‘Is bar 400 par’- cross 400 seats, is the ambitious target set for NDA by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the coming poll for Lok Sabha in 2024.This number so far has been achieved by Congress party in 1984 under the leadership of Rajiv Gandhi when there was strong emotional wave in country following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her security staff.
This is certainly a big jump as it implies that BJP and its allies will have to win nearly all the seats in Hindi belt and improve its impressive record of seats won in 2019. It will also have to repeat its performance in Western States like Maharashtra where it has new partners like faction of Shiv Sena led by Shinde and NCP led by Ajit Pawar. It will have to find out how effective they are in fighting old leadership of Shiv Sena and Sharad Pawar, the founder of NCP.
In Bihar and Karnataka BJP has improved its position with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar coming back to NDA and its alliance with Janata Dal secular led by Deve Gowda family. In both the States, BJP will be hoping that voters will continue to vote differently in Assembly and Lok Sabha poll. In Bihar challenge will be from RJD and in Karnataka from Congress.
In U. P., which sends 80 members to the Lok Sabha, the highest by any State, it is hoping to make a clean sweep. Besides its old allies BJP is also negotiating with Lok Dal of Jayant Chaudhary to improve its position in Western U.P. Lok Dal who had allied with Samajwadi party is expected to switch sides. At Present they are evaluating offers from both sides.
BJP will also have to work hard to retain States of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. It is not in power in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. BJP also performed poorly in Punjab in 2019. At present it is negotiating with its old ally Akali Dal which had left NDA because of differences with ruling party during farmer’s agitation.
BJP is also working to improve its position in South by negotiating with Telugu Desam party of Chandrababu Naidu. In other States in South like Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Telangana, it will depend essentially on appeal of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as it has no large presence on ground or in State Assemblies. There is also a rising sentiment in south that it is not getting a fair deal in allocation of funds by Centre which may work against it.
BJP also hopes to improve its performance in East particularly in States like West Bengal and Assam. In this region it may be helped by the fact that Congress Party and Trinamool Congress have fallen out on the question of seats distribution and will be fighting against each other. This will be of help as minority vote which is high in case of West Bengal may get divided and give advantage to BJP.
Overall sentiment is also expected to work in favour of BJP and NDA as opposition party’s alliance INDIA has become a non starter with desertion of Nitish Kumar who had done initial work in formation of the alliance. In addition sharp differences have arisen between players like Congress, Aam Aadmi Party and Trinamool Congress. In U.P also not much progress has been made in seat allocation… So for all practical purposes it will be a fight between Congress and BJP in majority of States and between regional parties and BJP in rest.
The pollsters also predict with a perception going around that BJP will get majority and form Government after 2024 poll many that have not made up their mind may vote for BJP instead of wasting it.