The fate of the Modi government may be decided earlier than scheduled, which may or may not be in favour of the ruling BJP. The Election Commission on Wednesday said that it will be logistically equipped to hold the Lok Sabha and the state assembly together in Sep 2018.
The Lok Sabha elections are scheduled to be held in 2019, while many states including Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram will be poll-bound by the end of next year. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also quite a few times suggested that both the polls be held simultaneously as it will be time saving as well as cost-effective.
Many times the EC holds these elections together for its convenience. It is also stated in the Constitution of the country that the Election Commission can hold ‘pre-election’ for its convenience. During the elections, a government machinery and a military force are required in order to keep the situation under control and avoid any type of violence and riots. In view of the prevailing situation, repeatedly calling the army for elections does not seem to be a wise decision. There is a lot of expenditure in the elections, and it keeps increasing as the number of elections increases in different states. The government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have many a time suggested the pre-elections.
Keeping in view all the citations, the EC on Wednesday launched a web-based application, the Electoral Registration Officer (ERO) network, aimed at efficient conduct of elections. The EC had earlier demanded the funds to purchase new EVMs and VVPAT machines to be able to hold the elections together.
As per the latest updates, the election commissioner OP Rawat informed that the EC had got Rs 3,400 crore for VVPAT machines and Rs 12,000 crore for EVMs. He said that after the funds were sanctioned by the Centre. The EC has already placed orders for the purchase of new EVMs and VVPAT (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail) machines. Rawat further said that the EC will be getting around 40 lakh VVPAT and will be well equipped by Sep 2018 to hold the Lok Sabha as well as the state Assembly polls together.
The VVPAT is a machine which dispenses a slip with the symbol of the party for which a person has voted. The slip drops into a box and this practice has only been used on a trial base in some places.
Rawat also gave further information about the web-based application launched by the EC. He said that all the officials involved in the election process, be it a booth level worker or a national level worker, everyone will be connected through the ERO network. He also added that the application can also be used by the users for online registrations. He said that through the ERO, it will easier to detect the duplicate registration of the voters.
The election commissioner, when questioned about the feasibility of e-voting, said that “this (ERO) and the electronically transmitted postal ballot for service voters are the first and second steps towards it (e-voting)”.
Now the question that arises is, that the election commision will be ready by 2018 Sep to hold the elections simultaneously, but is the government and the public ready for it?
Former President Pranab Mukherjee, to improve the electoral system in India had emphasised on the need to hold elections simultaneously across the country and the Prime Minister had also backed his idea.
To make the suggestion of holding the elections together get into actions all the political parties will have to give their consent. BJP along with many other parties supporting BJP are already supporting the simultaneous polls, now it all depends on the opposition, whether 2018 will decide the fate of the Modi government or not.
The term of the Legislative Assemblies of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram end in November-December 2018. Apart from this, the governments of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha are also going to end their term by April 2019, therefore it is being speculated that along with the Lok Sabha elections and the 4 states, even these three states may hold its assembly elections simultaneously.
If all the political parties agree to the proposal, it is being assumed that at least for the next 10 years many states will be holding the assembly elections along with the general elections.
BJP is keen on holding the pre-elections because, in the list of states that are to be poll-bound by April 2019, only Mizoram is one state that holds the opposition government and hence it is expecting the support from rest of the states. Another reason that can be assumed for the BJP backing pre-elections is, everyone is aware of the decreasing charisma of the Prime Minister. BJP is afraid that the prevailing problems of demonetisation, slowing economy, unemployment, farmers protest and the increasing inflation can be enough reason to pull down the Modi government.
People are slowly becoming aware of the failures of the Modi government and they are statrting to believe that Modi government is all talks and no actions. In such situation, the Prime Minister pressing for early elections is his compulsion or a masterstroke, only time will decide.
In view of the elections, the Modi government has also decided to make strategic changes in its functioning. A few weeks ago, in a report issued by the company Barclay India, it was revealed that the Modi government is now unlikely to focus on any significant improvement during the remaining time of its tenure. Though the government may try to publicize his accomplishments and impress the people by reducing the tax rates.
However, the results of the early elections may turn out to be in favour of the Modi government also. As, if the elections are rescheduled to be held in 2018, the opposition will be left with much less time to plan and act on the election strategy to gain back the power at the Centre. The results of the Gujarat assembly elections due in Dec this year may also prove to be a major deciding factor for the 2019 polls.
Though BJP has been ruling in Gujarat for 19 years, the recent situation of rising anti-incumbency may become the reason for the change in the party that rules the state after so many years. The recent developments in the state are an indication that the Patidars, OBC, Dalits and Muslims may join hands with Congress and extend their support to the party. If this happens the Gujarat Assembly elections will be a tough fight for BJP to win.
However, BJP is firm on painting the entire nation saffron and will be happy in achieving nothing less than victory. The BJP party President Amit Shah has taken up the task zealously to bloom the lotus in every state and by hook or crook is thriving hard to achieve the aim.
If seen from the other perspective, if the Lok Sabha elections are held in 2018, BJP may be on the winning side and gain benefits. Of the 4 states in which the assembly elections are proposed, 3 of the states have BJP government. If reviewing the current situations no political party seems to be strong enough to stand and win against BJP in these states. Chattisgarh which was once the stronghold of Congress is now a stronghold of BJP. Though the recent involvement of the name of BJP in Panama Papers and the growing rage among the tribals have reduced the popularity of Chief Minister Raman Singh, but his victory is being considered because there is no strong face to contest against him. During the 2014 polls, BJP had clean swiped Chattisgarh.
There is no doubt about the popularity of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, who has been in power since the last three times in Madhya Pradesh. Although the popularity f the government has become a bit grosser by being accused of being involved in the Vyam Scam, the opposition party failed to take advantage of it. There are two factions of the Congress in the state, one is led by Jyotiraditya Scindia while the second faction is headed by Digvijay Singh. Although, in the last few years, the influence of Scindia has increased in the state but he still does not stand anywhere against Shivraj Singh Chauhan. Out of the two seats won by Congress during the 2014 polls, Scindia had nailed down one seat.
While the politics in Rajasthan is just like the camel, which cannot be depicted that on which side will he sit? Both BJP and Congress are well aware of this situation but surprisingly none of the parties has taken any steps to make the situations in their favour. Though Vasundhara Raje has been the chief minister of the state for two consecutive terms before this, but the popularity of the current government is not giving any auspicious sign of the possibility of winning the next polls. Meanwhile, the possible chief ministerial candidate, current Congress President and Rahul Gandhi’s confidante, Sachin Pilot, has gained popularity among the youth and represent the Gujjar fraternity.
Although Sachin lost his Lok Sabha seat from Ajmer in the 2014 elections, but there has been no reduction in his popularity. Despite the defeat, he got more votes than the 2009 elections and the reason for his defeat was told to be the Modi wave. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, BJP had a clean sweep in Rajasthan. But the recent Gujjar reservation movement has made Sachin Pilot popular in Gujjars and it is possible that in the coming elections, the fraternity will vote in favour of Congress.
After all these arguments, one thing that is most important to mention is the ‘Modi wave’. Although the Opposition considers this fact to be baseless, in the last Lok Sabha elections its influence could be seen throughout the country. Most of the people just voted believing in the name and face of Modi and its effect could also be seen in the every assembly elections held after 2014. But the recent turn of events is also pointing towards the declining graph of the Modi wave.
The early elections may or may not be in the favour of BJP but if the Congress is hoping to nail it down in their favour it needs to start acting now. To begin with, the party needs to project an acceptable candidate, strong enough to contest against Modi. The next it should focus on is uniting all the anti-BJP parties a sone and plan a systematic election strategy and a well planned and extra effective campaign that could beat the Modi wave.