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400 + : PM Modi’s ambition to break the record of Congress

Analysis by senior journalist

Shripad Sabnis

The slogan ‘Ab Ki Baar, 400 Par’ (अब की बार, चारसौ पार) has started ringing in every corner of the country from the past few days. (PM Modi) It is constantly heard from the mouth of many people including Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, even the common BJP workers may not know why Narendra Modi has adopted this ‘400 par’ (400+ seats) slogan, so it becomes equally important to understand both the history behind this slogan and the current political situation. 

But looking at the history of Indian Lok Sabha elections, it was purely historical for a political party to win more than 400 seats. In the general elections of 1984, there was a huge wave of sympathy across the country for Rajiv Gandhi and Congress. In this wave of sympathy, Congress won 404 seats out of a total of 514. This became a historical record. There were also 3,791 independent candidates in this election.

Political analysts are making a logical arrangement that the record success of Congress on such a large scale was the result of the wave of sympathy caused by the assassination of Indira Gandhi. But one thing should be noted that in the 1984 general election, there were about 5,312 candidates from 1,244 national parties and 151 regional parties. Apart from this, 3,791 independent candidates participated in this election, out of which only 5 reached the Lok Sabha.

Congress 400+ in 1984

It was the only general election in the period 1984 to 2014 in which a political party won an undisputed clear majority. Not only this, but a single political party won more than 400 Lok Sabha seats. Rajiv Gandhi was elected as the Prime Minister. In 1952, the first Lok Sabha election was held Under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru. At that time, Congress had 364 out of 489 seats. In the second election held in 1957, Congress won 357 out of 494 seats. This record was broken by the Congress under the leadership of Rajiv Gandhi in 1984 and set a new high. Prime Minister Narendra Modi now wants to break this record. For that, he has given the slogan of ‘Ab Ki Bar, 4 Sou Par’. However, senior BJP leaders are confident that the BJP will win 370 seats.

One thing is true that the record of 404 seats in the 1984 elections was recorded only in the name of Congress. But even if BJP reaches the distance of ‘Ab Ki Bar, 4 Sou Par’, that record of Congress will not be broken. Because, this victory will not be of BJP or PM Modi’s leadership alone; So it will be of NDA.

BJP only 2 seats, out of 224

For the BJP, the 1984 election was the first general election. BJP was formed in 1980 after the split from Jana Sangh and the party got the election symbol of lotus. But the newly formed BJP could not make a significant impression in the first elections of 1984. BJP contested elections on 224 seats, but managed to win only two seats.

In the 2019 general elections, the BJP performed best in 58 Lok Sabha constituencies across 9 states and Union Territories. Those states were Gujarat, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Delhi, Chandigarh and Diu Daman. BJP’s vote percentage increased in these states. In some states, allied parties got support. But, because of these friendly parties,  has now become curious about how BJP Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘dream target’ of 400+ will be fulfilled. That is why it is necessary to take a look at the state wise performance of BJP in the last Lok Sabha elections.

There are some states in the country where BJP won 90% seats. This includes Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. BJP won 52 out of 54 seats here. BJP won 25 out of 28 seats in Karnataka. An independent candidate was supported by BJP. But, BJP has formed an alliance with Janata Dal (Secular) in Karnataka for the 2024 elections. So BJP can get seats here compared to 2019. The alliance with the Janata Dal (Secular) is going to put a lot of restrictions on the BJP here.

Prime Minister Modi’s ‘Dream Target’

In Maharashtra, Shiv Sena (Shinde group) and NCP (NCP) have formed the alliance of BJP (Ajit Pawar group). Now Amit Shah and (Raj Thackeray) Raj Thackeray tried to connect the engine of ‘MNS’ to these coaches. Will the grand alliance with the ‘MNS’, which has taken up the bow and arrow, fulfill Prime Minister Modi’s dream by winning 41 out of 48 seats? It has been curious.

In Uttar Pradesh, BJP won 62 out of 80 seats in the last election. Compared to 2014, last time BJP had to bear losses here. But, RLD has now joined the National Democratic Alliance (RLD). Therefore, there is a possibility of improving BJP’s performance. However, since RLD and Apna Dal will have to give seats, it is likely that BJP will contest in at least 76 seats here. Due to this BJP is losing four seats.

If the BJP wins all the seats in the states of Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, the BJP can increase by five seats compared to 2019. Whereas, in Assam, BJP contested 10 out of 14 seats and won nine seats. If this formula remains the same, there is a possibility that BJP will gain one seat from Assam. Of course, in some states BJP won seats by joining hands with local parties. It includes Maharashtra and Bihar. In 2019, BJP contested 25 seats and won 23 seats in Maharashtra. So, 17 out of 17 seats were won in Bihar. Almost half of the seats in these states were won by the Allies. These states have a total of 266 Lok Sabha seats. No matter how many clean sweeps the BJP makes, these seats can increase by a maximum of 25.

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On the other hand, West Bengal has 42 Lok Sabha seats and Odisha has 21 seats. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, BJP won 18 and 8 seats respectively. In both these states, BJP’s voters have increased. In West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee’s strategy may fall on BJP’s own path. So, the alliance with Naveen Patnaik in Odisha shows signs of limiting BJP’s personal gains.

A supportive environment for BJP

In 2019, BJP could not open its account in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. But, Telangana had gained 4 seats. But now the political trend in these states is somewhat favoring the BJP. Telugu Desam’s Chandrababu Naidu again joined the fold of ‘NDA’. Therefore, there are signs of creating a supportive environment for the BJP. There are 101 Lok Sabha seats in these four states, out of which the BJP aims to win 50 seats.

The BJP, which has taken small parties in Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh along with it, has formed an alliance with the PMK in Tamil Nadu this year and is preparing to enter the state with the support of the Vanniyar community. At the same time, the AIADMK, which remained a component party of the NDA, was shocked.

At least for now in Punjab, AAP and Congress are determined to fight separately. Hence, the division of opinion seems inevitable. This could benefit a possible alliance between Akali Dal and BJP. Punjab has 13 Lok Sabha seats, Manipur, Meghalaya and Goa 2 each, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim 1 each and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir 5 Lok Sabha seats. Puducherry, Ladakh, Andaman-Nicobar Islands, Dadra Nagar Haveli, Lakshadweep have 1 seat each. Out of these 32, BJP has only 7 MPs. Therefore, it is clear that BJP’s base is dependent on small states.

Against the backdrop of India’s overall social, geographical diversity and political environment, the BJP has become acutely aware of its limitations. Therefore, with the call of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’, like-minded and willing constituents of NDA have joined together to fulfill the resolution of (AbKi Bar, 400 Par) अब की बार, चारसौ पार !

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