Parliament will be in session shortly with the usual sparks but interest will be focused on the election results from Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat and the trends they indicate. I think we may find that all the noise and thunder we see on our TV screens today has little impact on politics on the ground. The Himachal results can go in either direction; the election is too difficult to predict. In Gujarat, the surprise will be if Narendra Modi does not win by a big margin. The campaign is rather violent and we see all animal forms from dinosaurs, lions, monkeys and rats being mentioned. This is very unfortunate, but many things are said and done during an election campaign. I hope this bitterness does not persist after the election.
Expect a furore in Parliament on the issue of FDI in multi-brand retail for everyone has a point to make on the subject. The Trinamool will be happy to support anyone willing to drag the government down. The Congress has had its mid-term Cabinet surgery, and will exhibit a certain amount of aggression. The BJP remains in two minds on surgery at its top, and will divert attention to a host of issues. Dual power bases have plagued the BJP and this latest self-generated crisis only shows the internal divisions within the RSS. It is time for the BJP to close ranks for 2014 and announce their candidate for the top job.
Things will change between now and 2014, but we are heading for another messy coalition. Here are my statewise projections for the 16th Lok Sabha elections as I see things now.
I have taken into account that former Karnataka chief minister B S Yeddyurappa will form his own party in Karnataka and we could be looking at a new alliance structure in the state. We could also see a new alliance in Jharkhand. The Winter Session of Parliament will indicate if the Trinamool is leaning towards the BJP; this is logical as a three-way fight between the TMC, Left and the Congress will not suit Mamata. The AIADMK looks very much in control in Tamil Nadu despite changes in the coalition structure.
The figures look confusing, and they are, but there is also a positive in this as every major party will remain relevant regardless of who wins or loses an election. There is also the issue of flexible allies both within and outside a possible coalition. All this indicates to me that the Congress and BJP, or even the Third Front, may have to look for a figure of 300-325 seats for stability, and that regional forces will get a larger slice of the pie to make things quite different from what we have in UPA II.