What are the 3 weaknesses of BJP? Shekhar Gupta (SG) asked Prashant Kishore (PK) in a recent interview. At ~29th minute in this interview, PK begins to explain the second weakness of BJP – “their inability to do well in Eastern and Southern India”. Your mind immediately races to actually how well BJP has actually performed in the 2019 elections in the entire North-East and West Bengal. While the mind is trying to understand the statement, PK begins to elaborate.
PK: “You divide India’s 543 seats into parts. And you take the Eastern and Southern states. And you start from Bihar”.
Now you would assume that since he now says Bihar is from Eastern India, Jharkhand also will be included in his list. He yet again flummoxes you by (deliberately) not including Jharkhand but including Bihar in eastern India!
PK continues: “Start from Bihar, go to Bengal, down below is Odisha, united Andhra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala”
Maybe he meant East Coast states, but then why would Bihar get included? But if he meant Eastern India and if he wants to start Eastern India with Bihar, then what wrong did the poor NE states and Jharkhand even do to miss the radar of an astute person like PK?
PK continues: “All these states have approximately 200 seats. And BJP won only ~50 seats in these states”.
You must again be perplexed. Because NDA won 39 out of the 40 seats in Bihar alone! And that’s when you realise PK is again intelligently choosing to highlight only the BJP seats and not the NDA seats! His choice of Bihar still flummoxes me because he would have had a stronger argument if he actually didn’t include Bihar in it. He tells us in this interview that lot of people think BJP would sweep Bihar but “that’s not true”. Yet another googly – the NDA literally swept Bihar Lok Sabha seats in 2019 and came close to a sweep in 2014 – so why wouldn’t people see Bihar as a strong state for the BJP?
PK continues: “Despite everything that the BJP has (and he lists out a bunch of things) they have not been able to penetrate these states.”
Not been able to penetrate these states? In the year 2019, BJP won 18 seats in West Bengal as opposed to 2 it won in 2014. In the year 2019, BJP won 8 seats in Odisha as opposed to 1 in 2014. It won 4 in Telangana as opposed to 1. In Bihar, NDA won 39 in 2019 as opposed to 31 in 2014! If you remove Bihar from his list, then the grand total of seats won by BJP in 2014 in the other states he mentions are in single digits! How much more penetration was PK expecting to happen in a short span of 5 years in states where one assumed BJP did not even exist?
Undeterred and uninterrupted, PK continues: “In the remaining 300 seats….where BJP is strong…if for some reason a party or a formation snatches 100 seats from BJP in Western and Northern India, then the power balance will tilt”
Shekhar Gupta had been silent during this bit, so he had to intervene at this moment and give his insight – “BJP is like the Janata Party of 1977 which swept the Hindi heartland and the west, but Mrs Gandhi still retained the South”.
PK’s reaction and analysis of this comment is even more insightful than his inclusion of only Bihar in Eastern India. He says: “Hindi heartland has now extended to Gujarat, Maharashtra and Karnataka” The mind is in a tizzy trying to understand this statement coming from a man of PK’s stature in an interview with a man of SG’s stature. Your mind boggles at how the analysts are altering basic concepts of geography, language, and common sense! How does Karnataka remotely get classified as a “Hindi
heartland” state? How do Gujarat and Maharashtra get into the bracket of “Hindi heartland” when crores of people in these states speak and take pride in their own languages?
Other analysts elsewhere have already cancelled out Goa and Karnataka from South India because the states have voted for BJP. Now, they are continuing this game of splitting the country, not based on sub-regions but splitting the sub-regions themselves according to how they voted for the BJP!
PK has repeated these statistics in other interviews too. The gist of all his interviews is that the Congress does not need to win even 150 seats to regain power at the centre. The burden of winning 272 is only on the BJP. The congress just needs 120-140 seats (in his own words). His version of “Eastern and Southern” India areas are already offering 150 seats against the BJP, and so according to him, all that needs to be done is “snatch away 100 seats from the BJP from the remaining ~350 seats”.
PK has been on record saying that he spent “every minute” of 5 months post the Bengal elections in 2021 to devise a plan for Congress and join Congress. In this interview with SG, he tells us that the primary reason he fell out with Prime Minister Modi is because of the delay in enabling lateral entry into the Government. If he feels so strongly about an issue like this (which by the way, the Modi government has begun to implement), how oh how does he think the Congress party will remotely think of enabling reforms like this?! PK is also on record in all these interviews that the BJP is doing well because they are ensuring door delivery of welfare schemes. Hearing all this, it really beats me why PK thinks Congress is the alternative to a party that is actually reforming the country!
PK met Sonia Gandhi, her children, and some congress leaders a couple of days back, for nearly 4 hours. In fact, Sonia Gandhi again met PK yesterday, indicating that PK has certainly proposed something big to have shaken Sonia Gandhi. While we can’t be blamed for assuming that this will also end up as a damp squib, given the history around the Congress under the Gandhi family, you can never write off the remote possibility of a genuine surprise being sprung.
Irrespective of the result of the latest activities, it was staggering to hear an astute strategist like PK indicate his thoughts that centered around changing geographical indicators, reviving a corrupt and inefficient Congress and defeating the BJP despite himself claiming that they are doing a lot of good for the people of India. It is therefore an opportune time to ask the question – Is the bubble of PK going to burst soon?
PS: In the interview, notice how Shekhar Gupta keeps on saying that his colleague Neelam Pandey will soon ask a question but goes on asking multiple questions himself!