It was NaMo NaMo all over media (print / social) from mid June to mid Dec.2013 after he was declared as BJP Election Campaign Chief and later Prime Minister Candidate. Modi took the Indian political landscape by storm, posters, cut-outs, hi-tech rallies, big turnouts (>1 lakh), most favored PM candidate in surveys by miles. Even the stock markets did better despite weakening economic fundamentals. Big investments banks and brokerage houses like Goldman, CLSA etc. backed him to take India / markets to new heights. The non-resident Indian community also backed him to the hilt. He made the Congress nervous, infact resigned to its fate.
The advent of aam aadmi Arvind Kejriwal as Chief Minister of Delhi somewhat diminished this euphoria. The party led by Kejriwal formed a year ago caught the imagination of voters in Delhi through its anti-corruption crusade and innovative campaigning. The party proved all pundits wrong and got the second highest number of seats (28) in Delhi. They formed the government with the support of Congress against whom they fought tooth & nail. This was questioned by many including some followers / supporters. Party run a sms campaign and claimed that majority wanted it to form govt.
Now Kejriwal, AAP, his sincerity, honesty, refusing to take security, his illness – everything he did from waking up till he goes to bed was on TV. Print media / TV / social media was swamped with Kejriwal’s and AAP’s stories. Modi who was leading the TRP’s almost was non-existent for two months from Dec. end 2013 to Feb. end 2014. Urban middle class which seemed to be fascinated by Modi and his pro-development image seemed to be in two minds – whether to vote for Modi or AAP. Some surveys in metros clearly showed AAP catching up with BJP. Media seemed to be playing up Modi vs Kejriwal fight for the top post. Then lightning struck AAP. AAP resigned from govt. as their pet bill Janlokpal got defeated in assembly. Real reason they wanted to try their luck for Lok Sabha elections. This decision snapped even the hardcore supporters of AAP. Kejri after becoming CM wanted to try his hand at PM. Every poll suggesting a hung Parliament he dreamt of a situation like Delhi happening in Lok Sabha and Congress propping him as PM.
Please read post on why Kejriwal resigned as Delhi CM? http://politicalbaaba.wordpress.com/2014/02/15/kejriwal-resigns-delhi-its-people-lose/
This brings us to the moot question – Whether Kejriwal will dent Modi’ chances of becoming PM?
BJP seems to have not learnt from its lessons. Leaders still saying AAP will damage Congress and BJP shouldn’t be overly worried. Currently Congress has 206, NDA 131 & Others 206 seats in Lok Sabha. If BJP has to form government it needs minimum 80-100 more seats (rest from others as allies). So where will they get the balance from? They would have to snatch if from Cong / Others. Now there is a new claimant – AAP. Whatever seats AAP will then get will actually be a dent in BJP’s fortunes and not Congress which anyways seems to have lost the plot. RSS and BJP top brass in hush hush tone now seem to have realized this point. The party seems to be devising strategies on how to counter AAP. Modi’s attack on Kejriwal in Kashmir, the AK 49 and Congress B team jibes were part of this strategy.
How much damage AAP could do?
This is a point of intense debate. One section feels they can’t win more >5-10 seats, another section feels it could win 20-30 seats. Whatever the outcome they cannot be taken lightly as the Delhi elections have shown? They are capable of springing surprises. Politicalbaaba projects 11 seats for AAP.
Voter base of AAP is in mostly metros and cities. They intend to fight 400-450 out of which 200 odd seats are in urban areas (a Mint report states that actually this number is much smaller at 53). Urban areas, where middle class population lives, is also the strength of BJP. This is where it could damage BJP. AAP could do well in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chandigarh etc. Plus Kejriwal has challenged Modi in Varanasi.
What are the weaknesses of AAP?
(i) One man dependency: The party is heavily dependent on Kejriwal. Think tank Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan do not have a mass base. It will be difficult for Kejriwal to do a focused whirlwind tour of 400/450 seats as he did in Delhi.
(ii) Funding: The party requires ~ Rs. 1200-1350 crores for the seats it wants to fight (for 70 seats which is 7 Lok Sabha seats it required 20 crores,~Rs. 3 crores per seat). This is a humongous amount for a party which is funded by aam aadmi.
(iii) Door to door campaigning: The party focused on this method in Delhi state assembly elections, it will be difficult to replicate the same in 400/450 Lok Sabha constituencies. ~2.5 lakh volunteers campaigned for the party in Delhi. For 400 seats it would require ~1 crore volunteers. This is a huge no.
Silver Lining for BJP
The saving grace for BJP is that 2 states where it is banking on namely UP & Bihar (120 seats / 543 seats), APP will not be able to make any severe impact. These states vote on the basis of caste and Modi belonging to Other Backward Caste (OBC) community will come into play here. Plus AAP seems to have lost some support base after they resigned from Delhi govt.
Let’s wait and watch and enjoy the interesting fight! Only time will tell whether AAP will spoil Modi’s chances or nationa will go with a tried / tested and experienced leadership. Leadership which many feel (including AAP’s own survey in Delhi) is an agent of change……