It would be good if the Opposition learns its lessons from the Karantaka elections saga. It cannot be denied that Narendra Modi is (and probably will be) the strongest political leader till the time of the 2019 general elections. But there’s no denying the fact that the ‘Modi wave’ is receding too.
For instance, if we look at the recent Karnataka elections, BJP did win 104 seats in the elections. But, in 2008, BS Yeddyurappa won 110 seats in the state without a Modi wave. Also, BJP’s vote share fell by 7% – from 43% in 2014 to 36% in 2018 in Karnataka. Out of the 19 urban constituencies in Bengaluru that were considered to be BJPs stronghold, it managed to win only 11 of them.
This probably indicates that Modi’s popularity is declining – but still, he and Amit Shah managed to turn these lesser vote-percentages into more seats through their extremely-competent electioneering and political strategies. So, defeating them can be hard but not impossible – more so if the regional parties come together. For instance, the RJD-JD(U) and the SP-BSP alliances in Gorakhpur and Phulpur proved that if the Opposition unites, then the BJP can lose even in its own bastion.
Looking at the current trends, it can perhaps be predicted that the BJP will emerge as the single largest party in 2019, but the Congress may also gain many constituencies. If they somehow manage to get somewhere between 120 to 150 seats, we may see a repeat of the 1977 election in which an amalgam of regional parties united to form the Janata Dal government. Now, whether the Congress will lead the coalition or simply be a junior partner will depend on the number of seats it gets.
Furthermore, some political parties may find it impossible to join the NDA government. In such a case, their only options would be to either join the UPA or form a third front. These parties include SP, BSP, BJD, RJD, CPI(M), TMC and some more. But then again, there are some ‘neutral’ regional parties that can align either with the BJP or the Congress. For instance, the JD(S) in Karnataka could have aligned with either the Congress or the BJP. There are also parties like TSR, Shiv Sena, DMK, AIDMK, TDP, JDU, and other small regional parties which may play the role of ‘king-maker’ in 2019.
The biggest prediction about the 2019 election that I would like to make (based on the results of the Karnataka election) is that President Ram Nath Kovind will probably face the same scenario that governor Vajubhai Vala did. The President will probably have to decide whom he should call first to form the government. Should such a situation arise, the Opposition will have to be on the constant lookout for opportunities to outwit the BJP.