP couldn’t win significant seats in South. Out of 282 seats, the four southern states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Tamil Nadu together contributed only 21 seats to the tally of BJP.
Interestingly, Congress too hasn’t shown any better performance in the south. In 2014, the party only won 20 seats in the south. However, significantly, out of the 44 seats that the party won 20 cases from South.
The regional parties, however, dominated the results.
According to the ABP-CVoter survey, NDA will still get the same numbers i.e. 21, UPA tally will be 32. However, the regional parties will be the real king of South getting 76 seats. It must be seen whether this comes as a signal for the Congress to look south for alliances.
North-East (Assam+ Manipur+ Mizoram+ Nagaland+ Tripura+ Arunachal Pradesh+ Sikkim+ Meghalaya):
The seven states of North-East contribute to 25 seats in the Lok Sabha. Incidentally, both Congress and BJP managed to win 8 seats each from this region in 2014. However, following the formation of North-East Democratic Alliance and Himanta Biswa Sharma’s joining of BJP has strengthened the party. The victory in Tripura and Assam has added to it. On the other hand, Congress’ presence in the state has deteriorated sharply.
According to the ABP-CVoter survey, the NDA coalition will get as many as 18 seats in north-east. This comes close to the target of 21 seats from North-East set by Amit Shah. UPA has to settle with 6 seats while others will get 1 seat.
Mayawati will be back in the opposition fold
Mayawati has maintained a safe distance from both the national parties, BJP and Congress.
BSP Supremo Mayawati on Wednesday pulled the plug on speculations of her possible alliance with Congress in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. In a press conference, she made explosive allegations on Congress for the discontinuation of talks and accused it of adopting a big brother approach to the alliance. She even blamed Congress senior leader Digvijaya Singh of sabotaging the possible alliance between Congress and BSP. “Congress has the misconception that it can face BJP on its own. It is because of these political decisions that Congress has lost elections repeatedly and BJP is winning state after state,” Mayawati said. She even accused that the Congress, just like BJP, trying to finish BSP politically. “But it won’t happen. It is the arrogance of Congress to think that it can defeat BJP on its own,” Mayawati warranted a quick rebuttal.
The news indeed sent shockwaves in political circle, especially among Congress followed by an expected hysteria among the media fraternity. “Opposition Unity in tatters”, “Congress fails to tie Mahagathbandhan”, “Elephant crushes hand” etc…hasty analysis occupied the TV screens. Some even handed out a certificate saying Mayawati not aligning with Congress is the biggest leadership fail of Rahul Gandhi. There was an evident frenzied alacrity to jump to the conclusion that Mayawati leaving is the crisis for opposition unity. Not to mention that the political commentators missed out on details that exist beyond the issue at the hand.
Let us first go through some facts:
Mayawati has not been in power for a long time
Mayawati’s BSP stormed India’s political scenario when it won 2007 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. Not only its core supporters i.e. Dalit community voted for her, but also Brahmins and a section of minorities voted in her favor. Since the splendid victory of the BSP’s elephant in a politically decisive state of UP, the party has turned out to be a sinking ship. In 2012 the BSP tally fell from 206 seats in 2007 to 80 seats.
In 2012 assembly election BSP’s vote share in Uttar Pradesh went down to nearly 26 percent and in 2014 Lok Sabha elections, to nearly 20 percent. Even in the 2017 assembly election, the party could only win 19 seats even after getting 22 percent of the total votes. Mayawati’s BSP has been out of power for a long time now. Visibly, a fear of fading into electoral and social oblivion has kicked in the party.
Mayawati and BJP can never go along:
Considering that Mayawati cannot win the MP Assembly elections on her own, there have been the host of opinions saying Mayawati could be acting like a B team of BJP. However, one cannot overlook the basic factor that differentiates BSP from BJP. While BSP’s core vote banks are Dalits, BJP is a party of Upper Caste Hindus. Both the parties are ideologically poles apart. If at all, Mayawati joins BJP lurking for a ministerial post, it will be nothing short of political suicide for the party. Not only the move will upset her core vote bank but also reduce her political importance. Mayawati knows it very well that even if she gets a cabinet birth, she will lose the power of negotiation in the coalition. The BSP will virtually lose its existence. The perfect example to describe this is Ramdas Athawle. However, Mayawati isn’t another Ramdas Athawle and thus will not take the risk of aligning with the BJP.
Mayawati never was in the opposition unity:
All the while when everyone was considering Mayawati a part of opposition unity, the truth was she never showed any real signs of being a part of it. Except for the one time she appeared at the oath-taking ceremony of Kumaraswamy in Karnataka. The ceremony was seen as the projection of the might of opposition unity. Even in the by-polls of Gorakhpur and Phulpur, Mayawati just extended her support to the SP candidate and refused to contend as the joint opposition candidate from Phulpur. She also kept a distance from the Bharat Bandh called by Congress on 10 September.
Incidentally, the change in her tunes was first noticed when she blamed both Congress and BJP for the rising fuel prices. While she kept insisting on no tie-up with the parties in her own stronghold state UP, she went ahead and joined hands with JD(S) in Karnataka and INLD in Haryana-both states where the party has a negligible presence.
Though Mayawati not tying up with Congress is a good news for BJP, one cannot be completely sure of what her next move will be as she has shown traits of unpredictability.
Mayawati will eventually join the opposition:
Considering the above three factors, it is clear that Mayawati has maintained a safe distance from both the national parties, BJP and Congress. The last assembly election data shows that Mayawati has a vote share of 6.29 percent and 3.37 percent in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, respectively. Even if the factor of rising Dalit anger is considered to gain her more votes, it is certain that she cannot win all the seats in both the state assemblies by herself.
What going alone will achieve is, bring her to a position of respectable negotiation in case if there are talks of the post-poll alliance. In that case, technically, Congress and opposition is the only viable option for Mayawati. Just like JDS in Karnataka, Mayawati’s BSP can get into a post-poll alliance with Congress in exchange of plush ministries.
What one has to understand here is, the non-BJP regional parties have no better practical option other than Congress when it comes to alliances. Thus, even though BSP seems to have been flirting with BJP, one can be sure that when the time comes, Mayawati will join the opposition. What we need to watch out for is when the homecoming will actually happen!
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