India Election 2019 Thread

Lately, we have been talking a lot of things about South Asia but not much on what is supposed to be the biggest event in the calendar for 2019, India General Elections 2019 scheduled to start 11th April and continue till May. Looking at the Opinion Polls it seems that BJP’s election fortune has become much brighter since the dustup with Pakistan. Although foreign issues do not dominate Indian elections that much. Domestically, general Indian people still seem to regard Modi as a better steward for the Indian economy than Rahul or any other alternatives. I have no opinion on the probable results as I have little knowledge and expertise. Let those who are more informed opine here freely on the elections. Not just probable outcomes but also about social, economic and political directions that this elections may bring about.


19th March : ” Times Now and VMR survey is back with yet another batch of poll-related data and analysis. In the current survey, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is predicted to grab 283 out of 543 Lok Sabha seats, UPA – 135 and Others – 125.

In the last survey, the Times Now-VMR poll had shown that the NDA would have been 21 seats short of the half-way mark had 2019 Lok Sabha Elections been held in January.”

62 thoughts on “India Election 2019 Thread”

  1. One thing is for sure — the Indian voter as an aggregate personality is way savvier and more sophisticated than most commentators appreciate. You just can’t bullshit all the people all of the time. My prediction (and the least worst outcome in spite of my reflexive dislike of the current incarnation of the BJP):

    In spite of what opinion polls might be indicating now, the BJP will indeed get the most seats but not by much. They will fall quite a bit short of a majority. In the process of assembling a coalition, Modi will be ousted. India gets a new BJP PM and the toxic twins Modi and Shah go. You can’t run a country of 1.3 billion people like a mafia. Many important cabinet positions are currently held by pliant lackeys (does anyone really believe Sushma Swaraj has any power other than agony aunt on twitter? Or Sitharaman?) Modi’s inability to delegate and and trust anyone other than a tight inner circle is causing critical logjams at multiple levels in the bureaucracy and something has to give.

    The competent running by qualified individuals (rather than yes monkeys) of India’s main institutions will be restored. The Indian state at the highest levels is a functional technocracy. Note that the impulse to dislodge Modi will come just as much from within the BJP — the party’s internal culture of democracy is too strong and they have alienated a lot of competent folks.

    That’s just my two paise. Caveat emptors abound. As mentioned at the start, expect the unexpected in an election as critical as this one…

    1. “In the process of assembling a coalition, Modi will be ousted”

      There is no one other than Modi who will get to rule BJP even if BJP is around 200 seats. Its different from last time time (1999-2004) where BJP had 2 similar stature leaders who they could alternate. Today BJP is dependent on Modi and not the other way around. Its like AKP ruling Turkey without Erdogan, or PTI sans Imran Khan. I think if the BJP loses they would much rather have the opposition rule for 6 months-1 year before pulling it down and go for elections again with their mojo intact, rather than have a non Modi BJP PM (not that Modi will allow it)

      P.S The party internal culture is long destroyed and now there is no alternate power base within the party to challenge Modi. Mostly people who cannot win a municipality even if their life dependent on it are the ones challenging Modi (Sinha,Shouries,Swaraj,Gadkari,Rajnath)

      1. I agree for around 200 seats. The scenario I wishfully predicted above probably only becomes plausible around 160-180 seats (but BJP still largest party). Modi will seem like a liability and his arrogance will be even more unbecoming then. His unsuccessful campaigning in Rajasthan, Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh on behalf of BJP candidates shows that his magic is wearing off with voters…

        1. With 160-180 seats BJP (even with a non Modi PM) wont/cant form the Govt just like Rajiv couldn’t in 89

          1. It’s not unprecedented though. As recently as 2004, Congress formed a govt with 145 that lasted its full term.

          2. You missed the most crucial element. Both in 89 and 2004 there was a principal third player (BJP in 89, Left in 2004) which had high enough seats and was already pre disposed to go with one side over the other(BJP with Janta party, Left with Congress) which made one side form the Govt and not the other.

            That;s the same thing today where irrespective of numbers there are regional parties (TMC,DMK,SP,Left,AAP,RJD) which cannot go with the BJP even if its short by 1 seat. That;s why today, Congress does not think twice before pushing these regional parties away because it knows they have no other way out but to back Congress after the election.

    2. Would be interested to know who you think would be an alternate PM candidate in BJP.

      1. No one in particular stands out to me at this moment, but a fair amount has been written about Gadkari being a contender if the BJP fails to secure a majority. The RSS command knows they can ply him much better than Modi/ Shah at this point.

        In 2004 opinion polls were similarly predicting a comfortable BJP win. They ended up losing a lot of seats because the RSS rank and file didn’t hit the streets for the BJP like they did in ’99. Some authors have suggested a similar dynamic is at play in this election.

        1. If RSS wanted to play kingmaker, shouldn’t they also be reaching out to INC or other parties? Seems to me they should either go all in on the BJP, or put their eggs in other baskets.

          1. To say that the relationship between the BJP and the RSS is complicated would be an understatement. Did you hear Mohan Bhagwat’s speech at the RSS samvad back in September?


            Many commentators viewed it as a distinct rebuke to the direction the BJP had taken of late. This timed nicely with Gadkari starting to pipe up a lot more. This could all be stage managed hedging, but the bare minimum one can conclude is that Modi/ Shah no longer have a carte blanche with the top brass.

            The RSS and Congress are sworn enemies. No way in hell they’ll ever co-conspire!

    1. Not sure what is so shocking about this tweet?

      J&K is a mountainous state. There is only one national highway which connects it to the rest of the country. Naturally administrators have to apply their mind before closing roads. I find nothing objectionable with the tweet. Am I missing something?

        1. From what I gather on facebook, the issue is one of restricting the movements of locals for the convenience of the Indian Army. This naturally would cause great hardship to people, especially in emergency situations.

          NC is a pro-India party and not at all one that wants Kashmiri independence.

    1. Survival of Indian democracy is one of the great feats of modern human civilization, perhaps no less spectacular than Chinese economic revival.

      1. Very true. The Soviets tried to infiltrate India from the 1940s onwards and colonize the minds of Indians with post modernism, inferiority complex, divide and conquer. They attempted to deconstruct Indians causing them to be embarrassed by, hate and reject their ancient history, civilization, culture, religion, spirituality, art, literature, institutions, ancestors and elders.

        Post modernism divides brainwashed peoples into many categories of oppressed and oppressors (mostly manufactured irrational concepts) to turn different groups of people against each other; implying that power oppression rather than meritocratic competence defined local hierarchies; and to prevent people from gaining the benefits of team work. Another objective was to create inferiority complexes by brainwashing people with the lie that they were weak, oppressed and unable to manifest their own miracles.

        This Russian backed effort is called by some “breaking India forces”. Today post modernism heavily influences academia, government and institutions in India; but Indians are fighting back.

        1. Soviets were not the only ones attempting to influence Indian opinion. CIA backed many projects to get prominent Indian intellectuals on their payroll.

          However, the nature of Indian society is such – anarchy and resistance to political dogma being its salient features – such efforts were unlikely to make a big difference. For the same reason efforts to whip up communal disharmony (from many different quarters) have all failed to make a significant dent.

          1. Arjun, the only allegations I am aware of the CIA supporting Indian groups relates to Hindu and Buddhist organizations or classical European enlightenment classical liberal organizations.

            This strikes me as possible Nehruvian and Indira propaganda since both of them did not understand or like eastern philosophy and its partial offshoot European enlightenment classical liberalism.

            Personally I am a fan of eastern philosophy and European enlightenment classical liberalism. 🙂

      2. Indians cannot congratulate too much on their democracy. Democracy must also deliver reasonable economic progress , quality of life and some political stability. Otherwise it is running on empty.
        The weakness of Indian democracy is widespread identity politics and seeking restitution and compensation for your group.

      3. That is a bullshit view. India is a Hindutvadi paradise where Muslims are lynched to protect cows and people defecate on the streets and Kashmiris face never ending occupation of their land. India was not even a country until Mughals and British formed it into one. It will most likely disintegrate. Cannot keep so many dirt poor people happy with a illusory power of vote that barely changes their lives.

        1. Agree with Zack. This comment seems like a caricature of Hindutvadi comments about Pakistan. India does have serious problems but it is not likely to disintegrate.

          1. ” India does have serious problems but it is not likely to disintegrate.”

            Well we all are just hoping against the odds that Pakistan doesn’t stop trying at least 😛

        2. Imagine sitting on your comfortable a*se in the west and being obsessed with a shit-hole country, which you aren’t even ancestrally connected to. Must sure be fun.

          Maybe I should also start leaving salty comments on Nigerian or Peruvian Pundits blog or something.

          1. Prats, India is rising and continually improving. 🙂

            India will in one generation be a richer and higher income country than the USA. [Obviously not per capita. :LOL: ]

            The closer to the ground one gets in India the more beautiful, inspirational and great She is.

        3. Now I’m known around Twitter as a India Pessimist, but even I have a more balanced take than this…Jesus Christ man, what is your beef with India lol.

          Oh, and India’s time to disintegrate was in the 1960s, when it was fighting serious conventional wars, had Africa-level growth, and couldn’t even feed itself. Today’s problems are small stuff compared to that.

    2. Impressive in many ways, but is it a unique accomplishment? Much of the world has moved in that direction. The list of constitutional republics without UAF is quite small.

      1. It’s unique in scale and complexity. You could probably count the number of successful multi-ethnic, multi-lingual democracies on one hand and still have a few fingers to spare.

        1. The only countries in the world that rival the freedom, diversity, richness of thought, openness and human rights of India are Canada and the United States.

          Europeans lack India’s human rights greatness. India has for thousands of years represented freedom of art and thought (and freedom of various subtleties of thought).

          These values (and classical liberalism) are under assault in Europe today. Many Europeans now believe in an irrational concept called “hate speech” which they interpret to be any speech that questions post modern orthodoxy.

          Muslims in Europe are often accused of Islamaphobia. Europeans often back Islamists against European citizen non Islamist muslims. Sufis, Irfan and various muslim minorities feel under threat in Europe (violent threats from Islamists and charges of Islamaphobia from nonmuslims).

          To my knowledge only in India (and the US and Canada) can a Sufi, Shiite and minority muslim openly and safely practice their faith. The Indian police and Indian army protect them. The general society honors and respects them.

        2. SP- yes, I have trouble thinking of a single other country that has as many major ethnic and linguistic groups. This is concerning because it speaks to the idea that India is a multinational successor state to an empire, and not very elegantly conceived.

          1. Razib, Papua New Guinea came to mind as well, but I dismissed it more as a hotspot of anthropological diversity, as opposed to India having various literate regional cultures and corresponding unique historical states associated with them (eg the Odiya people and Kalinga).
            Pakistan and Nigeria are multinational states of a sort as well. Being somewhat more compact, the extremities of their cultural geography dont stand out in as high relief.

      2. I mean the survival and unity of the Indian democratic republic is rearkable because so many preconditions of democracy go against India. High and endemic poverty, ethnic and religious fractionalization, and most critically in my view very conservative and communitarian value system of the people. The values map of world values survey show that India is in a neighbodhood, in values terms, that is not very conducive for democracy.

        1. Shafiq, India is well suited to a free society. The people are freer, more plural, more open, more embracing of diversity than the elites (whose minds were colonized by the English) or the constitution.

          India’s constitutions was heavily modified because of the 1947 riots to back Islamists against non Islamist muslims . . . reducing the freedom of the Indian people.

          India has done better than some might have expected in resisting post modernist ideology.

          Indian muslims have done an amazing job in being the most plural, diverse, open, respectful of other faiths, and universalist large muslim population in the world.

          India had enormous challenges with:
          —incompetent institutions bequeathed by the English
          —low levels of physical health, mental health and intelligence because of English mismanagement
          —low levels of capacity, competence and merit
          —powerful external adversaries (communists, post modernists, Islamist)
          —organized crime syndicalists

          I don’t understand what the following means:
          “very conservative and communitarian value system of the people”
          A majority of the worshipers in many Indian muslim holy places are nonmuslim. Muslims pray at non muslim shrines en mass. Most poor Indians are very embracing of diversity, culture and difference.

  2. Only thing that worries me about the upcoming general election is the barrage of stupid messages from BJP wallahs that will flood my whatsapp. Modi and his team is single-handedly responsible for 80% of the fake news in circulation on whatsapp.

    1. I think already this election is less charged than the last one. We are already closer to the first phase of voting and all the candidates are still to be declared as well as both sides are facing sort of haltering election campaign

  3. Asking as an ABCD with little knowledge of Indian politics.

    Who is likely to become prime minister if BJP loses ?

    I know some people in my family who supported Modi last time, just because the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family was widely regarded as being ill-suited to becoming Prime Minster.

  4. Bharat Ratna Lata Mangeshkar sings a song inspired by Modi’s poem.

    Amitabh Bachchan And Ratan Tata Join PM Narendra Modi’s ‘Swachhata Hi Seva’ Drive

    Lata Mangeshkar, Amitabh Bacchan, Ratan Tata. Just think about it. These people have NEVER lost anything in their lives. Does anyone seriously think they are going to lose?


      Also, check out the latest entry in the wiki aggregate table:

      NDA coming in only at 204, of which AIADMK + SS must account for at least 20+, so BJP not doing as well as some commentators here think. I’m just curious about all the folks here who are confident the BJP are going to walk home with this — were you politically sentient in 2004? I can’t help but see parallels, including reports that the RSS rank and file are not hitting the ground with this election like they did in the previous one.

      Also, regarding the poll entries in the table in the wikipedia article — I’ve been following this for over a month and quite suspiciously, a poll in Jan/Feb that gave UPA a small majority now no longer appears as an entry. BJP IT cell definitely at work here, but even they can’t put enough lipstick on this pig.

      1. Wow! That’s a stunner! I am curious about the body languages and moods of politicians and partisan personalities. Who is eing more confident or who are defensive. Since I don’t consume Indian media much, I want to know from personal impression of people who do.

  5. “I’m just curious about all the folks here who are confident the BJP are going to walk home with this — were you politically sentient in 2004”

    The election has crucial similarities and differences from 2004. This election is a “normal” election like 2004. Which is where its advantage Congress. The RSS rank and file have participated only when there is an existential crisis to them (1977,2014).

    But there are differences too. The BJP is not as weak state wise as it was in 2004. In 2004 it was more of a central power than state power, while the Congress still controlled more states than BJP. This helps you clock more seats in a “normal” election. To give you an example the BJP can hope to hold on to 50 percent seats in UP,Bihar,Maharashtra(India’s top 3 states in seats) because its the ruling power in all three of them.

    All this would arrest the slide of BJP. There are other differences like Modi-Shah are just better than Vajpayee-Advani and all. The BJP has to minimize their loses , not really look for a “win”.

  6. @SP

    Tbh that doesn’t make any sense. I was led to believe that the RSS was a bunch of Nazi-esque thugs and murderers, or at best a kind of saffron-colored Muslim Brotherhood. They seem rather banal in the news article you sent me.

    1. I’m really not one to defend the RSS, but there’s about 5 million of them. If they really were Nazis, murderous thugs etc, India would have gone up in flames a long time ago. Lazy caricatures in the western media are to be taken with a big grain of salt, and are definitely not helpful in understanding who they are and the role they play in Indian society and politics.

  7. @Shafiq

    “I mean the survival and unity of the Indian democratic republic is rearkable because so many preconditions of democracy go against India. High and endemic poverty, ethnic and religious fractionalization, and most critically in my view very conservative and communitarian value system of the people. ”

    This are EXACTLY the reasons why democracy has actually flourished in India. In India had the economic well off middle and upper class had more power than India would have seen “less” democracy and not more (aka like Pakistan, where the financial well off army controls the levers of power)

    “But the most important reason why it is hard for anyone to organize India’s poor against the rich is that such a system already exists—in the form of electoral politics. As long as the poor believe that they own politics, they will find greater release in that legitimate revolution than in self-destructive rage.”

    India’s poor are the insurance policy of its democracy, because unlike the upper echelons the results of politics affects them the most.

    1. Saurav, India’s poor are remarkable.

      Many are highly intelligent, wise, emotionally mature, and retain ancient rich cultures, values and civilization. With very low crime rates, low divorce rates, low out of wedlock birth rates, strong families, strong communities, strong faith and healthy food/living habits. Many retain strong ancient narrative stories, dancing, art, and sound brain therapy (in the form of song, music and recitation.) I believe that these increase measurable IQ, mental health and physical health, and would love to see research to verify this.

      It is very easy to facilitate their rise. Small amounts of money in the form of school scholarships and inexpensive preventive primary medicine dramatically socio-economically empower them. India’s ROI on development spending is very high by global standards.

      This is India’s great strength.

      By contrast Europe and America seem more dysfunctional and decaying the closer one looks.

      Many poor engage in high rates of crime, high rates of out of wedlock births, high divorce rates. Many have weak families, communities and faith. Many have significant physical health, mental health and intelligence challenges. Many have large and growing inferiority complexes, self confidence challenges and self destructive habits.

      The ROI on development spending on the poor in Europe and America is often less than 0%. In other words the more money and time that is spent on helping poor people, the worse off poor people become.

      Of course there is a large selection bias. In Europe and America the poor are about a third of the population. When India’s poor drop to 1/3 of the population, India’s poor will also have many of the same challenges on average as Western poor.

      However India is a long way away from reaching a 1/3 poverty rate.

      It is also worth noting that America’s poor use to have more mental health, physical health, intelligence, family, community, faith, vocation in the past. With low crime rates, low out of wedlock births, low divorce rates.

      The relative collapse of the western poor is recent.


      In India the poor have tended to be more intelligent, sophisticated, mature, spiritual, cultured, respectful of diversity than the elites. India’s pluralism, diversity and universalism live through her poor.

      The west has traditionally been the opposite.

      Why the difference?

  8. There’s no communal polarization in UP unlike in 2014 following Muzaffarnagar Jat Muslim violence. Result is that due to lack of the polarization, you get some Muslims being pro BJP and most Hindus back to voting along caste lines… And because there’s way more Hindus than Muslims, this harms BJP prospects.

    Read this very well researched neutral ground level analysis from the same western UP area for this time. This is grassroots view into how folks operate in villages…

    This is how it works in Indian democracy unfortunately. Folks in Bengal are also very pro Modi but salivating at the chance of Mamata becoming the PM (myself included a bit). Modi rallies crowds are huge in Bengal, but won’t translate into enough votes.

    I wonder if there’s a hung assembly, Amit Shah offers Mamatadidi outside support to MahaTHUGbandhan to keep India Congress mukt. If I’m not getting Modi as PM I don’t want some roads minister like Gadkari as PM, give me Didi any day. Gadkari needs to prove at least as a CM first. Oh, and no Pappu

    1. Bjp will not give anyone outside support just like it didn’t give JDS outside support in Karnataka. They would much rather have the opposition form the govt and pull down the govt in year or so and again go for election with the same slogan of ”strong government” ( which would have even more impetuous at that time )

      If at all Bjp wants to give outside support , would rather project its own ally leader ( like nitish Kumar ) rather than mamta who is their sworn enemy

      1. TMC is not really “sworn enemy” of Modi/BJP like that. A lot of that is posturing. TMC core ideology is legacy of Bengal Congress a la Sarat Bose, there’s latent Hindutva inbuilt. When push comes to shove they come through like with GST Council. CPM calls it match fixing lol.

        Amit Shah did the tie up with PDP to keep JK Congress mukt so such things are not beyond them imho

  9. @gimrit India is a land that pre-existed the British. Please don’t peddle in their tropes.

    @razib I know you were responding to gimrit, but the original comment was in response to an assertion that there are very few other successful multi-ethnic, mult-lingual democracies. Nigeria has been under military dictatorship in multiple epochs (Fela Kuti had to have something to protest against!) PNG is an insanely diverse democracy for sure, but only since 1975, and there have been coup attempts and they’re less a country than an Australian (soon to be Chinese) colony at the moment.

    Switzerland and India. That’s it. Both impressive accomplishments for diametrically opposite reasons…

    1. SP- As much as the arbitrariness of india may be a colonial/churchillian put down, so perhaps is the unqualified idea of its unity. One must view the subcontinent from a certain distance not to notice its obvious distinctions (calling it no more a country than the equator was droll). In a way, the idea that indians are all the same and don’t have distinctions worthy of diverse statehood ambitions is truly patronising, and inheriting that view in the form of pan-indian nationalism may be the manifestation of an inferiority complex, rather than the refutation of one.
      Switzerland’s diversity is on the scale of a single indian state I’d say. Three languages and two major religious denominations. Karnataka alone is more diverse on both counts and 4x the area.

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