Will PM Modi spring a surprise before Lok Sabha elections?
As the general elections of 2019 loom large on the political horizon, the window of opportunity for populist decision making and implementation may be narrowing down to just 24 weeks at best between now and prior to the battleground state elections at the end of this year.
This window may get shortened further if the government opts to club the Lok Sabha elections with the regional assembly polls in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram that are to take place latest by December this year. However, such a prospect seems unlikely as the BJP may not want to draw the anti-incumbency against state legislatures into the national elections.
All eyes thus are on whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi will spring some sort of a surprise that will influence the outcome of the next general election.
A back on the envelope calculation, if general elections to 17th Lok Sabha were held as scheduled, shows the vote-on-account for four months of the next financial year would have to be taken up in January and the notification for polls to be issued by the middle of February. No major policy making would be possible during the period. Even if some major announcements were made by the government, there are no chances of benefits flowing to the electorate and impacting his electoral choices. In short, the government is left with barely six months to push its agenda.
In the next few months, the ruling dispensation faces keenly fought elections to regional assemblies of North India. Traditional rival, the Congress party, will offer a stiff challenge to the BJP in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram. The results in these states would set the tone for the general elections scheduled in 2019.
The Monsoon session of Parliament beginning July 18 will set the tone for posturing with the general elections in mind. The chances of major legislative business being conducted in the 18 working day session remain bleak. Though the government has lined up several bills for discussion and passing, there is no pressing legislative agenda that awaits Parliamentary nod.
The opposition is gearing up to corner the government on the farm distress, shoddy implementation of Goods and Services Tax and lack of jobs. The Telugu Desam Party is also planning to press for a no-confidence motion against the government over special category state status being denied to Andhra Pradesh.
No business could be conducted in the Budget session as NDA ally All India Dravida Munnetram Kazhgam disrupted proceedings over delay in formation of the Cauvery Management Board. Many believed that the protest was engineered by the ruling alliance to prevent discussion on no trust motion.
The regular tours to various states by Prime Minister Modi and his trusted confidant BJP president Amit Shah are an indicator that the party’s well oiled giant electoral machinery is being geared to face tough electoral battles ahead.
The ace that Modi may spring to stun the opposition is awaited.