Sunday, April 12, 2009

THE REAL IPL T20 IS ON IN UP! - 2

The first Star News-Nielson opinion poll had predicted a clear win for the UPA which was seen as getting 257 seats to the NDA's 184. The second poll, however, shows a trend in favour of the NDA, with the UPA still in the lead 203 to 191, and the Congress and the BJP separated by just eight seats, 155-147.

The recent Tytler fiasco in Delhi and the latest news that Gujjar leader Colonel Kirori Singh Bainsla has joined the BJP in Rajasthan and is likely to be fielded by the party as a candidate for the Lok Sabha elections, may make a significant impact on the outcome of the elections in Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and parts of Uttar Pradesh.

But, the most important tournament of this election, the Indian Political League (IPL) T20 tournament, is being played played in UP between four major players, the Congress, BJP, SP and BSP. As I had explained in detail in my previous post on the subject, although each team theoretically has 80 "overs" to play with and take home, the ferocious battle being fought out there in the final run-up to the grand finale on May 16, 2009, is for 20 "overs". These are the ones that will most likely decide as to who will get that Big Trophy in Delhi. A gain/loss of 20 seats over what each party had got during the last elections, is going to prove critical in deciding the next occupant of the Prime Minister's chair.

To most analysts and pollsters, the decision of the Congress party to fight the elections alone and not in alliance with the SP seemed to be a mistake that the party should have avoided. I was one of the very few who had been arguing for a long time that only the SP would benefit from that alliance and that the Congress had to begin its revival in the state not by aligning with but by taking on the weaker of its two opponents who had taken away its voters.

An internal survey carried out by the BJP in UP shows that the Congress is actually benefitting in the state at the expense of the SP. In fact, as per GVL Narasinmha Rao, whose team carried out the survey, it may get even 15 seats, up from the nine it got last time. This is in stark contrasts to most opinion polls who have been projecting a drop in the number of its seats to as low as two. The latest Star News poll also shows the party getting just seven seats. When the internal survey of your key opponent shows you doing so much better than pollsters are predicting, there is little reason to doubt it.

If anything, the Congress might actually be poised to get more than 15 seats that the BJP's survey shows. The other significant trend shown by this survey is that the the BJP alone might notch up between 22 and 25 seats as against 10 that it won in 2004.

These findings, if correct, are extremely critical for two reasons. First, this leaves only around 40 seats in UP for the BSP and the SP. This means that both Mayawati and Mulayam are going to be in no position to either stake a clam for the post of PM should there be a hung Parliament or exercise the kind of veto power they are looking for in a supporting role, the kind that the Left enjoyed in the previous government.

Mayawati and Mulayam Yadav have lost this T20 tournament. There is no way that the BSP can get 20 seats more than the 19 it had last time, to emerge as the single largest party by far in the Lok Sabha after the Congress and the BJP. Similarly, the tally of the SP is going to fall sharply from the 36 that it had secured in 2004. It may even be down to half its strength.

The Congress is seen getting eight extra seats. Can the Congress exploit the Kalyan Singh generated anti-SP sentiment of the Muslims to woo more of them so that it can get close to 20 extra seats? The anachronistic manifesto released by the SP today talks of doing away with computers, English schools, farm equipment etc and promises to take the country back to 1947. That is surely something the Congress can use to scare voters away from the SP and to it.

The BJP, with 12 to 15 extra seats already apparently secured, seems best poised to get those 20 extra seats and win 30 on its own. If it does that, then not only will it comfortably overtake the Congress as the single largest party but it will also take the tally of the NDA well past the UPA and within striking distance of the magical number 272. The trend is already its friend.

The IPL T20 tournament in UP is nearing its climax. The final match is going to be clearly played between the two national parties, and both are showing signs of resurgence in the state. The one who can strain enough in the next few days to get around 20 extra seats will be the winner. Otherwise, it might well be a tie. The victor will then be decided by a post-poll "bowl out" that will undoubtedly see the worst kind of horse trading. Nobody outside the political arena wants that.

UPDATE 10:00 PM April 14

NDTV's opinion poll on UP has just been telecast. It is dramatically different! 40 seats to Mayawati, 20 to Mulayam, 12 to BJP and 8 to Congress! No one, it seems, has any accurate idea of how the people of UP are going to vote. NDTV's Rahul worship was in full display even here. Though the poll was about UP, there were three polls about Rahul alone! First was whether Rahul can revive the Congress in UP. 70% said "Yes". On a different question about the most popular leaders in the state, Mayawati was first, Mulayam second and Rajnath Singh third. Rahul was nowhere in picture. Despite that and despite the virtual decimation of the Congress there despite Rahul's efforts for seven years, he was voted as the hope of the Congress for UP. I don't know what to make of it.

The second question was whether Rahul will become PM one day. If I recall correctly, around 78% said "Yes". The third question, hold your breath, was whether he is ready to be PM now. 52% said "Yes"! Why was that question asked in the first place? Are we heading for a Kashmir type surprise should the Congress come to power?

Even DD was never so sycophantic! So much for a free and honest media. These guys seem to have no qualms!
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1. The real IPL T20 is on in UP!
2. Congresss begins battle for revival in UP
3. The real SP that Rahul needs
4. Opinions, not opinion polls
5. Questions for Mr Manmohan Singh
6, Mulayam plans to take India 50 years back
7. NDTV sees Congress steaming ahead after Phase 2