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By the time we hit the first week of May in 2014, we knew that Modi was on course to winning a massive victory and becoming the Prime Minister of India. We had also famously predicted that Congress party would be falling below the 75-seat mark, much to chagrin of all. People, especially journalists in Delhi, tend to behave as if they knew it all along that Modi would sweep India and that Congress would collapse to historic lows, but the fact is that exactly at this point, five summers ago, all of them were talking about how Mayawati was halting the Modi juggernaut in Uttar Pradesh and not a soul in their wildest nightmares had even dreamt that Congress would be struggling in double-digits.

Which is how most of them are behaving even today. For most Delhi journalists, this is a boring wave-less election and the SP-BSP Mahagathbandhan is surging ahead in Uttar Pradesh. After May 23rd, each one of those journalists will suddenly become experts in telling us how they always knew Modi was sweeping this election because of Balakot or WhatsApp or some such juvenile reason that they will then magically concoct. Most of the media and the editorial class has scant regard for data. What matters most to them is that the story must fit into their narrative theme.

This is also the primary reason why India has bypassed Delhi. Average Indians today have scant respect to media narratives of any kind. The journalistic brigade is extremely angry about it and tries to invent new innuendos every day to somehow bring back their past legitimacy – “Post truth society”, “WhatsApp Fake News” are just some such pejoratives used, but they forget that the Indian civilization was always like this, wherein politics and news were always lived experiences of communities which was only briefly disrupted in the latter half of the 20th century and the first decade of 2000’s when political news and views were centrally controlled by large media houses through both print and broadcast medium. Ordinary India has once again taken back control of news and politics and the left-liberal secularist brigade of Delhi feels slighted by this; how they wish they could go back to the hey days of Manmohan-Sonia-NAC-NGO type government!

All of them lost the plot in 2014 because of the resurgent Hindu voter – what we termed as USHV – United Spectrum of Hindu Voters. There is now no going back for Indian politics. Political secularism will most likely never return back to India, at least not in its previous form where minorities literally and figuratively had the first right of rejection of every move. Feudal politics of succession within a family is dying a natural death and 2019 will prove to be the first big disruption of this order.

The resurgent Hindu voter was especially more assertive in these last 3 phases of the 2014 election as BJP literally swept everything that came in its way here. In today’s 51 seats, for instance, apart from the counterintuitive state of West Bengal where TMC won all the 7 seats, BJP swept the whole of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, barring the two Gandhi family bastions of Amethi and Rai Bareli. In fact, NDA won a whopping 41 out of 51 seats that are voting today – success rate of an unprecedented 80%.

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We have already called the 2019 elections in favor of Narendra Modi and we are confident of this projection as the data is overwhelmingly suggesting the same. So, what are we looking for in today’s polling? It is actually a mix of several things, but mostly our models will be tracking whether the trend we have observed so far would continue to hold, or would there be any alterations to the same. We are looking for four state-specific trends in today’s round of polling.

  1. As the UP-election transits from the west to the central-Awadh region of what we call the Ayodhya-Lucknow-Devipatan electoral zone, we would be watching the other OBC and SC voter trends closely as this is what helped BJP most here in 2014 and 2017 – both the Prime Minister (through his speeches) as well as the local BJP-RSS karyakartas have made a concerted effort to target this segment of voters by wooing away a section of erstwhile Maya voters in this phase.
  2. Rajasthan today will tell us whether it would be a clean sweep like last time or whether BJP will suffer a few losses here. In the previous phase, BJP had retained leads in almost all the seats, once again showing that the December assembly election was a freak of political nature.
  3. Madhya Pradesh was not at its best for the BJP last Monday, but that could be partly due to the fact that it was the tribal belt of Mahakoshal that voted last time and partly because that was Kamalnath territory and he may have still enjoyed a bit of honeymoon period as the newly anointed chief minister of the state. Today’s polling is therefore crucial for the BJP as these are real strongholds of the saffron party and mostly have remained loyal for two decades now.
  4. In Bengal, we have now entered out and out TMC stronghold areas and what we will be tracking in today’s polling is whether there are changes from the 2014 trends here. The ripple effect of the first 3 phases should help the BJP with some positive momentum and this is what will be interesting to watch out for.

 

What is clearly apparent till now in this election season is the pathetic state of the main opposition party, the Congress. Although the party still gets bits and pieces of Muslim votes, even in far off Bengal where Mamata rules the Muslim hearts, it is simply not rising above that 15th percentile. Congress party’s tally in this round of polling is an abysmal 2 seats and it looks unlikely that the party will improve much from that point. Once again, we are boldly proclaiming that the grand old party of Indian politics is unlikely to cross the 50-seat mark in the 2019 national elections – it would be a huge surprise if it did. The Gandhis are at an inflection point, they will soon have to take a call on their role in Indian politics as history is not on their side and time is running out fast.