India waits with bated breath; final phase of Lok Sabha polls can upset many calculations

First Published 15, May 2019, 3:46 PM IST
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India waits with bated breath for final phase of Lok Sabha polls which can upset many calculations
Highlights

The seats going to the polls are 13 each in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, nine in West Bengal, eight each in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, four in Himachal Pradesh, three in Jharkhand and one in Chandigarh

If you are in the media, you may be privy to some of the exit polls conducted over the six phases of the polls held so far. And as has been the case all these years, the exit poll surveys mirror who is conducting them rather than reflecting what the people feel.

More than anybody else, the politicos understand this and hence would never take any situation for granted. The 59 remaining seats set for polling on May 19, in simple numerical terms too, still have the potential to upset political calculations one way or the other.

That is why the campaign continues to remain no-holds-barred and there is no sign of any coming down in the intensity of speeches.

Also, among the 59 constituencies, many are pivotal and can be argued to carry a larger political significance.

The seats going to the polls are 13 each in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, nine in West Bengal, eight each in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, four in Himachal Pradesh, three in Jharkhand and one in Chandigarh.

And all eyes are on the NDA as to whether it can repeat of the splendid show it pulled off in 2014 in the very same seats. Of the 50, the NDA emerged victorious in 40, with the BJP alone accounting for 33 of them.

The NDA will in particular look at Punjab with great interest as it is one state which has slipped out of its hands post-2014. The BJP and the Shiromani Akali Dal alliance has an onerous task on its hand.

Captain Amarinder Singh is a past master at poll strategies and is one of the few leaders who has managed to set a narrative for the Congress away from the diktats of its centralised high-command. One can surely expect a battle royal in Punjab against two established rivals.

In Madhya Pradesh too, the BJP is hoping to do better than what it did in the state Assembly elections last year. In Bihar, the tie-up with Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United) looks solid for the BJP, but the feeling of anti-incumbency must worry it a bit. In UP, the BJP has had to tread carefully as the SP-BSP alliance is formidable, and again the anti-incumbency against the Yogi Adityanath government can be a factor. Yet, the BJP is claiming that things are under control for it. The UP picture is crucial for all the parties, and hence the fight has been tumultuous.

The nine seats in West Bengal, of course, will also see a momentous clash as the TMC and the BJP are locked in one of the most vicious battles ever. The events unravelling in the state are disturbing, and the Mamata Banerjee government, being in charge of the state, needs to show much more maturity and responsibility in establishing peace and order.

The BJP is sensing an opportunity to do better in Bengal, where it won two seats in 2014. It is now going for broke in the state, and the TMC, which feels vulnerable, is retaliating with the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

The Congress, which seemed to have lost steam midway through the campaign, has not gathered any kind of momentum in these seats. The fact that the talk of Third Front has gained currency, especially among some of its existing allies (the DMK, the JDS) should worry the Congress. It may reflect a fading confidence on it amongst its partners.

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