The Final Countdown: With just months left to 2019's general election, religion and region will dominate politics now

Seema Gupta
Seema GuptaDec 29, 2018 | 11:10

The Final Countdown: With just months left to 2019's general election, religion and region will dominate politics now

The broad outlines of the discourse ahead of the Lok Sabha elections seem clear.

The year 2019 will witness many sharp clashes and contrasts in politics. The two broad dimensions to the discourse ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha polls are going to be — religious politics and regional politics.

From religious polarisations to caste mobilisation to regional political equations, all of these will have a starring role to play in the high-stakes general elections.  

Among the leading big questions surrounding the upcoming elections is, of course — will Narendra Modi survive as PM? If so, at what cost?


Within the more intricate picture, we will see small caste-based outfits increasingly holding big value for the major national parties.

Which of these two will win, and at what cost? The Big Question: Which of these two will win — and at what cost? (Photo: Reuters/file)

At the national level, many survey reports indicate the rising popularity of Rahul Gandhi. But this is not enough when it comes to states politics — here, local issues and caste calculations decide matters. This will mean a great deal of dependence on regional parties, and many kinds of fronts and alignments taking shape.

Already, talks are on for such alliances. Mayawati, Sharad Pawar, Mamata Banerjee, Chandrababu Naidu, K Chandrashekar Rao (KCR), Akhilesh Yadav and Naveen Patnaik will be the key players in these political tie-ups.

Among them, many are keeping their options open as of now. Uttar Pradesh, with a huge 80 seats in the Lok Sabha, is understandably the most-watched state, and the clincher for the BJP’s strategic chances. Political pundits suggest that Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati fighting together will put up a good show, only compounding the BJP’s difficulties.

KCR has been meeting regional leaders to form a 'Federal Front'. KCR has been meeting important regional leaders reportedly to form an anti-Congress, anti-BJP 'Federal Front'. (Photo: PTI/file)

Interestingly, neither of the two regional leaders has yet spelt out their definitive course of action. Akhilesh Yadav recently praised KCR for his efforts to cobble together an anti-Congress, anti-BJP ‘Federal Front’ of the regional parties, and said he was keeping his options open between the Federal Front and the Grand Alliance, which includes the Congress. Mayawati, too, is not willing to show her cards yet.


So, around 100 days before the elections, the outlines are bold and clear.

Hindutva in all its forms — ‘Soft’ and ‘Hard’— is here to stay.

Both the ‘Right Wingers’ and the ‘Liberals’ will raise their voices.

Tiffs between ‘tolerance’ and ‘aggression in the name of religion’ should be expected.

Yet, in the midst of all this, the Dalit, OBC and minority vote-banks will decide the final permutations and combinations.

And possibly, the final winners too.

Last updated: December 29, 2018 | 11:10
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