New Delhi: Political parties, including the BJP, are agog with speculation that the parliamentary polls are likely to be preponed for November-December this year to coincide with assembly elections in five states—Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatishgarh, Telengana, and Mizoram.
The likelihood of an early national poll has been in the air for some time, but it was confined to a few in the ruling circle. It has now found traction in the Opposition camp after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar publicly aired their views on the matter.
Although no one knows the mind of the Prime Minister, there are reasons to believe that he may call for a snap poll ahead of schedule. The BJP is apparently rattled by widespread impression that it is losing its rule in Madhya Pradesh and was unlikely to make any gains in Chhatishgarh and Rajasthan . Telengana is anyway considered out of reach for the BJP. A section in the BJP is credited with the view that by clubbing the two elections, the party might find favour with voters because of what it considers an unchallenged situation in the Centre. If, on the other hand, the party performs dismally in the five state elections ahead of the parliamentary polls just a few months apart, this could have an adverse effect in the Lok Sabha elections.
The BJP is definitely watching with keen interest the developments in the Opposition’s INDIA grouping. The two meetings held in Patna and Bengaluru have given a shot in the arm of the Opposition. The third one in Mumbai shortly is expected to give a further boost to Opposition unity. Surely, this does not augur well for the ruling party. It is said by holding a snap poll, the ruling party may scuttle the chance for further consolidation in the Opposition ranks.
The Opposition grouping, no doubt, has much work to do before it gets ready to take on the BJP. The most difficult part of the job—seat adjustment—looms large. The Mumbai meeting is slated to discuss this issue and, who knows, a formulae is evolved to satisfaction of all participants.
By all indications, the INDIA grouping is determined to take the BJP head on . Party leaders are said to be willing to make compromises so that one-to-one contest takes place in maximum number of Lok Sabha seats. The word in Opposition circles is that they will reach agreement in at least two-thirds of the Lok Sabha seats. This will be a major achievement .
The ruling NDA has already gone on election mode. The government has begun to distribute largesse. It has just announced reduction in the price of cooking gas cylinder by Rs 200. More such acts are likely in the coming days. The BJP/RSS controlled trade union Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) has demanded a minimum pension of Rs 5000 for EPF subscribers. Apparently, the Government is said to be in a mood to oblige this time. The issue was raised several times in the past but was apparently held over for an opportune moment.
Even so, the mood of voters is a tricky affair. Unofficial word-of-mouth surveys said to have been done at the instance of those in power is not too encouraging, according to sources. It is another matter that a survey by a national news channel last week gave to NDA 306 Lok Sabha seats if elections are held now.
Much depends on how the INDIA grouping’s meeting progresses in Mumbai. If it forges ahead in terms of seat distribution and local adjustment, the ruling party may be under further pressure to act and firm up plans on elections. Nothing can be ruled out as of now.