There are two sagas which will dominate the Indian psyche in 2019. One is the much awaited Cricket World Cup. The other is the magnum opus, the road to the gaddi in New Delhi. The CWC will be played out in England. The other will play itself out in the streets of India and social media (na, not TV channels – they don’t have any influence. TV anchors, espl. the ones in English channels, don’t need to take their jobs or themselves very seriously. The people who notice them or care for what they say do not count in Indian elections).
Without further ado, lets pick the winners first. My call, based on current mood in the country, probabilistically the person with the best odds of becoming the PM is Mr. Rahul Gandhi. Yes, it is him. Call him by whatever name you want. But game theory picks him to be ahead of others in the race to the gaddi. Probabilistically, though, of his becoming PM is well less than 50%.
Another shocker – and an ‘apparent’ contradiction to the above – the bloc which is most likely to form the govt is the NDA and the PM is likely to be from the BJP/NDA (but neither M/s Modi or Shah). The probability of an NDA govt and a non-Modi/Shah PM is higher than Rahul becoming the PM.
The possibility of a regional party PM is very remote. I cannot see any other person with an acceptable face weilding more than 25 seats. Ms. Mamata is the only person with the ability to get more than 25 seats but it is likely to be low on acceptability quotient. Also, it is very unlikely that she will give up her home turf and move to New Delhi. Mr. Nitish Kumar maybe able get the acceptability. But considering that he will enter into pre-poll alliances to even survive it is unlikely that his party will have enough seats. But mind you, he has the canniness to ditch BJP or strike a deal (with BJP or others) before or after the elections if that will help becoming the PM. He may as well pass on the baton in Bihar to other Mr. Modi and march to Delhi. I think he has the highest odds of a non BJP, non-congress PM.
Now, the quick maths and post election dynamics. We will keep that short.
The premise is that:
o BJP will not get majority on its own.
o BJP will still be the largest party, and NDA will probably be a bit shy of the half-way mark.
· Some NDA alliance partners – are not likely to accept Mr. Modi as PM
· Some of the regional parties (who will fight against NDA, e.g. TDP) will be ready to wooed to shift alliances post election
o Congress expected to win between 100-150 seats on their own.
o Assuming the pre-poll alliances are well stitched and the social media strategy/execution will good, congress will be the dominant colour of the collage – which can be a strong alternative.
o As there will be too many players and some squabbling there is a good chance that UPA and the other members of the collage will lose out to Mr. Shah chess play and NDA may end up forming the govt.
o In such a case (succumbing to alliance partner noise) Mr. Modi’s (despite his self-image and huge aspirations to go down in the history books a great leader) may give up his right to lead the coalition and BJP will find an acceptable face from within or outside.
o However, if UPA collage manages to improve its machination quotient over the next 12 months and manages to keep the anti-Modi flock together, then Mr. Rahul will emerge as a best consensus candidate.
o That’s the basis of the predictions:
· NDA government, with a non Modi PM. Very difficult to predict the PM now. Probability 40s-60%
· In case congress/regional parties, manages to keep the anti-modi flock together (which is a tough task) and convert anti-incumbency into votes then Rahul Gandhi will be the only acceptable face of that collage. Also Congress will be the largest part of the group he will have the natural entitlement to lead it. Probability 30-40%
· Outside chance – someone will prop up Mr. Nitish Kumar. Either NDA or the collage. He is the dark horse as of now. Probability 0-10%.
That’s about it then. We will re-visit this closer to elections month, and more importantly post elections.