Churning In States, Public Mood "Difficult To Decode": NDTV Scans Battleground

The 2024 election has bucked the trend of the last 10 years, in the sense of an absence of any wave or public anger, the experts agreed. What has hit the country instead is a sense of discontent, which the Opposition has failed to capitalise on.

New Delhi:

The public mood is tough to read for the 2024 Lok Sabha Election and while the BJP will get majority, one can expect the unexpected: This was what a group of experts at NDTV concluded this evening as the massive celebration of democracy in the country draws to a close. There will be tough fights, some even in the BJP bastions of the north, but the ruling party will gain from non-BJP states, including Telangana, Odisha and Bengal, the experts said. As for the 400-seat target, it could represent an "aspiration" to motivate people, ventured one of the experts at NDTV Battleground, anchored by Editor-in-Chief Sanjay Pugalia.

The 2024 election has bucked the trend of the last 10 years, because of an absence of any pro-government wave or public anger against the incumbent, the experts agreed. What has hit the country instead is a sense of discontent, but one that the Opposition has failed to capitalise on.

Senior journalist and political expert Neerja Chowdhury said this election has been particularly "complex" and "difficult to decode".

"At some level, we are not seeing that Modi wave. On a different level, there are some fence-sitters. Modi Wave cannot control the Opposition, who are focussing on local issues. The Opposition is giving a fight but that doesn't equal victory," she added.

Pointing out that a wave is seen "after an election", political strategist Amitabh Tiwari said, "Voting is an emotional decision -- hope versus anger. There is discontent... But converting discontent to anger is a different issue, one that needs a political movement, which was missing from the Opposition list".

Mood After Six Phases Of Election

This election had started with some national issues but deviated from them after a while, the experts agreed.

The BJP had started its campaign with a focus on national issues, but ended up responding to the Opposition agenda including allegations of a possible change in constitution, discussions of which had flooded social media, said Sanjay Kumar, psephologist from CSDS.

But leaving aside the noise on social media, there is the silent majority that makes up its mind about which way to go even before the election begins, the panel agreed.

"One has to think about what the issue is at the heart of every election... People vote for a bright future for themselves and their children," Mr Tiwari said.

So far as the social media chatter is concerned, two key sections are missing there -- women and the beneficiaries of welfare projects.

"These are the two sections that were the decisive factor in many an election," he added.

Asked whether the Opposition has got sidetracked and misled by the social media chatter, Mr Tiwari agreed.

Even today, the Opposition is trying to contain the BJP within a score of 270, "which is a defeatist attitude", he added.

The BJP is hoping to win 370 seats in the ongoing election, which has reached the last stretch. The party has given its NDA allies a target of 30-plus seats, which will take the score of the ruling alliance to 400-plus.

Non-BJP States Factor

Asked whether the view that the BJP will lose some and win some is correct, Neerja Choudhury said while its score might marginally drop in parts of the north and Karnataka, the party will make up for it in the non-BJP states.

Key among them will be Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, where they are expected to get more seats owing to their alliance with Chandrababu Naidu and Telangana, where the Congress has decimated K Chandrasekhar Rao's Bharat Rashtra Samithi.

Sanjay Kumar agreed, saying while the BJP might lose a few seats, it will not be enough to cause a major difference, especially with their gains from non-BJP states. His analogy for this was cricket -- at times when the opening batsmen end up with a less-than-stellar performance, the middle order makes up for it, he pointed out.

The two states that would make a material difference to the BJP score would be Bengal and Maharashtra, said Sandeep Shastri, psephologist from CSDS. It remains to be seen whether the allies would drag the BJP down or the BJP would be able to carry them along, he said. In Bengal, the outcome differs depending on who one is speaking to, the experts agreed.

The last phase of election will be held on June 1, the counting of votes will take place on June 4.