Narendra Modi's 'Mission 272+' is a clear indication that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) does not appear to be winning new allies ahead of the 2104 elections, and hence the party’s strategy is in favour of ekla cholo re (go it alone) at present. Anxious to expand his image beyond Muslim-baiting, Modi claimed that "20-25%" voters from the minority community had voted for him in the Assembly polls and asked the party cadre to reach out to all sections, including Muslims, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
The BJP election campaign committee chief emphasised that a key strategy for 2014 must be an inclusive approach to meet the hopes and expectations of every section. The BJP on its part may decide to go it alone in many states where several anti-Congress groups will be fighting for the votes of the Dalits, backward castes and minority communities.
It is still difficult to say how far the growing disillusionment with the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government will help the BJP recover lost ground in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Nor is it easy to guess how far the BJP’s new image means a change of heart and a softening of attitude by sangh parivar front organisations on Hindutva.
Political observers say that the saffron party has identified at least 297 parliamentary seats for special attention in 2014 polls. These are the seats the party won once or more in elections since 1989. This exciting figure has convinced the party that it can come close to the halfway mark of 272 in Parliament on its own. Party chief Rajnath Singh and Modi used every opportunity to declare their mutual admiration. The strategic partnership is developing into a replay of the Atal-Advani sort of political bonhomie.
Modi also underscored the need for tapping the young and first time voters who, he said, are restless for a change. The initiative has been planned keeping in mind the BJP’s experience in Gujarat where it reached out to young and first-time voters with an agenda promising change. In the 2009 election, the Congress improved its overall vote share from 26.5% to 28.6%, and the BJP declined from 22.2% to 18.8%.
Modi's Five Point Agenda
. Modi is likely to focus on Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.
Together these states account for 210 Lok Sabha seats and the BJP had won a paltry 31 seats out of 210 in 2009.
This is where the BJP has tremendous potential to perform.
Opinion polls predict that the BJP is likely to grab at least 100 seats from these areas.
. Party insiders feel that the Hindutva poster boy is likely to emerge as a vote multiplier in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and Karnataka. These states send 138 members to the Lok Sabha.
The common factor among all these States is that the BJP is directly pitted against the Congress in most of the seats here, which gives the saffron party an edge over the grand old party. The BJP will try to cash in on Modi’s growing charisma and the pan-India profile he has acquired of late.
. He has inspired investor confidence in Gujarat and also put development at the forefront. Both have yielded huge returns for him. Modi has already joined the ranks of Jyoti Basu, Mohanlal Sukhadia, Sheila Dikshit and Naveen Patnaik in leading his party to victory in a state three times in a row.
In 2014, the combined force of AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa and BJD chief Naveen Patnaik may influence Modi’s fortunes a lot. It is now for the smaller parties to decide which way to go, and to settle their priorities, local or national.
Tamil Nadu, Odhisha, Punjab, Haryana, Assam and the North-East account for 118 LS seats. Modi already has a rapport with J Jayalalithaa and Purno Sangma, while a large section of BJD is also reportedly keen to join the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
. Many opinion polls have already predicted a positive swing for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh and the elevation of master strategist Amit Shah has become an icing on the cake.
There is one school of thought that argues that the party is waiting for an opportune time to flag Modi’s caste antecedent but it is caught in its usual dilemma of whether a casteist projection would conflict with his popular image as a development and good governance votary.
. Modi cautioned that unless the BJP fine-tuned its booth management, it could end up with more misses than hits.
The campaign panel chief wants that the Delhi brass step out of their confines, visit each state, sit with the leaders and office-bearers, hold detailed discussions and then come up with a state-specific draft. It is now-or-never scenario for the BJP.