Day Dreaming About 2024

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | February 27, 2024 IST

Sutanu Guru

Sutanu Guru


Executive Director, C Voter Foundation

When you are down and out and on the verge of being electorally knocked out, the tendency to celebrate with gusto any seemingly good news is but natural. No wonder Congress leaders, supporters and their “liberal” well wishers in the media and elsewhere are cock a hoop with joy after the party formally sealed two alliance deals with the Aam Aadmi Party & the Samajwadi Party. The Congress and AAP will jointly fight in Chandigarh, Haryana, Delhi, Gujarat & Goa. They will contest against each other in Punjab. The SP and the Congress will jointly fight in Uttar Pradesh, like they had fought the 2017 assembly elections together with Rahul Gandhi & Akhilesh Yadav being branded and promoted as “UP Ke Ladke”. Prior to this, the INDI Alliance was being bruised & battered with leaders and parties jumping ship. Nitish Kumar & the JD(U) are back in the NDA fold. The western UP based RLD led by the grandson of former prime minister and Bharat Ratna Charan Singh is now with the NDA. Senior opposition leaders continue to quit and make a beeline for either the BJP or an NDA partner. For instance, when Milind Deora quit the Congress, he opted for the Eknath Shinde faction of the Shiv Sena. But former chief minister Ashok Chavan directly joined the BJP.

 Amidst all this churn, it is no doubt natural for members of the INDI Alliance to treat the ew alliances as a huge booster dose. But there is also a tendency in political commentary in India to go overboard and start generating hype when substance (in this case data) doesn’t back you up. To that extent, the author was not surprised when Congress leaning “liberal” journalists went to town making these new alliances as a game changer; a force that will give the opposition alliance even ammunition to deliver the knockout punch to prime minister Narendra Modi. Some analysts have also started highlighting the claim made almost on a daily basis by Modi that the BJP will cross 370 and the NDA will cross 400 as the kind of arrogance and overconfidence reminiscent of 2004. According to them, everyone presumed that a triumphant NDA led by the charismatic Atal Bihari Vajpayee will win the 2004 Lok Sabha elections with a larger majority. In reality, the NDA failed. Liberals are hoping for a repeat of that 2004 performance by the Congress in 2024.

 The author is quite bemused. It is perfectly fine to dislike the BJP and hope & pray it loses. It is perfectly alright to support the Congress. It is a free country after all. But analysts are not supposed to start day dreaming. And that is exactly what these so called liberal analysts and commentators are doing at the moment. Let’s look at some data to understand why even to suggest 2024 could be a repeat of 2004 is laughable.  In 1999, the NDA was at its peak and won a comfortable majority in the post Kargil Lok Sabha elections. The Congress delivered its worst ever performance, ending up with a tally of 114 seats. Yet, the vote share of the Congress was about 4% more than that of the BJP. That was of enormous help when the tables turned in 2004. But facts have since changed. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the vote share of the BJP was close to 18% higher than that of the Congress. Does anyone sensible who sees the enormous popularity of Modi and the ruthless booth level drive of the BJP even think that the Congress can even dream of bridging and closing this 18% vote share gap in 2024? As the author mentioned, to even suggest a serious Congress comeback this time is laughable.

 The other argument is to not look at the Congress alone and see how the alliance partners together can defeat the BJP. Let’s look at that. In 2019, the BJP alone (without its smaller allies) touched a 50% vote share in Uttar Pradesh. The combined vote share of the SP and the Congress was about half of that. Two alliances forged were against the BJP in 2017 and 2019. The SP-Congress alliances was trounced in the 2017 assembly elections. The formidable BSP-SP alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections failed to stop the BJP juggernaut. How does expect a miracle to happen this time? It is a similar story with AAP & Congress. In Delhi, the BJP vote share in 2019 was 58%. It was 62% in Gujarat. Does the newfound chemistry between AAP and the Congress have the power to reduce and reverse this vote share gap? 

You decide. 

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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