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Small Beginning

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A recent international survey by ‘Morning Consult’, a ‘global decision intelligence company’, ranks Prime Minister Modi as the world’s most popular leader with 78 percent approval among those surveyed, much higher than any other leader. This makes it clear that India’s opposition parties don’t exactly have an easy job on their hands when it comes to defeating him in the coming general elections.

The proposed INDI Alliance was an attempt to make the contest a constituency based one, instead of the presidential kind, which the BJP would very much like. If it’s made to seem a pro or anti Modi choice for the people, there is no doubt about what the result would be. The recent assembly elections put a spoke in the wheel of the alliance, as regional parties realised that the ‘national’ component, the Congress, doesn’t really have much to contribute. So, many of them are charting their own course leaving the alliance business to post-poll arithmetic.

As the BJP juggernaut pushes on, some good news came for the opposition from Chandigarh with the joint candidate of the AAP and Congress for Mayor securing a win through the intervention of the Supreme Court. (There is no guarantee, though, that he will remain the mayor for long!) Possibly, this ‘victory’ has encouraged the AAP and Congress to contemplate seat sharing in Delhi, as also the Samajwadi Party and Congress in UP. It must be noted, however, that AAP and Congress are dividing seats in Delhi where they presently hold none. In the case of UP, in the 17 seats offered by the SP, the Congress had lost its security deposit in 12 during the previous elections.

It all has to do with vote-base compatibility. If the agreement is just to avoid splitting of what is normally a common base, the impact will not be as much as when a new vote-base is added. Ask Mayawati of the BSP, whose supporters dutifully vote for the chosen ally. On the other hand, the SP voters have consistently not done so. This is why the BSP-SP alliance was a one-sided one. On the other hand, BJP-BSP are compatible in this regard. This cannot be said for SP and Congress voters. Their choice in a situation where there is no candidate from their party cannot be predicted. The only advantage gained would be prevention of a split in Muslim voters, who have anyway already perfected the art of strategic voting.

It is a start, however, and there is still time for the elections. More such small adjustments may come about and not make the election as one-sided as is being thought.