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Can a unified Opposition dethrone Modi in 2019?
Barely sixteen months remain for the present BJP-led government to fulfill the promises made to people and update its report card so that the people of India can scrutinize and decide whether to continue with Narendra Modi or give chance to others.

But the big question is, who these others are? Is it one party like the Congress or a grand alliance of a unified opposition?

Before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, six important states will go to polls. They are Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh and Karnataka. Congress is the ruling party in two of these states (Karnataka and Himachal) whereas the BJP rules in the remaining four. The fate of Himachal has already been sealed and in Gujarat, campaigning for the election is going on. On December 18, we will know the results of both these states. Enough has been written on these two elections, so there's nothing more to add to it except that my prediction is a 2-0 win in BJP's favour.

Next year, the Congress is sure to lose Karnataka and the BJP may get a setback in Rajasthan and Chattisgarh while retaining Madhya Pradesh easily. These elections will set the tone for the 2019 general elections.

Contrary to popular belief, the 2019 LS election will not be a bed of roses for the BJP as the Opposition parties will leave nothing to chance to stop the BJP juggernaut. PM Modi's popularity has been on the rise ever since he took oath as the Prime Minister on May 24, 2014. He took some path-breaking decisions like surgical strike, demonetisation and implementation of the GST which changed the rules of the game. An ordinary citizen adores him with awe, whereas his adversaries curse him. If Modi wins another term, then it is game over for almost all the Opposition parties with Congress becoming totally irrelevant.

What does one do when pushed against the wall? He retaliates with all his might. What happens when a group is pushed to the brink? The group rejuvenates, regathers and rekindles with fresh vigour, and individuals compromise their own personal interests to take on a common enemy. This could be the likely scenario in 2019.

There are three known BJP leaders (Shatrughan Sinha, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie) who have been sulking the most in recent times because of the sour-grape syndrome. While the Opposition is clueless how to tackle the BJP, these leaders keep giving them sermons and strategies. There is no point in discussing what both Sinhas are saying as no one takes them seriously anyway, but Arun Shourie is a noted economist. Last week, during the launch of 'India Social', a book by AAP's social media strategist Ankit Lal, Arun Shourie spoke about a theory which could be called the '69 per cent theory'. In nut-shell, the theory says that 31 per cent people voted for the BJP in 2014 and 69 per cent against it. If just one candidate is pitted against the BJP in each constituency, then the BJP will not even cross 50 seats in total.

"If you really believe the country is in peril because of the way things are happening, then you must get together. The first point should be that there will only be one candidate against a BJP candidate in each constituency." Shourie said.

He also talked about a common minimum programme for such a united Opposition.

Richard Bach once mentioned, "Your conscience is the measure of the honesty of your selfishness. Listen to it carefully." This so aptly applies to Shourie and other such frustrated souls in the BJP who are spewing venom against the Modi government time and again because they did not get a portfolio in the government.

Let us analyse what Shourie said. It is true that 69 per cent votes were not in favor of the BJP. If we talk about the NDA, then then it is 64 per cent, assuming that 5 per cent votes are of NDA constituent parties. In a multi-party election, this is a game clincher. But in case of two parties or one party versus a coalition, this is not enough. So if the Opposition parties unite under a common minimum programme, then it will surely spell trouble for the BJP. But will the Opposition parties unite?

In Bihar elections, the grand alliance between the JD(U), RJD and Congress won with a whopping majority although later the alliance broke after the JD(U) reunited with the BJP. But it showed a path, a precedence, that BJP can be made to bite the dust by a unified Opposition.

One factor, demonetisation, has united the Opposition parties despite ideological differences as they all lost substantial unaccounted money. Moreover, PM Modi is planning a surgical strike against illegal real-estate soon which has already made the Opposition parties shiver. Faced with such a drastic proposition, there is no other choice than to unite and be relevant in national politics.

If the upcoming state Assembly elections go in favor of the BJP, then I'm sure a 'grand Opposition alliance' is on the cards for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Some NDA constituents like the Shiv Sena may switch sides. Even some constituent parties of the UPA might consider joining with the NDA. Whatever it is, all parties will be clubbed under two alliances…NDA led by the BJP and UPA led by the Congress. Except independents, there will only be two candidates in each constituency, one from the NDA and the other from UPA.

Here is a drawback in 'unified Opposition theory' or '69 per cent theory' as illustrated in the following example:

If X is a TMC supporter (CPM hater) and is asked to vote for the CPM as per unified opposition theory, say in Bengal, then he/she will not vote for the CPM, but will either abstain from voting or vote for an independent or the BJP although against wish. The same hold true for traditional BSP voters. It will be difficult for them to vote for the SP or Congress. People cannot be taken for granted. They will not vote just to remove the BJP. They can see what is cooking and change their preference. Such people will be around 6-8 per cent which is substantial.

Knowing what Modi has done so far and his plans during next year, I am of the opinion that votes in favor of the BJP will increase from 31 per cent in 2014 to around 40-42 per cent in 2019. That means a jump of around 9-11 per cent.

There are always 10 per cent of volatile votes which could go either way and therefore the game is on.

So, although the unified Opposition theory looks effective at first glance, it may not give the dividends being perceived, but it will surely make BJP's win difficult.

Shourie's theory might be a morale booster for the Opposition, but cannot guarantee victory.

So, should the BJP worry?

Yes, but not because of a unified Opposition, but because complacency can be hazardous in elections. The best way forward for the BJP is to do well in this term and then advertise it so that each voter knows what this government has achieved. Let the big mouths of the BJP not speak, instead let the good work of Modi speak for itself. The BJP leaders and spokespersons need to be more assertive. They must stay connected with the masses and have listening ears to people's issues, failing which, Modi will face the same fate as Atalji despite brilliant work.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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