Pradip Bhandari

The My Nation-Jan ki Baat team has travelled across the country to present the first ever Mahagathbandhan poll. It is the first exhaustive exercise to disseminate different aspects of the Mahagathbandhan, and public opinion on it. This qualitative, representative exercise need not necessarily be converted directly into seats.

The Mahagathbandhan poll by My Nation-Jan Ki Baat reflects a trend, not the numbers, mood not the seats. Here are the takeaways on the top three trends from the ground

Anti-Modi plank of opposition might not be enough to throw Modi out

There is no doubt Mahagathbandhan has the potential to challenge PM Modi. Roughly 47% of the people approve of the challenge. However, there is a marginal 24.54% who believe that this is enough to dethrone Modi. In fact, those with the opinion that the Mahagathbandhan will make Modi stronger number 4% more than those who feel he can be ousted.

Even supporters of Mahagathbandhan accept that, post-2018 when political parties enter the campaign mode, a mere opposition to Modi will not help them get enough votes. This reinforces the following

1. A negative campaign by the opposition will not sell: 65% disapproval rating of Mahagathbandhan

2. A mere addition of vote share will not have a direct correlation with the seat share

BJP will face significant challenge in UP and Bihar

These are two States where roughly 50% have said the Mahagathbandhan is a serious force to reckon with in 2019. This has a combination of local, State and national factors.

The presence of two popular regional leaders Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati will make this State the greatest challenge for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. More than Yadav, the resurrection of Mayawati amid the Scheduled Castes make the Mahagathbandhan a dominant challenger.

The rise of Tejashwi Yadav as the most popular leader in Bihar apart from Nitish Kumar, especially among the youth. The RJD may play the catalyst in the Mahagathbandhan in Bihar.

However, in both the States, the acceptance of the Congress is marginal. This implies that in the run up to 2019, it will be very difficult for the Congress to call the shots in these two States.

Those betting on Mahagathbandhan doubt its wherewithal too

The anti-Modi plank, many regional faces and the absence of an alternative agenda currently has caught even staunch supporters of the Mahagathbandhan in dilemma when it comes to deciding the viability of a different government post-2019. About 79% of the people doubt that a Mahagathbandhan with several strong regional constituents will last five years.

The lack of a strong popular leader with the ability to steer the rag-tag coalition for five years will rock the boat of government. While 60% agree that the Congress will play the anchor role, they are not assured of the strength of the anchor.

The approval rating for Rahul Gandhi has gone down by 13% (47% Mahagathbandhan supporters feel Rahul Gandhi is the most likely prime ministerial face), as the face of the coalition is co-terminus with the question of Congress playing the anchor role. 

There are two types of seats: 334 where the BJP can have slump from its peak in 2014, and 209 seats where it can expand, having won just 14% of those seats on the previous occasion. The net effect of the deficit and gain will determine the fate of the BJP and Mahagathbandhan.