Lady With Zero LS Seats & a Noida Ex-Clerk to Decide Modi’s Fate
(This story has been republished from The Quint’s archives in light of the Samajwadi Party’s wins in Uttar Pradesh bypolls with the support of Bahujan Samaj Party.)
An ex-clerk of Noida Authority, and a lady with zero seats in Lok Sabha, could decide Prime Minister Modi’s political fate in 2019! Incredible, right? Well, the ex-clerk is none other than Anand Kumar, and the lady, his sister – the almighty behenji aka Mayawati, four times the CM of UP and a redoubtable leader of Dalits. However, both are facing the wrath of India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) over a clutch of disproportionate assets and corruption cases.
To understand this odd political situation, let’s dial back to Modi’s extraordinary victory in 2014. He (along with a couple of loyal allies like Shiv Sena and TDP) had maxed his score in 12 large states of India – let’s call them the “Modi Dozen” – namely, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Punjab, Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam, Karnataka and Seemandhra. Out of 283 Lok Sabha seats, Modi got 227 – a strike rate of 80 percent – having won four out of every five seats fought in these 12 states.
But the political gale of 2014 is ebbing, even reversing, quite discernibly in these “Modi Dozen” states. From the Gujarat scare in December 2017, to the rout in Ratlam, Chitrakoot and local polls in Madhya Pradesh, to the debacle in Punjab and Gurdaspur, to the reverses in University elections in Delhi, Varanasi, Guwahati and Jaipur, and the ultimate annihilation in the Rajasthan by-elections in Ajmer and Alwar, the voter mood is no longer “rah-rah Modi”.
At best, this can be termed even-steven, and will not be surprising if the 283 seats in the “Modi Dozen” states are sliced close to half, with BJP/NDA picking up 140-150 (minus approximately 80 seats from 2014) and the Congress/UPA upping their tally to 120-130, scooping up an additional 70-odd seats.
With the NDA already down to about 260 seats and the UPA up at 150 after these “Modi Dozen” states are counted, adding Mamata Banerjee’s near sweep in West Bengal, DMK’s expected resurgence in Tamil Nadu, and KCR’s/BJD’s holding reasonable ground in Telangana and Orissa, could pull up the potentially “pro-UPA and anti-Modi” seat count to 200.
With this, the 2019 race is elementally stripped down to UP, since in the 260-seat NDA tally – after the “Modi Dozen” states have been counted – there are 73 NDA seats from UP, making it the elephant in the room.
So the arithmetic in UP is sharp and drawn in blood. If Mayawati signs up with Congress and Samajwadi Party in a pre-poll alliance, BJP’s seat tally could crash to less than or about 30 in UP, opening a 43-point gash in its 2014 mandate.
If UP does see an unprecedented one-on-one contest between NDA and a freshly minted Mayawati, SP and Congress alliance, NDA’s country-wide tally could drop to 200-220 (BJP alone could fall to 170-200), putting the UPA, Trinamool and DMK within striking distance of the majority mark of 272 in the Lok Sabha in 2019.
The arithmetic may be irrefutable, but Mayawati is not. She is unpredictable. Remember what happened on 17 April 1999? She committed to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the morning that she would support him against the no-confidence motion in Lok Sabha. But just a few hours out, on the floor of the house, she did an audacious political somersault and voted against the government.
How, then, do you fathom the mind of a nondescript school teacher who became the first Dalit woman chief minister of India’s largest state?
(This article is being republished in light of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) deciding to not field candidates in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh bypolls and extending support to the Samajwadi Party. The article was originally published on 16 February 2018.)