Thursday, February 6, 2014

Countdown To Elections - Part 4

Well the dance of democracy is taking a very nice and humorous touch these days. Before I make my comments based on the last few updates, I would like to share some videos that will provide the context of my discussion this time around.

First: A few days before the Delhi elections, this was a debate on Times Now. It was regarding the joke of getting a meal for 5 bucks in Delhi and 12 bucks in Mumbai!


This was where the Congress representative Sanjay Jha emphatically told the AAP reprsentative - you cannot beat us! What was the result of the election? Congress took a royal drubbing not just in Delhi but also in other key states like Rajasthan, MP

Now comes the biggest blunder of Congress - Rahul Gandhi with his fantastic interviews

First was the CII Interview


Then was the fantastic interview on Times Now


Time and again, Mr Rahul Gandhi keeps harping on problems in the system, democracy not spreading deep enough, etc etc etc - Mr Rahul Gandhi - please can you tell us who was ruling this country for the last 10 years??? The very fact that you state that there are problems in the system clearly shows that your party has mismanaged this country big time. You are questioning the ethics and code of your own party - what have you been doing as number 2 of the Congress committee???

I don't want to get into the constitutional hurdles that Mr. Subramaniam Swamy has raised regarding Mrs Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi's eligibility to be the PM of this country. The fact of the matter is that the people of India know to segregate wheat from chaff. Mr. Rahul Gandhi should very well take a leaf out of his own father or grand mother's book as far as leadership and politics are concerned. There is no doubt about the fact that Mr. Rajiv Gandhi was one of the best Prime Ministers India got post-independence. He had a compelling vision and mission to transform the economy of this country.

Now you cannot free-ride on the same because every leader has to prove his/her own credentials. By merely making a 500 crore election campaign [called image make-over campaign which by itself is an acknowledgement that people don't hold Rahul Gandhi in high esteem] Mr. Sanjay Jha said on Times Now that Congress will win the elections in Delhi; the result is in front of us. Mr Rahul Gandhi now says emphatically that Congress will win this election. I cannot comment on that at this point of time.

The fact of the matter is that the Congress has already realized that it is running into the dead end if the elections is on the basis of merits alone. The Congress has stooped so low that it is completely focused on getting the high population low literacy section votes with ponzi schemes like Food Security Bill and Rajiv Awas Yojana, MNREGA etc etc etc. The Congress party needs to answer the question as to who foots the bill for Food Security Bill? There is a major paradox - your party says that less than 30% of the population is 'poor' thanks to good governance by UPA1/2. If that is indeed the case, why do we need to have such populist measures? Why could you not think about Rajiv Awas Yojana in the last 10 years. Why do these advertisements come on prime time television 4 months before the elections?

On one side, you are telling people to move to cities and find better employment opportunities. Then who will take care of the farms and flora/fauna in villages? Is this the reason why you need MNREGA in villages? Also please answer a few basic things; if a farmer is going to have MNREGA, other opportunities and Food Security Bill, why will he cultivate food in the first place? Why should he spend so much time, energy and resources when things can be simple, easy and cheap???

The fact of the matter is that the Congress by and large has lost conscience, common sense and ethics completely. Moreover, it is grossly underestimating the power of people even after a royal drubbing in the semi-final stages of the elections. The state that Congress is in right now, is the same as that of the British in 1946-47. The British knew that the end-game was around the corner; they just tried to extract maximum possible in the last stages and inflict as many damages as they could before leaving. This is exactly what Congress is doing right now.

This is precisely where the country has a bigger problem. After Congress, there is no major party that has a reasonably strong clout on a pan-country basis. The BJP is undoubtedly second but they too have a major challenge on a pan-country level. They don't have enough clout. And for those who are running on the AAP bandwagon, Delhi state elections are different and a pan-India thing is different. Maybe that may be the best alternative to India but that will still take a good 10 years to become so.

Sad but in all likelihood this time again, we will end up with a fractured mandate from the people. By the looks of it, there is little doubt that BJP will emerge as the single largest party in this election. What is more critical is how the coalition will be formed. It might very well turn out to be an irony that the single largest party does not garner enough mandate to form the government. BJP, Congress and all other parties need to remember that Namo, RaGa, DiDi, Amma etc are all fine but at the end of the day, people vote for the best possible candidate in that particular constituency. From that perspective, despite the fact that BJP has far better individual candidates in many areas and media hype shows favor towards BJP, people will vote for XYZ in that constituency.

I am more of a capital markets' analyst and can say from my limited findings; the odds are still in favor of incumbents. If the stock markets are an indication, as long as the corrections preceding elections are less than 20%, incumbents have a stronger chance to come back. Of course, the confidence interval for the same is less than 90% [statistical confidence interval] And this is not my personal finding; one can google up correlations for capital market actions preceding elections and there is enough material out there that say more or less the same thing.

So the BJP [and allies] need to get their act together and portray something very strong. It is very much possible as the sentiments are with them at this point of time.

If the Congress really wants to have a chance, it is time to shut up this Rahul Gandhi nonsense. The educated middle class and youth will not accept him as the leader of the country. The Congress in reality has only 2 potential PM candidates that people will embrace and welcome big time - P Chidambaram and Nandan Nilekani. Both of them are educated [truly], have very good understanding of the problems the country faces and what the youth wants [in fact I would rate Nandan Nilekani higher on these parameters as he is the poster-boy of youth and for those who have doubts in his credentials can read Imagining India. Even McKinsey's Re-Imagining India is nothing compared to the original!]

Both of these erudite gentlemen score very well with politicians across borders and likewise with businesses. The Congress cannot continue on the basis of dynasty - it has to be a party.

The other dark reality is the possibility of a Third Front; time and again people have seen how futile such a structure is. At such low GDP growth rates, this is the last thing that India needs. If a 3rd Front comes through, then the economic development of this country will take a further beating. I think that the middle class and youth realize this fairly well and will not let this happen in all likelihood.

To summarize, both Congress and BJP still have a very good chance to change the pathetic state in which this country is right now. Both have their own actions to take care of. They just need to make sure that they don't go around making a fool of themselves as this is not even 2009. People are far more connected and knowledged than ever.

So let us see how the probabilities pan out [My personal assessments]

The 4 states where elections have just concluded - the result will be in their favor ownly

J&K: Whether we like it or not, status quo will continue
Punjab: Akali Dal will in all likelihood win the race
Haryana: Congress will certainly get booted out
Uttar Pradesh: The problem is that both BSP and SP are idiotic; but with a 20 crore population, one just doesn't know how things will swing
Uttaranchal: The incumbents will be challenged
HP: In all likelihood, incumbents will be challenged
Bihar: Nitish Kumar likely to continue

Gujarat: BJP set to win
Maharashtra: Unpredictable with Congress, NCP, MNS and SS all having their share of votes and challenges
Goa: BJP set to win under Parrikar
Rajasthan: BJP set to win

MP: BJP set to win
Chattisgarh: BJP set to win
Jharkhand: Status quo to continue

This is an unpredictable cluster as always and status quo with local parties expected

Karnataka: Congress seem set to win
Tamil Nadu: AIADMK seem set to win
AP: Remains to be seen [but Congress and BJP are unlikely candidates]
Kerala: Seems like the Left may stage a comeback

Thus, it is a very fractured state of affairs and horse trading will once again come into the picture. Time is ticking - tick tock tick tock ---- people of India restless for a change

Foreign investors waiting for policy paralysis to get over. May the best happen to our country. Last but not the least, there will be a lot of lessons on humility, politicial strategy that will emerge after these elections. Things never heard of, thought of before will come into the foray. Many old hands will be gone for good.

One question that still remains unanswered and will remain unanswered for a long time: IF IAS, IPS and judiciary have retirement ages, why can't there be an upper age limit for politicians and leaders???

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