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Keeping Fingers Crossed Till Evening Of May 23

With the Election Commission of India announcing the schedule for the general elections to the Lok Sabha, the stage has been set for competition among parties to win the favour of the electorate. Voters would have to choose their representatives from among the two main national combinations, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) led by the Bharatiya Janata Party and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) led by the Congress, and the third front (which is yet to crystallize) and a host of regional parties. Both the NDA and the UPA have lost or gained allies since the last elections were fought in 2014.  Among the prominent allies to leave the NDA was the Telugu Desam Party, which accused the BJP of failing to fulfill the promise made to Andhra Pradesh. But the BJP appeared to have made up the loss of TDP with AIADMK. The Congress lost the Samajwadi Party in UP but has gained a few.

The Lok Sabha elections are going to be fought on a number of issues concerning various sections of society, such as farmers, youth, women and unorganized workers. The results of the elections would depend on how much the parties are able to convince the voters on the issues taken up by them. The BJP would capitalize on the achievements of the Modi government, and it has got an additional traction after the Indian Air Force strikes at the Jaish-e-Muhammad training camp at Balakot within the territory of Pakistan. BJP poll campaigners are going to get the most out of the nationalistic fervour aroused by the security forces actions following the killing of forty CRPF men at Pulwama. The Congress is going to try to blunt the edge of BJP campaign by raising issues of Rafale aircraft deal, economic mismanagement, unemployment, agrarian distress and the misgovernance. The opposition has been left to crying hoarse; its every attack on the Modi government has been silenced by BJP leaders who portray their leaders as ‘anti-national.’ It remains to be seen how much the nationalistic fervour aroused by Balakot strikes is going to influence the election results. The elections are in seven phases and will be drawn out. Besides, there will be regional issues cropping up in the states that all parties have to confront.

Though national issues will influence Goa elections too there would be local issues such as the resumption of mining and special status for the state that might play a role. The BJP won both the Lok Sabha seats in the state in the 2014 elections. The party might not find the going as easy this time as it did in 2014. The Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, a key alliance partner of the BJP in the state, is yet to announce its stand on the Lok Sabha elections. The MGP has set up its candidate in the Assembly election for Shiroda, though it is yet to decide whether it should do the same for Mandrem and Mapusa. However, if the MGP fights the poll in Shiroda, it would adversely affect the chances of the BJP candidate there. The whole conflict might sour the relations between the BJP and the MGP and could affect the polling in the Lok Sabha elections, especially in North Goa, from where Shripad Naik has been elected several times. Adding to the troubles of the BJP, the Congress is trying to gain the support of mining dependants and

The outcome of parliamentary elections is difficult to predict as it is hard to know whether issues of national importance will sway voters or regional issues. Nobody expected the BJP to score such a big win in 2014 but its anti-corruption tirade helped it score resounding victory. Though the BJP might not be able to repeat its spectacular performance of 2014, the Congress and other opposition parties would find it hard to derive great benefit out of it, largely owing to the fact that politics has become personality oriented and Modi still draws more support of people than Rahul Gandhi as the right candidate for country’s leadership. The opposition parties, despite their common resolve to oust Modi, have failed to come together to fight the BJP under a single banner. It remains to be seen whether the Congress is able to build upon its recent successes in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. Much will depend on how the campaigns of the major regional parties play out and how they position themselves with respect to the two main political parties, the BJP and
the Congress.

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