Not one to be put off by looming hurdles that may torpedo his drive to oust the Congress-UPA, BJP prime minister candidate Narendra Modi sought to bring fresh cheer for his party leaders and cadres on Christmas eve.
Two weeks after the debutant Aam Admi Party’s (AAP’s) success in Delhi almost eclipsed the principal opposition party’s victory in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, Modi reminded his party colleagues that the political mood was still working in their favour but they must not get distracted in their campaign.
Addressing a conclave of BJP campaign heads and strategists after a key meeting of party chief ministers and the BJP parliamentary board, Modi exuded “full confidence” in the BJP securing 272-plus seats in the Lok Sabha seats.
Chief ministers Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Raman Singh and Vasundhara Raje too told their colleagues that they did what the AAP is said to have done in Delhi. While Chouhan said he had not led his campaign from his office suite but hit the village track from day 1, Singh elaborated the manner in which the BJP organisation took the party’s message to every voter. Raje pointed to her team settling issues at the constituency level, working on feedback from the grassroots.
But Modi asked the BJP to focus on those Lok Sabha constituencies in which its candidates stood second behind the Congress in the last elections and cash in on the strong anti-incumbent mood against the ruling party.
In 2009, the difference in the number of votes secured by the Congress and the saffron party was only 8.9 million in places where the BJP finished second. The Congress added 90 seats to its tally because of this factor, he said.
“This time, with the addition of 12 crore (120 million) new voters in the last five years, many of whom who are put off by the Congress, our task to win those 90 seats and more is much easier. We have to work hard to secure more than a crore of votes and our tally will shoot upwards of the 200 mark,” Modi told the party leaders.
Modi’s managers found the Congress-led UPA won 53 seats by fewer than 25,000 votes. The victory margin was even smaller in 32 seats in UP, MP, Odisha, Uttarakhand, Karnataka, Gujarat and Maharashtra.
This time, Modi’s biggest hopes are in UP and Bihar, which together account for 120 seats. At present, the BJP has 10 seats in UP and 12 in Bihar. His team also sees big improvements in MP, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Delhi.
Modi has directed party workers to motivate all eligible voters in every Lok Sabha seat, particularly those who have turned 18, to get registered as voters.
An estimate done by his key aides shows the number of such unregistered voters could be as high as 150,000 in each Lok Sabha constituency. Even the older but unregistered could be 60,000 in number.
The average winning margin in the parliamentary elections in the 2009 polls was 70,000. The BJP lost as many as 100 seats by a margin of up to 150,000.
Modi’s managers estimate the youth population — between 18 and 23 — who will be first-time voters in 2014 is 149.36 million, which is more that 20% of the total voter strength of 725 million.