The world’s largest democracy has another date with change this summer, to elect its 16th Lok Sabha.
One change that has already happened is that it has acquired the overtones of the US presidential polls, although only the challenger – the BJP’s Narendra Modi – has taken the stage.
For, the incumbent Congress has made it very clear it will not join the game of “who is bigger – your Modi or Our Rahul?”.
Opinion polls so far show the BJP-led NDA emerging as the single largest formation, but substantially short of the magical figure of 272 in the 543-member Lok Sabha.
Since the projections didn’t show much enthusiasm for the Congress-led UPA, a hung Parliament is very much on the horizon. It could mean the regional biggies may get to influence government formation.
Since uncertainty makes the 2014 polls an exciting one, HT has picked up five hot states where there are no clear trends and five cool ones — the BJP already won four of them in the recent assembly polls — where the picture is relatively clearer.
Uttar Pradesh: From a high of 58 Lok Sabha seats in 1998, the BJP dropped to 10 in 2009. Modi is focusing on the state, as it has the highest number of LS seats.
Things have become tougher for the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) after the Muzaffarnagar riots. The SP, which won 23 seats in 2009, can ill afford to take minority support for granted. The other two major parties, the Congress and the BSP, bagged 21 and 20 seats, respectively in 2009 and would do well to match the numbers.
Bihar: After chief minister Nitish Kumar of the Janata Dal (United) ended his alliance with the BJP last year, pollsters find him not so exciting. Recent trends suggest the BJP will improve on its tally and Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal look ready for a comeback.
Maharashtra: The ruling Congress-NCP combine has been hit very hard by the Adarsh housing and irrigation scams. It’s only hit-back strategy is to focus on the BJP-Shiv Sena’s perceived communal agenda. The party-pooper could be Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena .
: Since 1984, when the Telugu Desam Party won 30 seats, it has been in a straight fight with the Congress. But it’s no longer a two-horse race with the rise of the YSR Congress and the furore over the
. The party-pooper could be the Telangana Rasthra Samiti.
Tamil Nadu: M Karunanidhi’s DMK, which pulled out of the UPA last year over the 2G scam, has 18 seats. But the party is in a turmoil after the patriarch suspended elder son MK Alagiri . Opinion polls do not see much future for the DMK and the Congress this time. The ruling AIADMK, led by J Jayalalithaa, is eyeing a big jump from its nine seats. Among the Tamil Nadu big guns, she is one with whom Modi may go for a post-poll rapport.
Madhya Pradesh: The BJP scored a hat-trick in assembly polls under Shivraj Singh Chouhan and is expected to sweep the Lok Sabha polls. The last elections saw the BJP winning 16 seats and the Congress 12.
Rajasthan: The Congress swept the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, bagging 20 seats after coming back to power previous year. But now, the BJP is poised to return the favour .
Gujarat: The BJP got 15 seats and the Congress 11 in 2009. The tantalising prospect of CM Modi becoming PM Modi could make all the difference now.
Chhattisgarh: CM Raman Singh of the BJP completed a hat-trick in the state polls, despite the Congress’ strong challenge.
Karnataka: The state gave the BJP 18 and 19 seats in 2004 and 2009. But after the exit of strongman BS Yeddyurappa , the party lost the 2013 state polls. Although Modi has him back, the ruling Congress is expecting to touch its 1999 figure of 18 seats and improve further.