PM gets ready for NDA win on 16 May (Sunday Guardian)
MADHAV NALAPAT New Delhi | 3rd May 2014
rders have informally been given in the Prime Minister's Office to ensure that all pending matters get cleared "before 16 May", as on that day, they should "be prepared for a change in government", according to a senior official. He added that "Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wishes to leave with dignity, and to preside over a smooth transition" to what is expected to be a Narendra Modi-led government by the end of the month.
Both psephologists as well as politicians are baffled at the speed and strength of the "Modi wave" that is powering the BJP to victory in the 2014 elections. "We are lucky that the Election Commission opted for an unprecedented nine stages for the elections, as this length of time has helped to dilute the potency of the Modi wave, especially in Bihar and in parts of Uttar Pradesh" where there will be late polling. "Had the polls been held within a two-week interval, the BJP would have gained an extra 20 seats, so we should thank the EC for their decision," a very senior Congress strategist revealed. He further claimed that "by the beginning of February, it was clear that we (the Congress) would do very badly, so from then onwards the target has been to reduce the BJP's tally and (thereby) keep Modi out," he added. He gave "full marks to Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi for the way in which both have tracked the progress of the polls and enthused party workers demoralised by the bad reputation of the Manmohan Singh government".
Although for the record Congress insiders praise the outgoing Prime Minister, in private they say that he "refused to listen to many suggestions made by Soniaji and Rahulji" and that "he was unable to carry out most of the improvements asked of him by the leadership".
Asked why he was not, therefore, replaced, the senior leader claimed that "there was no unanimity on his replacement, as Rahul was not willing to take up the job". He claimed that "the Congress president would have liked Sushilkumar Shinde as PM, but Rahul favoured P. Chidambaram for the job. Also, the family did not want to offend Pranab Mukherjee, as there were indications that he would quit the government if passed over for promotion. By the time PranabDa became President of India, it was too close to the polls for a change in the leadership of the government, so it was decided by the family to continue with Manmohan Singh till the election cycle ended."
The insider said that "Rahul and his team initially placed too much emphasis on standard classifications of caste and community, not realising that Narendra Modi had cut through such divisions with his talk of development." Hence, "it was only very late in the game that caste and community factors were made to compete with the message of development. However, we could not beat Modi at his own game". The party leader said that "we ought to have ensured that sentiment prevailed over cold fact, as in the sentimentality department the Nehru family is tops". According to him, "Priyanka should have campaigned outside UP, especially in the west and south, where she could have made a big difference." However, he claimed that "both Soniaji and Rahulji were reluctant to force Priyanka to undergo the strains of campaigning across the country, although she herself was ready". However, "in protecting her, they may have handed over a majority to the NDA", he ruefully ended.
Calculations made within the relevant echelons of government indicate that the BJP and its allies will pick up more than a 150 seats in the north of India, while in the west, its tally will cross 60, with around 30 seats coming from the south and 20 in the east. If these calculations prove to be accurate, the BJP and its allies will be within striking distance of a majority on their own. However, should more numbers be required, about a dozen seats are expected to go to independents, including in the Northeast, while Jagan Reddy's YSR Congress is expected to win 16 seats in Seemandhra and the TRS seven seats in Telangana. "Had the BJP done separate deals with Jagan in Seemandhra and with TRS in Telangana, the two combinations would have had almost a clean sweep across both regions," a senior official claimed, adding that "the TDP has brought down rather than boosted the BJP's tally". In the same way, he said that "calculations reveal that B.S. Yeddyurappa has helped the BJP in only two seats in Karnataka but has cost the party seven other seats". Also, "the BJP could have got nine seats in Tamil Nadu (rather than the three now forecast) had it avoided angering specific communities by tying up with the MDMK and the PMK". Another official argued that "clearly the Delhi headquarters of the BJP does not understand the dynamics of the South at all, with both Leaders of the Opposition as well as the party president coming from within the same narrow geographical radius".
Given that the in-house experts within the government in the tracking of election results are giving the NDA either a majority on its own or close to the 272 figure, it is perhaps no surprise that across ministries, files are getting cleared and sanitised, so as to ensure that those who have signed on them remain undisturbed by future inquiries.
Meanwhile, the Central Bureau of Investigation under Ranjit Sinha has been giving clean chit after clean chit to a roster of cases, in a spurt of activity unusual in its speed and timing.