The state of the nation today and the mis-governance by the UPA in the last ten years means that this is the best chance for the NDA (no one party is going to get a majority) to come to power in the 2014 elections. If the NDA does not win this time, it will only have itself to blame.
The BJP has anointed Modi as it’s Prime Ministerial candidate. On the face of it their calculations seem sound. There is a hype around Modi (even if it is only mainly in the educated middle class), he is a superb orator, good organiser, he has charisma and a track record of winning elections. He is positioning himself on the development plank (Vikas Purush [Development Man]).
I think that the chances of the NDA will actually reduce with Modi being propelled to the forefront of the party. Some of the reasons I feel thus are as under
- Modi is a divisive / polarising force. He is also very clearly not in the ‘first-amongst-equals’ school of thought; when he is the top man, there can be no other contenders. That is NOT how the BJP is traditionally managed. It has been one of the most decentralised body in history of political parties in India. The BJP has a number of heavy weights – sitting Chief Ministers (Raman Singh, Shivraj Chouhan), regional satraps (Vasundhara Scindia) and national leaders (Sushama Swaraj, Arun Jaitley). None of these chaps are going to be remotely pleased to have been elbowed aside. Let us not forget that these leaders were all jointly in the second line of command when Vajpayee was the PM. It is true that only one of them could have made it to the top. However, in the normal scheme of things with the BJP, those who did not make it would have had a role to play. Not any more. Not with Modi. They are not going to be too keen to see him succeed because that will mean the virtual end of their careers. Which means they will not whole heartedly support him. Which lowers the chances of the BJP in areas that these leaders control.
- Some allies will distance themselves, as Nitish Kumar has done. If the BJP second level is finding it difficult to deal with Modi, what will be the fate of the allies? They will do the maths and separate from the BJP on some other ground. Nitish is a big presence in a key state as is Jayalalitha in Tamil Nadu and Naveen Patnaik in Odisha. The BJP cannot do without allies (not saying that they will part ways just making a point that allies remain important)
- The UPA is going to get an escape valve. It can clearly redirect attention away from all the critical issues like corruption, security of women, sluggish growth, governance failures etc by raising the spectre of communalism. Modi may not speak about 2002 riots but sure as hell everyone else is going to. Plus with Modi as the campaign face, all sorts of fanatics will come out of the woodwork and make outrageous claims / demands. Fanatics on both sides. This will help the non-BJP case more; hardly any one is going to be pushed to the NDA side on grounds of religion; fence sitters may get pushed away though.
To conclude, I think appointing Modi as the PM candidate reduces the chances of the NDA coming to power.
I think that the BJP top brass has itself succumbed to the hype and chatter around Modi; most of it generated by the man himself (all that non-sense about challenging the PM in the August 15 speech etc). Pressure from the cadres and RSS may not have helped.
I think that putting Sushama Swaraj (or Arun Jaitely) as the candidate would have enabled them to have a mukhavata (mask) that they have always used. With Modi, the face is naked and not all that a pretty sight to many.