The BJP can be defeated in 2024 general elections. It is an “entirely possible” scenario, believes election strategist Prashant Kishor, who said he wants to help an opposition bloc do that.
“Is it possible to defeat the BJP in 2024? The answer is an emphatic yes. But is it possible with the present set of players and formations? Probably no,” Kishor told NDTV in an interview.
Kishor stressed that this might be possible even if BJP comes to power after the current assembly elections in the five states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur.
“It is quite possible that BJP wins everything in this round and still goes on to lose 2024 (polls). In 2012, UP was won by SP (Samajwadi Party), Uttarakhand by Congress, Manipur by Congress, Punjab by Akalis, but the result in 2014 was very different,” he said in the interview.
Spelling out the specifics, he said it was crucial for opposition parties to expand their voter base.
“Expanding the social base is vital if you want to take on the BJP in UP. The social base of the combined opposition has to be bigger than what it is today… whether it is non-Yadav OBCs or more consolidation of Dalits or forward classes.”
Going into the numbers, he said: “If you take Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha, Telangana, Andhra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala — roughly 200 [Lok Sabha] seats, even at the peak of their popularity, the BJP has been able to win only 50-odd seats. In the remaining 350 seats, the BJP is sweeping everything,” he said.
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“What it tells you is that if the Congress or Trinamool or any other party or combination of these parties realign themselves, and reboot their resources and strategy, and say they pull about 100 seats from the 200, then the opposition can reach 250-260 even with the present numbers. So, it (defeating the BJP) is possible by winning another 100 seats in the north and west,” he said.
There was also the issue of around 200 Lok Sabha seats in India having a largely two-way fight between the Congress and the BJP, he said. As the ruling party was able to get 95% of these seats, it gave them an instant advantage of 190 seats, enabling them to reach the 272-majority mark with ease out of the 543 seats in the Lok Sabha.
On the BJP’s strength, Kishor said the party had put up a very “formidable narrative” using issues of Hindutva, hyper-nationalism and public welfare. The opposition parties are too far behind in these aspects and need to outdo them on at least two of these areas.
The political strategist said to defeat the BJP, one needs to have a 5-10-year perspective. “It cannot be done in five months. But it will happen. That’s the power of democracy. ”
“I want to help form an opposition front that can give a stronger fight in 2024,” he said. “My life is not driven by this idea of defeating a person or a party. I do think that in our country, we need strong opposition. I personally feel more aligned to [the opposition ideology. And that the Congress as an idea should not be allowed to be weakened.”
He also emphasised on the need for opposition parties to do more than just unite in “grand alliance” for the namesake.
“Not a single ‘grand alliance’ has succeeded since Bihar 2015. Merely coming together of parties and leaders will not be sufficient. You need to have the narrative and a coherent outfit,” Kishor said.