Could It Be Mamata?

Polling the Indian electorate is a tough proposition. But let's go by some numbers.

BJP set to emerge as single largest party in Lok Sabha polls: Survey
National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is likely to get 236 seats..... Congress, which came out with flying colours in the last General Elections, would be confined to 73 seats, while the fledging Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is likely to get around 10 seats in the Lok Sabha polls ....... As far as the choice of prime ministerial candidate was concerned, Modi, backed by over 57 per cent respondents .......the federal front would beat the UPA with around 186 seats..... All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) would secure 29 seats, followed by AIADMK with 19 and BJD is expected to win on 16 seats
I think 200 is a magic number. If Modi can get the BJP past 200, then the democratic impulses of leaders in all parties will tell them the guy has a mandate, or at least something larger than everyone else. The BJP at 217 and the NDA at 236 is very close to the magic number of 272. Mamata or Jayalalita could opt for the Deputy Prime Ministership. And if they do, Third Front talk crumbles.

The Congress refused to name Rahul the PM candidate. And the Third Front refused to formally form. Both were magic moments. I was in disbelief both times. That makes Modi the only candidate for Prime Minister in the ring. If Modi manages to get both Mamata and Jayalalita, he will not need anyone else. Jayalalita's political move on the Rajiv Gandhi assassins was meant to get her closer to Modi. She wanted to make sure she was seen as anti-Congress. I am glad for the Supreme Court's move, but the political point was made.

If the BJP gets past 200, it will be hard for the Congress to prop up a Third Front government. For one, as a democratic party it might respect the right of the largest party to go into power. Two, if you prop up a Third Front government, and it misperforms and goes down the drain in two years, then you risk taking blame not only for the Congress' misperformance in power, but also that of the Third Front. The Congress might go below 50 at that point. And the BJP might command a simple majority all on its own if mid-term polls were then held.

The numbers still leave one scenario. The NDA goes to 236, but is made to sit in the opposition. A Third Front does take shape, and the Congress decides to throw its weight behind that Third Front. 186 seats of the Third Front propped up by 100 seats of the UPA gets you past 272. A mandate is a mandate. There is a reason why that magic number of 272 is there. The coalition that gets past that magic number can claim to have the mandate.

So Modi's claim to the throne is not secure yet, but he sure has momentum. The NDA's numbers have steadily climbed up over the past few months. He might take the NDA past 250 if the momentum holds. Then it is a no contest. You end up with a woman Deputy Prime Minister.

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