— By Abhishek Chakraborty
In my previous post where I presented my analysis about NDA’s performance in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, 2019 in the Western India, where as things stands now, it is absolutely crucial for BJP to mend its ties with Sena, else the losses in the number of seats could be monumental even though NDA is still having an upper hand post victories in the Municipal Corporation elections in Sangli and Jalgaon. Coming to the next phase covering the South Indian states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra, Telangana and Karnataka and the union territories of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Puducherry and Lakshadweep Islands that account for 132 Lok Sabha seats.
During 2014 elections BJP led NDA could not make enough inroads in this part of the country except Karnataka despite having Modi wave. They could only manage 40 seats (22 for BJP, 16 for TDP, 1 for PMK and 1 for AINRC). With almost all of its 2014 partners ended up leaving NDA, it will be an uphill task for them to maintain those numbers or may be given the uncertainty in these states could even lead BJP to better its count.
To start with Karnataka that witnessed assembly elections a few months back and that also saw BJP emerging as the single largest party, falling short of majority only by a whisker. The events that unfolded afterwards was a mockery of popular verdict. Even though there are speculations that JDS-Congress government might be short-lived but as things stand now, one cannot rule out the possibility of a pre-poll tie up between them during 2019. The transfer of votes between these parties might not make BJP uncomfortable in many seats but it might see a further consolidation of some groups even further towards BJP like that of Lingayats. BJP still should be comfortable in at least 17-18 seats and can even increase their tally to 21. However if the alliance collapses, BJP should comfortably get 21-22 seats. Coming to the other states, BJP stands nowhere in these regions except a few seats. For instance in Kerala BJP can flex muscle in the Thiruvananthapuram seat, in Telangana it has chances in Secunderabad, in Tamil Nadu it can do well in Kaniyakumari and possibly win the lone seat of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
The situation is Tamil Nadu could however be interesting in the context of how different alliance blocks are created. Given the prevailing uncertainty in the state, there are too many contenders for the top spot, with each of them holding to either their regions or vote blocks. On one hand you have DMK that is out of power since 2011 and with the demise of Karunanidhi, it might face challenges to remain intact, on the hand the two parties formed from the erstwhile AIADMK (EPS-OPS and Dhinakaran) has further added to the uncertain environment. Both the national parties Congress and BJP have either no or limited polical clout in the state. Then there are the new parties from superstars Rajni and Kamal Hassan. To add to the uncertainty level further there is a list of smaller parties as well that holding on to their respective bases like PMK, MDMK, VCK, PT, TMC, NTK, Left parties etc. To comment anything on Tamil Nadu now, it will be extremely risky. But as it seems the potential tie ups could be BJP+EPS-OPS on one hand and DMK+INC+VCK+MMK+IUML+Left on the other hand.
In Telangana KCR is likely to sweep the state with 14 seats, AIMIM to win Hyderabad, BJP likely to win Secunderabad and Congress to win Nalgonda. A tactical understanding between BJP and KCR is also not ruled out.
Kerala will see a battle between Left and Congress, to which way it will swing depends upon what happens in the overall operations after the devastating floods.
Andhra is another interesting state given the current circumstances. With Babu throwing out BJP from the alliance and decided to go all alone might be risky given the anti-incumbency he is facing. But with a divided opposition in the form of YSRCP and Pawan, his competition is lowered.
So all in all BJP likely to get 22-23 seats in the region and unlikely to improve upon its situation as compared to 2014. But it is sure to get some alliance partners post 2019 elections.