BJP’s Game Plan For 2024 Takes No Chances

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP may look invincible in the run-up to the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. That too after one sees the opposition stumble increasingly in one crisis after another –whether it is the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal or the Congress in Karnataka.

But the party’s blueprint for winning the next parliamentary polls is taking no chances.

The BJP has charted a course of action that will strive to not just break the Opposition ranks but increase its vote share by wooing new sections of voters, consolidating its hold on the existing support base and improving its government’s delivery mechanism at the centre as well as in the states it is in power.

In fact, Modi has set new goal posts for the BJP. He asked its leaders to continuously reach out to hitherto unapproached sections of the society.

The idea is to focus on 200 seats that it did not win in 2019, of which 144 are in the south.

Also, the PM wants the BJP not to lose the advantage it got in 230 of the 303 seats that it won in the Lok Sabha with a vote share of greater than 50%.

In all, the BJP had won 303 seats in 2019, which was 21 seats more than what it had bagged in the 2014 general elections. Modi wants that, even in the seats that the BJP won, the party should deploy 30-member dedicated teams in each Lok Sabha constituency to target the booths that it lost in 2019.

It was in 2014 that, for the first time in 30 years, the people overwhelmingly handed a full mandate to any party. Undoubtedly, their vote was in favour of Modi to help his party secure a clear majority in the 543-member Lok Sabha.

For 2024, the BJP is looking at a target close to 400 seats for the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which it leads.

Modi’s special attention is towards the BJP nurturing a newly growing constituency of beneficiaries of several welfare schemes in all the BJP-ruled states. This approach had brought a rich haul of seats in the assembly elections of Uttar Pradesh this year. The BJP retained power under Yogi Adityanath who held sway over the “labharthis” as the beneficiaries are referred to in the current political lexicon.

Secondly, Modi has told BJP functionaries to focus on those states where the party faces an uphill task due to the regional parties– like in West Bengal where the Trinamool Congress, which had a mighty run in the 2021 assembly polls.

Of course, currently, the Trinamool Congress is facing a big internal crisis after Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s close associate Partha Banerjee has been caught in a scam involving the recruitment of 2000 school teachers who had to pay huge bribes to get their jobs.

The recovery of Rs 55 crore in cash has led to an open fight between the old guards like Partha Chatterjee and the younger leaders including Mamata’s nephew, Abhishek Banerjee, who is her political heir-in-waiting.

In 2019, the BJP managed to win 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats from the state but could not snatch power from the Trinamool Congress in 2021. But the cash-for-job scam, which has shocked the people, has put the BJP again in fast recovery mode.

The PM is convinced that a sustained focus on “dynastic ” politics of the ruling families whether in Bengal, Telangana or Tamil Nadu is bound to convince the voters to move away from them in 2024. The overall strategy of the BJP will be to look for weak spots in the base of the regional parties and work to take advantage by encouraging divisions and dissensions while wooing a new generation of voters.

Also, Modi has urged state units to woo backward communities among the Muslims in the North and the Christians in the South.

As BJP strategists recall, in the states where the BJP fought directly against regional parties, its success was 85%. It got 153 of the180 seats.
As such, the Hindi heartland comprising UP, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh, and Uttarakhand still remains the main thrust area of the BJP. The BJP’s hit rate took a beating only in non-Hindi states against regional parties.

Modi’s reading is that, if the 2014 win ended the coalition politics, the 2024 victory must mark the decline of the parties that thrive on dynasty, vote bank divide and corrupt practices. Therefore, the rest of India with nearly 200 seats also cannot be ignored.

Of these 144 Lok Sabha seats where its candidates lost to their nearest rivals in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP intends to prioritise its efforts. In the 2019 general elections, the BJP won only 29 of its 303 seats from the five southern states. The BJP won 25 seats from Karnataka.

However, Modi’s election managers say that the contrast between the BJP’s Mission 2024 and the Opposition’s ability to get its act together is striking.

Since it came to power in 2014, the BJP has won state elections, panchayat polls, and municipal elections, besides the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. In a sign of confusion in the opposition ranks, NDA candidate Droupadi Murmu defeated opposition candidate Yashwant Sinha in the Presidential elections. In the Vice-President elections too, the BJP has enough votes to ensure the win of its nominee Jagdeep Dhankar.

If the parliamentary elections are held today, according to the latest survey done by India TV-Matrize News Communication, the NDA can get 362 seats out of 543 Lok Sabha seats. Of which, the BJP could win 326. The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) is projected to win only 97 seats. The ‘others’ including small, regional parties and independents are projected to win 84 seats.

The survey says, the NDA is projected to get 41% votes, the UPA may get 28% and ‘Others’ 31 per cent votes if elections are held now.

In other words, the NDA is projected to sweep the polls in northern, western, central and north-eastern India, while regional and non-BJP parties will perform better in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. Modi stands tall scoring 48 per cent acceptance from the people, with other opposition leaders like Rahul Gandhi, Mamata Banerjee and others way behind.

In Uttar Pradesh, the NDA may win a whopping 76 out of 80 LS seats. The opposition is projected to win only two seats each. In Bihar, NDA may win 35 out of a total of 40 seats, and the UPA may win five seats. In Maharashtra, NDA may win 37 out of a total 48 LS seats, while non-BJP opposition may win the remaining 11 seats.

The ruling DMK-led UPA in Tamil Nadu is projected to win 38 out of a total of 39 seats, leaving the lone remaining seat to NDA. In LDF-ruled Kerala, the non-BJP opposition can sweep all the 20 seats in the state. In West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress is projected to win 26 out of a total of 42 seats, the survey says.

It was conducted by Matrize News between July 11 and 24 among 34 thousand respondents, which include nearly 20,000 males and 14,000 females.

(The author is a senior journalist and a well-known political commentator)

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