How Elections are Won and Lost in India

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India has entered full election mode: voting is due to begin on 11 April, with the final ballot cast 40 days later on 19 May. Every day, you will be seeing several twists and turns happening on the land of  the world’s largest democracy.

Tom Vadakkan’s blow to Congress

He was not a very high profile figure in the Congress, though, Tom Vadakkan was known to be close to former party president Sonia Gandhi and functioned as a national media spokesperson.

Political leader Tom Vadakkan’s left Congress party and joined the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). It took him  more than 20 years to arrive at this decision. This is the biggest talking point. Some will undoubtedly see this as half the battle won already for the BJP. Tom’s  departure also reveals trust deficit  in the leadership of Rahul Gandhi.

After 20 years he became “upset” with Congress’. The party’s response to Pulwama suicide attack which killed 40 people didn’t go well with Tom.

Not just the Congress that has been losing people to the BJP. In Feb 2019 alone, 28 leaders from different opposition parties have joined BJP, the current ruling party.

One usual view is – the Congress led opposition is set to lose badly in 2019, opinion polls suggest so,  and Mr Vadakkan and other leaders are abandoning a sinking ship.

The Congress, as anticipated, painted this as a non-issue and unsuccessfully tried to dismiss Tom’s departure.

There has been speculation for quite some time that the “old guard” of the party has been unhappy with the way Rahul Gandhi has been working to change things.

Rahul Gandhi has been trying to “shake things up” since he became the Congress president in December 2017. He has been unsuccessful so far to a large scale. He has been involved in a number of court cases like the National Herald case.

Also Read: Complaint Filed Against Cong President Rahul Gandhi Over His Ram Avatar Posters

Many of Congress leaders tend to defect. Most of these come from the politically vital state of Uttar Pradesh, which has 80 parliamentary constituencies. The BJP won handsomely in 2014. Today, it faces twin tough challenges in U.P. : SP-BSP coalition and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

Both these factors have somewhat been neutralized by the BJP after Feb 26 surgical strikes.

Congress has been left out of SP-BSP combine – the state’s two main regional parties. This has irked Congress leaders. So, they like to quit Congress and join the surge which every one sees as a Modi wave.

The BJP saw a huge victory in 2014. This time it is facing a rather easy task of  wooing disgruntled leaders from opposition camps, some of whom have had to give up on their personal ambitions in order to prop up the alliance.  This “weaken the rivals” policy is one way with which elections are either won or lost- the skill which the BJP’s poll strategists know very well.

Also ReadManmohan Singh was not as tough as PM Modi: Sheila Dikshit

.…….to be continued

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