Come 2019, Modi will have too many rivals for PM post

(Dr Pentapati Pullarao*)

175  years ago famous French Economist Pierre Joseph Proudhon wrote :  “Unpredictability is very very fertile “. He meant  the future is totally unpredictable and therefore  to predict the results of the 2019 Lok Sabha  election is unwise .But we can always  estimate certain possibilities .  There is a general opinion in the country that the BJP will not to get a majority in 2019.  If that happens, there are new possibilities and  ambitions of politicians   get exposed.

The First scenario is that the  BJP gets a good number of MPs, say at least above  225 MPs, then it can find new partners  and make a coalition government.

The Second scenario is  if the BJP gets 200  MPs and allies are not willing to agree to Narendra Modi’s leadership , then a new acceptable BJP leader can emerge.

The Third scenario is that BJP gets less than 200 MPs and the regional parties do well and claim the prime Minister’s job for Mamta Banerjee or someone  acceptable to all.

The Fourth scenario is of course if Congress gets a very big number of MPs, then morally the Regional parties  can support Congress.

Of course, there are hundreds of possibilities which can  emerge. But generally it is highly probable one of the above  variation  options will emerge. If the BJP was popular  and there was no doubt that Narendra  Modi will win the  2019 elections, then all other options  are  not relevant.  There are 3 major electoral tests  coming up in November, 2018 in the state elections to  Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. All these 3 are held by BJP and there is long -term anti- incumbency in each of these 3 states.

If the BJP wins at least  2 of these 3 States, then again Narendra Modi’s graph will rise  dramatically. In the meantime, a lot of politicians  are harboring  ambitions of becoming prime minister.  The important rule in politics  is that anything  can happen. There is no way  that election can become predictable unless  there is total rigging. Moreover, in all Indian elections, generally in the last   40 years, there have been surprises in every Parliament election .

Surprising election  results since 1971 :

In 1971  general elections, no one expected Indira Gandhi to win a big victory and she did. In 1977, once again, no one expected Indira Gandhi to lose  and she did. Strangely Morarji Desai at the age of 84 became the prime minister in 1977.

In 1980, no one again  expected that within 3 years Indira Gandhi would again become prime minister. But she did  .Then again, in 1984, due to the un-expected assassination of Indira  Gandhi,  Rajiv Gandhi became  Prime Minister  which was also totally un-expected. After Rajiv  Gandhi became Prime Minister , as he was young and smart , politicians  thought that he  will rule for 20 years. But by 1989, Rajiv Gandhi lost and his own Finance Minister V.P. Singh resigned from his government and defeated the Congress in 1989 .

No one ever expected that V.P. Singh will become Prime Minister or Chandra Sekhar will become prime ministers. But they did. General elections were held in May, 1991.  Rajiv Gandhi was sure he would again become prime minister. The un-expected happened and Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by the LTTE of Sri Lanka . So Rajiv Gandhi  died  and instead P.V. Narasimha Rao  became Prime minister in June, 1991.  Narasimha Rao did not even contest the Lok Sabha  elections. Yet fate made him Prime minister .

P.V. Narasimha Rao failed to win the  1996 elections and so  a compromise candidate Deve Gowda of Janata  Dal  became  prime Minister. Deve Gowda was Chief Minister  of Karnataka at that time and it was a total surprise  he became the prime minister.

The BJP had won only 2 MPs in 1985. But  here again, unexpectedly the BJP leader Atal behari  Vajapyee formed the government in 1998 and 1999 and ruled till 2004.    The propaganda machine of BJP  was so active that the BJP was sure  of victory in 2004  that it expelled its allies as it did not want  to share any seats with them. The BJP leaders were making loud noises that it will win 300 MPs .But the BJP lost miserably . After defeat, Vajpayee said : “ How did I believe the flatterers who said that we would win  300 MPs ?

The defeat of  over-confident Vajpayee led to the surprise appointment of Dr.Manmohan Singh as prime Minister. Manmohan Singh was a non-politician and he  became Prime minister in 2004 and 2009.

In 2014, there were certain that somehow Rahul Gandhi would become Prime minister. The  confidence was that even if Congress got 125 MPs, it can manage a coalition.  Such was their ambition that Andhra Pradesh was divided abruptly, so that the Congress  would sweep Telengana,. That sweep in Telengana did not take place and the BJP under Narendra Modi’s leadership got 274 MPs on its own. This was the biggest surprise  of all .

From 1971, there have been 12 parliament elections and each time there has been a surprise . So definitely I can say that even in 2019,there will be a big  surprise .  If Modi  does not form the  government, many options come out.

Secret ambitions :

Sharad  Pawar, Deve Gowda, Mamta  Banerjee and regional party heads are all hopeful that they will become  prime minister. Though senior leaders  like Sharad Pawar deny such ambitions , they are very ambitious. Sharad  Pawar and Deve Gowda’s strategy  is to  keep saying there should be opposition unity and they have no ambition.  In this way , Sharad Pawar and Deve Gowda get respect from everyone.

The idea is to ensure there are too many claimants. Then either Deve  Gowda or Sharad  Pawar will be asked to be a  compromise candidate.  Gowda and Pawar cleverly  encourage everyone to become prime minister,  so that there is a big fight and they can jump in.

Mamta Banerjee, Mayavathi, Chandra Babu Naidu ,Naveen Patnaik  and TRS  Chandra Sekhar Rao  are all  hopefuls. They might say they have no ambition and how they are very simple people only wanting to serve their states. But secretly , they want to be Prime Minister and love it when their supporters make such demands.

Silent BJP aspirants :   There are ambitious silent leaders in the  BJP. Transport  Nitin Gadkhari of the  BJP  is  nurturing big ambitions . He had networked with all state Chief Ministers and unlike Modi got a very good rapport with all of them by obliging them with massive funds. He is using the BJP government to project himself . Frequently, as if he is a   very humble man,  Gadkhari  says he has no ambition to be Prime Minister.  But Gadkhari has  big hopes that Narendra Modi will fail and he will become the compromise candidate.

In the BJP, there are ever-ready clever leaders like Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj and Madhya Pradesh  Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan . If Narendra Modi fails , their ambitions will flare up like a petrol started fire .BJP leaders are hiding their naked ambition as they are terrified of  Narendra Modi and Amit Shah . The old leaders Murli manohar Joshi and L.K. Advani are also ready  to become prime minister.

In the old days, India had Swayamvaras, where the woman would go around and choose the bridegroom. But in present India, when you want to become Prime Minister , you must attend the Swayamvara  and yet say you are not interested.

The only sad thing  is that all of these leaders have been enjoying public office for 40 years and all their living expenses are borne by the public. But they keep saying they are making sacrifices. Can you name any of these leader who has recently done any permanent good for India ?


*Dr Pullarao is  a noted economist