Barring A Miracle, Voters Will Yet Again say “Good Bye & Ta-Ta” To Rahul Gandhi In 2024

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | August 29, 2023 IST

Sutanu Guru

Sutanu Guru

Executive Director, C Voter Foundation

Since it is foolhardy to make forecast about politics and elections, I have added a caveat “barring a miracle”. Yes, only a miracle can provide enough firepower and ammunition to the “young” prince to dethrone Narendra Modi in 2024. Since miracles rarely happen, particularly in the hard-nosed and brutal world of politics, I can stick my neck out and say that Narendra Modi is all set to equal the record set by India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru: of winning three consecutive Lok Sabha mandates. Even Indira Gandhi had not managed the feat. Rahul Gandhi has considerably improved his reputation and standing among average Indian voters. Unfortunately for him, the Congress and the INDI Alliance, that will still be no match for Modi, the BJP and the NDA.

There is no doubt that the INDI Alliance appears united and formidable. It also knows that there could be an existential crisis for a raft of opposition parties if Modi wins yet again in 2024. That is why serious efforts are being made to field “one united” candidate against the BJP in about 400 of the 543 Lok Sabha seats. But I have argued repeatedly with electoral data that the basic minimum necessary condition required to defeat Modi is for the Congress to individually win more than 140 seats; perhaps 150. But a recent special issue of India Today magazine dedicated to gauging the mood of the nation and based on an exclusive nationwide survey by Cvoter seems to be puncturing all such hopes. (Cvoter is the parent organisation of the Foundation where the author works). According to the survey, the Congress is projected to win about 75 seats, which is barely half of what it needs in 2024, though better than the 44 and 52 it managed in 2014 and 2019.

Let’s first look at some big numbers visible in the special issue of India Today. There is a substantial improvement in the projected performance of the opposition. Taken together, the vote share of the INDI Alliance is 41.1 compared to 42.6% for the NDA. The difference appears deceptively small. It is deceptive. The NDA is projected to win 306 seats; well ahead of the majority mark of 272. The INDI Alliance is projected to win 194 seats while the unaffiliated parties like the YSR Congress (Andhra), the BRS (Telangana) and the BJD (Odisha) among others are expected to win 43 seats. The individual tally of the BJP is projected at 287 while that of the Congress is 75. Why the big difference in seatnumbers despite the small difference in vote share? The answer is simple, the bulk of the INDI Alliance vote share (apart from about 20% for the Congress will come from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Punjab and some “certain” opposition seats in states like West Bengal, Bihar and Maharashtra where the BJP has virtually no chance. The vote share number does look formidable on paper; but it is of no use in bulk of the seats where the BJP has extremely high chances of winning hands down. In most of these seats, it will be the BJP versus the Congress and Rahul Gandhi is falling short yet again.

Sympathisers of the united opposition would, of course, reject the findings of the survey. Their contention is: Indians are facing severe economic hardship. They have a point and the Cvoter survey for India Today highlights that. One question during the survey was to ask respondents to name the biggest failure of the NDA government. About 27.2% singled out price rise or inflation; 18.2% cited unemployment and another 11.1% cited lack of economic growth. Taken together, close to 57% of Indian voters regard economic and livelihood related issues as failures of the NDA government. There is more. Cvoter Foundation submits a Quarterly Report on Consumer Optimism based on a nationwide survey to the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister. According to those periodic surveys, two thirds of Indians say that they find it very difficult to manage household budgets. There are many other data points that reveal vulnerabilities of the NDA regime that a competent, focused and credible opposition can exploit to win the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. 

And yet, it seems that Narendra Modi will win again. In fact, I would again stick my “personal” neck out and say that the BJP on its own should comfortably cross the 300 mark. Why such a scenario? The answer lies with the leadership of Rahul Gandhi. In their own states, regional leaders like Mamata Bannerjee, Tejasvi Yadav, M. K. Stalin, Pinnari Vijayan and to some extent Akhilesh Yadav and Uddhav Thackeray are more than a match for Modi. They will certainly win their handsome share of seats. But not the Congress which is for all practical purposes led by Rahul Gandhi. The simple reason is “credibility”. Despite the shortcomings, voters are convinced Modi will still do a far better job than Rahul even after 2024. It is as simple as that. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, voters were convinced that Dr. Manmohan Singh would do a bette job as prime minister than his rival L. K. Advani. They delivered a big mandate to the Congress and the UPA. Something similar will happen in 2024 when voters will trust Modi more than Rahul. I would also add another important factor before closing. Rahul Gandhi is yet to offer a positive vision for a better future to ordinary Indians. Modi did that in 2014.

Disclaimer:

This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write-up have nothing to do with www.prameyanews.com.

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