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High polling on most seats on April 17 is comforting for Narendra Modi-led BJP,Lok sabha elections 2014

High polling on most seats on April 17 is comforting for Narendra Modi-led BJP,Lok sabha elections 2014

modisketchecThey were calling it Super Thursday — the 800-pound gorilla round of the nine-phase 16th Lok Sabha election. With 121 seats, some of them in states such as Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, where the two national parties/alliances are locked in head-to-head contests, this round had the potential to irreversibly define the direction of the election.
For Narendra Modi's party, the 121 seats held hope not just because it sought to make big gains at the cost of the Congress in Maharashtra and Rajasthan, as well as recover ground in Karnataka, where it was defeated in the 2011 assembly election. For the BJP, this round also tested the Modi wave in the East Bloc: Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and pockets of north Bengal. That is why a high turnout, a rough but not always indicator of a mood against the party ruling in New Delhi, was deemed essential.Complete 5th phase of lok sabha poll )

 

Long-drawn elections are a challenge for a front-runner. A section of the BJP still holds that if the 2004 election had seen a quick, two or three-phase voting, the early momentum would have carried Atal Bihari Vajpayee back to power. Instead, an election that was decided upon in January saw the final voting machines being used in mid-May. By then fatigue and cynicism had set in, not to speak of overconfidence, and the "India Shining" campaign collapsed.

That experience and the fear of a repeat have been at the back of the BJP's mind in 2014. Hence the repeated and rigorous party appeals to voters, before every round of polling, to exercise their franchise. The perception that the urban middle classes, a demographic group Modi is banking on heavily, will simply stay home or disappear for a holiday in the belief that the BJP is winning anyway, is difficult to shake off. In that sense, the generally high turnout on Thursday, April 17, would have left the BJP brass relieved.( Lok sabha election upadtes read here )

Take Bangalore South as a case study. In a microcosm, this constituency captures many of the key issues and factors at play in this election. HN Ananth Kumar is the outgoing MP in a seat that has a strong RSS network and has been traditionally pro-BJP. However, as a local parliamentarian, Kumar faces serious anti-incumbency. He can overcome these and win if the Modi factor and the desire to make Narendra Modi prime minister trump all other voter calculations.

Ranged against Kumar is Nandan Nilekani, a well-known public figure and corporate professional, with a good image, the sort of outsider the middle classes would want to see succeed in politics. Yet, Nilekani ran a very local and localised campaign because he realised seeking votes on the basis of the UPA government's performance would get him nowhere. The third factor in the mix was the likelihood of middle-class Bangaloreans going away for an extended Easter weekend and not showing up at the polling station.

Which one of these happened in Bangalore South? A little less than half the Lok Sabha seats (232 of 543) have now voted. Opinion polls and political assessments give the BJP an advantage but are of course not unanimous about how many seats it will win. Indeed, predicting conversion of vote share to seats is very difficult in an election where so many major states — Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa — have moved from predictable bipolarity to chaotic multipolarity.

What is fairly evident, however, is the Congress is in panic. It is telling Rahul Gandhi has resorted to a unifocal attack on Modi — mentioning his marital status and the fact that 20,000 women are allegedly missing in Chhattisgarh at election meetings in even Doda. The "ideological" appeal by Sonia Gandhi, in a television advertisement that came when many parts of the country had already voted, was also revealing. It made for a piquant precursor to Super Thursday. Let's see what Super Thursday: The Sequel — April 24, when 117 seats go to polls — has in store for us.

Source: Economic times

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