Nagpur/New Delhi: On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally commended Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for the evacuation and relief measures undertaken by his government for Cyclone Fani. In many other ways, it appeared the BJP was reaching out to the long-serving Biju Janata Dal strongman. Contrast that with the Prime Minister’s election campaign in Odisha on April 23 when he derided Patnaik, telling him that his exit was imminent and a few officers were not enough to save him.
After the fifth phase of polling ended on Monday, leading news agency did a dipstick survey of the post-poll scenario based on feedback from the nation’s top ‘satta’ markets. The numbers showed that the NDA could fall short of the half way mark by a bit. That would mean the regional satraps, who are now outside the NDA umbrella, could become very important after May 23.
Punters have suggested that the NDA could get around 240 seats (plus or minus 10) and the UPA around 145 (plus or minus 10). Among the regional satraps, the Uttar Pradesh ‘mahagathbandhan’, the DMK, the Trinamool Congress, YSR Congress and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti are likely to do very well.
The satta markets located in Hapur, Delhi, Phalodi (Rajasthan), Indore, Kolkata, Agra, Bhavnagar, Mumbai and Nagpur are still betting on the NDA led by Narendra Modi to emerge as the largest pre-poll alliance, and stay well ahead of the UPA, but the earlier enthusiasm among punters of a runaway NDA victory is no longer evident.
The big losses are likely to come in Uttar Pradesh, where the NDA cornered 73 seats in 2014. The punters believe that this time, while the NDA will stave off the challenge from the Bahujan Samaj Party-Samajwadi Party ‘mahagathbandhan’ to the extent that it will get more seats, it will still be a pared down performance with the NDA likely to get about 40 seats as against around 34 seats of the BSP-SP combine.
Punters says there will be losses in Bihar too, which had supported the NDA in 2014, and the BJP-led alliance could get around 25 seats this time as against 15 of the Congress-Rashtriya Janata Dal alliance. The sequence of likely pared down electoral performances could continue in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh while there Gujarat might not see a BJP sweep.
The satta markets believe these losses could be offset partly by impressive gains — compared to the earlier low base — in West Bengal (punters say the BJP could bag 10 seats here, even though BJP president Amit Shah says the party was set to win 22-23 seats) and Odisha (again about 10 seats). However, barring Karnataka, the south is unlikely to be very supportive of the NDA and this is going to cause the BJP much worry.