BARGAIN TIME

Veteran politician Sharad Pawar just did the unthinkable. He gave a clean chit to Modi in Rafale deal. But Shivsena calls Rafale “father of the Bofors”. So are they going to switch sides? But there is more. Mayawati announces to contest all the seats in MP independently which will clearly damage the chances of Congress returning to power riding on an anti-incumbency wave. And why is KCR praising Modi and calling Rahul Gandhi a buffoon? Naveen babu is going soft on NDA supporting its candidate for vice chairman of Rajya Sabha and interestingly ‘rebellious’ Jay Panda is yet to be inducted in the saffron fold.

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All of them are up to one thing –bargain. For Mayawati, its once in a lifetime opportunity- to be the queen. The third front comes to power and she becomes the Prime Minister, more importantly, the unanimous leader of all Dalits for once and all. But for that, she, of course, requires a greater number of seats in the lower house. So she seeks a “package deal”-  Lok Sabha seats in all the states in which she supports Congress in assembly elections.

Pawar is a more seasoned politician. He wants to appease both Modi and opposition. So that in case of a hung house, he is favorite of both the sides. And the ever confused Thakrey is doing one thing he is good at- giving empty threats and trying to take revenge for the treatment he received at the hands of Modi-Shah duo.

For satraps like KCR and Patnayak, it is a simple thing- Modi may need their support for continuing in 7RCR. This means he owes them some favors- special packages, accountability cases and even support of BJP in local assemblies.

Now in the other end, there are Gandhis who are willing to pay any price to keep Modi out of power, for he is the first one in the history of Indian politics who has tried to eliminate Congress permanently. So Mayawati may get what she wants and if the situation arises, Congress party may support any leader from regional parties.

 

But saffron camp is less compelled a bit. Modi is the only pan India mass leader. They are hopeful that with support from parties like YSRC, ADMK, TRS, and BJD they may return to power. And unlike Congress, BJP has a leader who can change the game at last moment as he has done in Gujarat and Karnataka. So Shiv Sena will not be offered more than it got in the previous election and JDU will no longer be the elder brother in Bihar. In states like Odisha and Tamil Nadu, the party will contest all the seats and be prepared for a post-poll alliance if the need arises.

 

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THE SEMIFINALE

With or without a grand alliance, 2019 is going to be an interesting battle. But towards which side the battle is tilted will be clear by December when three states will go for elections.

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In all the states, Congress will be directly taking on the BJP. Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje of Rajasthan is highly unpopular and Sachin Pilot has delivered his promise of reviving the Congress. Rahul Gandhi has brought Ashok Gahlot and C P Joshi to Delhi thus consolidating the position of Pilot. So, even with Gulabchand Kataria, Kirori Lal Mina and Raje all working together, Rajasthan is a lost cause. Every election in Rajasthan has a slogan and much to the relief to Modi-Shah duo, this time people are swearing to destroy Raje but still vote for Modi in the general elections.

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Shivraj Singh Chouhan is one of the most charismatic chief ministers of BJP. The Vyapam Scam which led to ‘suicide’ of dozens has been unable to dent his image of an honest politician. Yet he is facing the wrath of the farmers among many factors which are reflecting in various opinion polls in which BJP is astonishingly lagging behind. Still, his only viable alternative Jyotiraditya Scindia has been pushed to the corner thanks to the new grown friendship of Digvijay Singh and Kamal Nath. So he may be able to pull it through.

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The third one is the tribal state of Chhattisgarh. Its Chief Minister Raman Singh is one of the most underrated players. Every one of the last three elections has been a close one and yet Raman Singh has won every time.

He has been successful in curbing the rise of other leaders like Saroj Pandey and senior leaders like Ramesh Bais have been sidelined. Congress, on the other hand, is facing the rebellion of its tribal face Ajit Jogi who has aligned with BSP to form a “formidable coalition” of Dalits and Adivasis which will clearly affect prospects of the grand old party.

The result of the latter two battles will clearly provide momentum either to the UPA or NDA. However, it is worth mentioning that in spite of winning all these states Vajpayee lost the elections in 2004. It would be interesting to see whether the fate of “New India” is different from “Shining India”. The game is on!