Why Nitish might have actually helped the BJP decide on its PM candidate
It's strange how Mamata Banerjee's rejection of Pranab Mukherjee played a key part in helping a confused Congress party get its act together and become more determined to have Pranabda occupy the Rashtrapati Bhawan. The BJP, interestingly, seems to be in a similar dilemma vis-à-vis its old ally, the JD-U. Time and again, Nitish Kumar has left no opportunity to deride the Gujarat CM, Narendra Modi.
But fortunately the BJP this time round seems to have woken up to the need to cut down the JD-U to size. The first indication of this came from the RSS chief himself who, in retaliation, virtually declared Modi to be the BJP's prime ministerial candidate.
It will be interesting to understand why the 'Modi for PM' clamour is growing by the day, despite the obvious hurdles that Modi will have to confront all along the way. The BJP's planning is based on a simple calculation: it needs 180 Lok Sabha seats under a more acceptable leader other than Modi. With Modi at the helm, it needs at least 200 seats on its own. Interestingly, as things stand today, strategists are more optimistic of BJP winning 200 under Modi than 20 less under any other leader. This simple calculation is what is making it seem more and more certain that Modi might actually be the man.
It's a huge gamble that BJP can ill afford to let go, considering that most regional parties invariably end up getting into some unholy deal with the UPA at the eleventh hour, leaving the BJP in the lurch. But the big question is, given the opposition to Modi across all parties, will even 200 MPs suffice?
It might if Jayalalitha, who is expected to sweep Tamil Nadu, backs him and he gets the support of smaller regional parties like SAD, the Shiv Sena (its present opposition though), the AGP and possibly the Biju Janata Dal & Jagan Reddy to back him. If that doesn't happen, the BJP without naming a PM candidate, is unlikely to cross 160 seats, making government formation anyway impossible.
Thus, BJP is in a Catch-22 situation and in a situation like this, a brave approach yields better results than a defensive one.
Of course for things to pan out as per the script, there are two things that Modi needs to ensure: one, a mammoth win in the Gujarat Assembly elections this year and two, a blueprint for his shift to national politics sometime immediately after. What that means is that Modi will have to look out for a stooge who can be the CM in his absence. For, Modi will need to spend about a year travelling across the country and talking exclusively about national issues rather than the ones concerning Gujarat in order to change the perception of him being a 'mere CM'.
An interesting thing to look out for in that situation will be the response from the Congress party. The Congress so far has been complacent, knowing perhaps the limitations of the BJP. With Modi at the national stage, the Congress too will have to devise an aggressive plan to combat him. That, definitely, will add more spice to the politics of the land.
Going by the way things stand at the moment, a Mahabharat of sorts seems inevitable in 2014!
More about Tuhin A SinhaTuhin A Sinha is among the best-selling authors in India, a columnist and a screenwriter. Starting in 2006 with his first book, That Thing Called Love, an unconventional romance set in a Mumbai monsoon, Tuhin has written five novels. They include The Captain (formerly 22 Yards), Of Love And Politics, The Edge of Desire and The Edge Of Power. Tuhin is acknowledged among the most prolific Indian writers with a maverick knack to experiment with new genres. While his first book was an offbeat romance, The Captain was a cricket thriller that explored the underbelly of modern cricket. Of Love And Politics was a political thriller. His last two books which comprise the Edge series can be called socio-political thrillers with a strong feminist skew. Tuhin is a screenwriter of several popular TV shows, the most noteworthy being Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai on Star Plus. Apart from his fiction novels and scripts, Tuhin is a keen political observer. His columns on Indian politics appear regularly in India’s leading dailies. Tuhin has a regular blog on ibnlive.com. He also appears frequently on news channels on discussions around politics and cricket.
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