A swing of 30 seats would spare us somersaults
The third stage of the campaign starts next week and
it is time to look at all the states to try and interpret events after the election is
over. Things are settling down and
the Bharatiya Janata Party agenda clearly returns to Hindutva from Sonia
Gandhi, and this coupled with
Kalyan Singh's move to drop the Ayodhya cases, marks the
end of a wider agenda as proposed by Atal
There are positives and negatives in each
situation and clearly the BJP move is to
protect its main votebank. The Congress continues
to consolidate under Sonia Gandhi
and the crowds clearly mean votes. The United Front
continues to make confusing music .
Delhi seems to be advantage
BJP, with the Congress ahead in Chandni Chowk
and offering stiff resistance in Karol Bagh and New
Delhi. The BJP seem to be cruising
ahead in South Delhi, Outer, Sadar, East Delhi. Karol
Bagh and New Delhi the edge seems to
be with the BJP.
The Congress in Himachal Pradesh will win
the assembly election comfortably and three
out of four seats in Parliment. The contest is in
Kangra and Shanta Kumar may
prevail. Kashmir and the National Conference should
walk away with
Anantnag, Baramullah, Ladakh and Srinagar while the
Congress struggles to retain Jammu.
The BJP in Udhampur also faces an uphill task.
The NC challenge is apparent in these seats
also but the BJP and the Congress may hold on by lower margins.
Haryana presents an interesting
battle with the Haryana Vikas Party-Bharatiya Janata Party combine under severe
pressure. The prohibition disaster and the sheer
failure to generate goodwill has seen Om Parkash
Chautala and the Haryana Lok Dal on the offensive
and the Tau dynasty is risking everything to
return to power.
The HLD seems to be
ahead in Kurukshetra, Sirsa
and Sonepat where former Union minister Selja has a very difficult task
to retain her seat. The Congress seems to
be ahead in Karnal with the unsinkable Bhajan Lal
and in Mahendergarh. The Rohtak seat is
a desperate battle between Bhupinder Hooda and Devi
Lal, and anything can happen.
A similar situation in Bhiwani where Surinder Singh
fights, and fights hard to retain his seat.
The BJP seems to be ahead in Ambala and in Faridabad
the contest is between the BJP and the
Congress. The Hissar seat seems secure with the HVP.
Haryana clearly shows the HLD
gaining. The Congress also gains while the HVP-BJP
combine is under pressure. I see the
HVP-BJP combine winning three seats, HLD four and
the Congress three.
The Punjab situation shows the
Akalis ahead, but with a reduced tally. The party
seems to be ahead in Bhatinda, Jalandhar, (I K Gujral), Ludhiana, Phillaur, Ropar, Sangrur and Tarn
Taran, but faces a very stiff fight in Faridkot
from Jagmeet Singh Brar and the Congress.
Brar has a great deal of fight in him, has performed
well, fights against odds,
and can pull it off! The BJP should win Hoshiarpur
and the Congress should win Patiala
with Amarinder Singh, Gurdaspur with Sukhbans Bhinder
and Amritsar with R L Bhatia.
Chandigarh seems to favour the BJP
but this is always a stiff fight.
Rajasthan is again closely contested,
and again Sonia Gandhi's meetings
cannot be ignored. The advantage with the Congress
rests in Alwar, Barmer, Bharatpur, Dausa with Rajesh
Pilot, Jodhpur, Pali, Salumber, Sikar
and Udaipur. The BJP is under
pressure in Banswada, Bayana, Churu and even in Tonk.
The BJP's tally of 15 can come
down and the honours may well be evenly split.
Pradesh the BJP will be under
pressure to retain the seats won earlier. Arjun
Singh, V C Shukla, Madhavrao Scindia, Kamal Nath and Motillal Vora
are all in the fray and on a winning
streak. In Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, the infighting
in the BJP can cost the party a great deal. Rajasthan Chief Minister Bhairon Singh Shekhawat is perhaps
the tallest leader the BJP has in the
state and without doubt the party may gain by this.
Western India again represents
an area where gains and losses will be
minimal. The Gujarat negotiations between Vaghela
and the Congress continue and this
may or may not succeed. As events stand the BJP has the upper hand and
L K Advani's decision to contest from Gandhinagar
may take care of the
infighting which afflicts the BJP.
has the advantage in Anand, Bhavnagar, Bulsar,
Chotta Udaipur, Dohad, Mandvi, Nadiad and Surendranagar while
Banaskantha, Baroda, Dhanduka, Kapadwanj and Sabarkanta
will witness keen
The Congress figure of eight in Gujarat can go up by a seat
The Maharashtra figures take into account
the show of solidarity by the
Congress leaders and the good work done by the Congress general secretary in charge of the state, Madhavrao Scindia. The agreement
between the Republican Party of India and the Samajwadi Party at minimal
cost to the Congress will benefit the
party. Sharad Pawar, S B Chavan,Vithal Gadgil, A R
Antulay and Shivraj Patil all working
under the same umbrella is a positive.
will be under pressure as the Shiv Sena
and the BJP lack neither talent nor charisma.
Pune will witness a keen
battle where Suresh Kalmadi will fight with his characteristic
vigour but he may had have
had a easier time as a BJP candidate. Kalyan Singh's recent
decision to withdraw the
Babri Masjid cases will affect Muslim votes
and this can cause problems in Bombay
and Pune which have a sizeable Muslim population.
The Goa election scene needs greater
analysis, but the Congress seem in a winning
Bihar and Uttar Pradesh present
the key to the BJP majority. In Bihar Laloo
Yadav and the Congress are on the defensive and there
are minor gains to the BJP-Samta
combine. In Uttar Pradesh, I cannot really see a
total BJP sweep. Mulayam Singh's seats
include Chandra Shekhar's Ballia seat; Ajit Singh's
Baghpat seat is added to the Congress tally while Maneka Gandhi's Pilibhit seat is indicated
under the BJP. I see the BSP getting
back to its original position and Kalyan Singh's Babri decision will polarise the
The BJP as before
emerges as the major party and with its allies should win
between 240 and 250 seats.
The Congress and its allies, with between 160 and 170
seats, will be the first target of the BJP. And while the Congress
with 150 seats plus may not split, there
may be problems with Laloo Yadav and his reduced
brigade of 15 members! The Asom Gana Parishad,
Left, Mulayam Singh, National Conference and the Tamil Maanila Congress are unlikely
to support the BJP, but what will the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Telugu Desam Party
The second scenario
is the Congress and the others
combining, but can anyone predict clear and selfless
actions from the same leaders who
guided the United Front? Can you think of any country
in the world where a minority
partner runs the government and hurls missiles at
the majority partner? Time clearly for
many things to become clear: Will Sonia Gandhi pursue
the Jain Commission report and
drive the DMK-TMC combine to the BJP? Will the leaders
of the United Front act like
We could also have a swing of 30 seats
either way and this will spare everyone
the need to take moral and ethical somersaults.
This week's forecast
||_||_||2 (Ar Cong)
15 (RJD + allies)
||2(HVP)||3||4 (BSP + HLD)
||3 (LK)||10||3 (JD)
||_||13 (Cong, allies)||7 (LDF)
||7 (AD)||3||1 (JD)
||10 (AIADMK)||_||28 (DMK-TMC)
||3||3||15 (Samajwadi) BSP (4)
BJP and allies: 196+53 = 249
Congress and allies: 163 + UF 116 = 279
Others (Haryana Lok Dal: 4 BSP: 4 Others 5)= 13