The poll shows a huge rise in the NDA‘s vote share, which results in an even bigger gain in terms of seat count. While vote share is up from 26 percent in 2009 to 36 percent for the NDA (with UPA's down from 36 percent to 22 percent), the NDA seat share will rise to a range of 217-237 (for UPA: 91-111).
If the latest Times Now-CVoter opinion poll is any indication, there is little doubt that Narendra Modi will be the next NDA-led coalition’s Prime Minister.
The poll shows a huge rise in the NDA’s vote share, which results in an even bigger gain in terms of seat count. While vote share is up from 26 percent in 2009 to 36 percent for the NDA (with UPA’s down from 36 percent to 22 percent), the NDA seat share will rise to a range of 217-237 (for UPA: 91-111)– which means only around 50-60 seats will be required for the NDA to form a government. Little wonder Uncle Sam wants to kiss and make up with Modi.
The CVoter poll also gives a largish 42 percent vote share to “others” and 205-225 seats to this amorphous grouping, raising possibilities of a Third or Fourth Front being formed with Congress support. However, a closer reading of the poll results – assuming it holds till May – shows the exact opposite: there is almost no possibility of a Third or Fourth Front after the general elections, as we shall explain later.
The following are the key conclusions one can draw from the poll conducted in early February by CVoter.
#1: Since the Congress’s own seat count falls to a lifetime low of 89 and the BJP’s to a lifetime high of 202 – only the BJP is in a position to form a government with different combinations of potential allies. Since all fronts, NDA, UPA, and Third and Fourth, are products of the final numbers, the BJP is in pole position.
#2: The Third and Fourth Fronts are paper tigers, despite their large vote shares, because many important parties in this group called “others” cancel themselves out. The Left and Trinamool cannot coexist in any front, and the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) are snake and mongoose to one another. Nor is it possible for a Lalu Prasad or Nitish Kumar to sail in the same boat or serve in the same front.
#3: A Third Front with the Left in it will have a maximum of 128 seats – with not enough Congress seats (89) left to take it past the half-way mark. A Fourth Front with Trinamool in it will have even less than 128: only 87 seats. There will simply have to be too many outside parties supporting this combo to make it a realistic prospect.
#4: The only theoretically conceivable non-BJP combo could be one where the Congress forms UPA-3 and the weakest of coalitions with the bulk of the non-NDA parties supporting it from outside. But it is unlikely Sonia Gandhi will throw her son to the wolves in such a coalition. It is not impossible to envisage the return of Manmohan Singh or P Chidambaram or Sharad Pawar as possible PM candidates on the basis of least antagonism - but no one is betting this is possible.
#5: No Jaya, no Mamata, no Mulayam as PM. In the above scenario, it is highly inconceivable that the other contenders for prime ministership – J Jayalalithaa, Mamata Banerjee, Navin Patnaik, Nitish Kumar and Mulayam Singh Yadav – will even make it to the starting post. Nitish is forecast to be the biggest loser in this poll, with just about five seats to show (down from 20 now).
#6: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is given seven seats on the basis of an 8 percent vote share, which would make for an extremely good debut for a brand-new party. Most of this vote comes in Delhi and Haryana, with small amounts in other states. Arvind Kejriwal, with his antics in January, has surely driven away some of his votes.
#7: Far from regional parties squeezing the BJP out, especially in the south and east, the Modi effect in 2014 is squeezing out many regional parties even as it crushes the Congress. In Bihar (JDU), Haryana (INLD), Assam (AGP), Maharashtra (MNS, NCP), Karnataka (JDS), J&K (NC) and UP (SP and RLD), the BJP is cutting into regional parties, and denting the possibilities of even the stronger regional parties in other states. Trinamool, for example, rises from 19 to 24 seats – not enough to call the shots in the next government. The Left loses only one seat in Bengal. Trinamool thus gains at the expense of Congress. The BJP may be eating a part of Mamata’s vote. BJD in Odisha gets cut down from 14 to 12, which indicates that the BJP is eating into its votes (while Congress gains from six seats to seven).
#8: The BJP may well begin registering a larger presence in the southern states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, not with seats but vote share. This means the party will make for an attractive ally in the next elections all over the south and east. In Kerala, the BJP’s vote share is a healthy 16 percent and in West Bengal 14 percent.
#9: The only state in which regional parties are showing real growth is Andhra Pradesh, with three of them – the TRS, the TDP and the YSR Congress – look set to harvest 10-13 seats each. The Congress gets six and the BJP two (despite 11 percent vote share) – which again shows that BJP would have made a difference to any regional party allying with it.
#10: Delhi might yet vote more for the BJP than AAP – at least in the Lok Sabha polls. Vote shares break in the ratio of 43:34 in favour of the BJP, which means four seats out of seven in Delhi for the party. This is in line with the assembly poll results – where large segments of AAP voters said they also liked Modi. What all this proves is that Modi is making the BJP a truly national party in 2014. This will change the shape of national politics in the years to come.
The writer is editor-in-chief, digital and publishing, Network18 Group.