Nice question. Can anyone predict this? No. But it is a fun topic to explore nevertheless.
Right now, there are three major groupings for the 2009 Lok Sabha Elections: They are the UPA (United Progressive Alliance), NDA (National Democratic Alliance) and the so-called Third Front.
Major parties in the UPA include the Indian National Congress, Lalu Prasad Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal RJD, SHarad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP).
In the NDA, the main party are the Bhartiya Janata Party, Shiv Sena, Janata Dal (United), Akali Dal, and Indian National Lok Dal (INLD).
The Third Front (that’s not an official name yet) has a number of small parties such as the Telegu Desam party (TDP), janata Dal Secular (JD-S), Revutionary Socialist Party RSP – all propped up by the Communist party of India ( Marxist) or CPI-M and the Communist Party of India, CPI. Yes, they are part of the Third Front too.
So who has a chance to emerge winner after the 2009 Elections?
To tell it like it is, it could be anyone. The NDA or the UPA may emerge the front-runner with a majority, or just a front-runner who is not an outright winner and who needs the support of other parties from either the other formation, or from independent parties like the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi party.
The national media seems to think there is a good chance for this, but media often gets carried away by the general mood in Delhi, and by the latest state election results. In the recent state elections, Congress did better than many expected, and in this line of thought, they would continue the winning streak alongwith other partners in the UPA, and will be able to scrape through with a simple majority.
This is also possible, if the recent state elections are an aberration, and BJP really hasn’t been as badly damaged as many seem to think. Overall, the party seems to be opposing the UPA for opposition’s sake, and often is caught between different ideas on the image of the party it should project. There are those who would like to proejct a hard Hindutva, then the soft-Hindutva proponents and then the ones who don’t care either way as long as they can win. Some think Advani is a winner, some think the party would get a clean sweep only if Narendra Modi was the PM candidate. But in the event of NDA emerging winner with a simple majority in the Lok Sabha elections, very little scope for confusion afterwards.
Unlikely. Very. The Communist Parties are set to lose a large number of seats in their strongholds in West Bengal and Kerala, and the others do not have enough seats to become winners by themselves.
Ah. All hell breaks loose.
Now, everything is fair game. Assume it is the UPA which has won more seats than other formations. But no simple majority, and no one wants to come to power as a minority government. If UPA looks like a winner, the Samajwadi Party would throw their lot in with the UPA – after extracting assurances of their pound of flesh, of course. UPA-and SP would come to some kind of compromise for sure. The BSP is also another candidate. If Mayavati thinks that the BSP has no chance at all, she would decide to support the UPA too, either from outside, or by joining the UPA. The winner of more seats definitely has the advantage here. In case that does not happen, there is a good chance that some parties from the Third Front would break away and join the winning camp. Of course, if the NDA has also won seats pretty close in numbers to the UPA, they would also try to wean away parties from the Third Front and even the UPA.
And then there is BJD waiting outside to figure out who to support.
If it is NDA who wins more seats, they will have the advantage. The more extra seats than the UPA, the merrier. Third Front parties would extract something like the CMP out of the NDA to make sure their secular credentials are not compromised, and then plump for it.
If neithe rthe NDA or the UPA emerge likely winner with substantially more seats than the other, and the Third Front performs well, this is the horror scenario. At this point, if Mayavati has enough seats, expect her to make a claim for the Prime Minister’s seat. But any of the smaller parties could make a claim too. And there is no shortage of candidates in the Third Front. It is unlikely that the major parties in the UPA or NDA would support the Third Front – their non-performance would damage their reputation and almostly certainly ruin their chances in the inevitable re-election. But the smaller parties in either NDA or UPA would have no such qualms. But if this happens, then there is a good chance of a totally unexpected Prime Minister ruling the country.
Scenarios 1 to 4 are more likely, of course.
If the NDA is the clear winner, the PM would obviously be LK Advani. But he is old. If he becomes the PM, there is a good chance that he might be indisposed anytime, and then there would be a mad scramble for the post of PM among the second-rung leaders in the BJP. Expect Narendra Modi would be a serious candidate then. Voting the Advani and the NDA might actually be voting for Narendra Modi. If you have a problem with him, watch it!
In the same manner, voting for the UPA would be voting for Manmohan Singh, or Rahul Gandhi. There is a major movement within the Congress which wants the Gandhi scion as the leader of the party, and expect those noises to get louder if the UPA emerges a clear winner. Manmohan Singh too is ageing, and as he himself would know, is hardly a popular leader. While Pranab Mukherjee or Chindambaram are super-efficient ministers, we are talking about the Congress where only loyalty and family matters.
All in all, anything could happen, guys. Remember this though – we are soon going to see a Rahul Gandhi vs Narendra Modi battle. Congress would be a single unit under Rahul Gandhi for sure – it comes naturally to them. But Narendra Modi has enough enemies within and without to make life difficult for him. That is another battle sure to commence a few years from now – and the winner may decide the future course of the country!