A Union for Ram
To understand why a new union for Mission Lakshmi is needed, it is important to address two questions: how the union for Ram was crafted and why the same union cannot deliver Lakshmi.
As I analysed past election data in 2010, it became clear to me that a very different approach was needed for the BJP to return to power. In both the 1998 and 1999 elections, the BJP under Vajpayee was unable to cross 182 seats in the Lok Sabha. After that the number had declined to a low 116 in 2014. The late Anil Dave asked me a question that set me thinking: find out how many Lok Sabha seats the BJP has won at least once in its history since 1980 when the BJP was formed. I crunched the numbers. The answer was 299. (The delimitation exercise done in 2008 meant that the seats were not all identical.)
I then asked myself a new question: what would it take for the BJP to win a majority on its own in the next Lok Sabha election? Instead of just getting more than 182, what strategy would the BJP need to win 272+ on its own? This held the answer for the future campaign. I wrote out my ideas in a series of public blog posts in June 2011 – “Project 275 for 2014.” (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.) An extract (with emphasis as it was in the original post):
For the BJP to form a govt at the Centre, it needs to focus winning not just 175 but 275 seats (or 225 + 45 with the three current NDA allies). Winning 275 needs a dramatically different strategy from trying to win 175. To get to 275 seats out of 350-odd seats, the BJP needs to ensure a “wave” election with a 75% hit rate. That needs to be focus of future efforts. A summation of state elections will only get us to 175-odd, and if the Congress manages 150, BJP will not be able to form the government.
A wave election last happened in India in 1984. BJP’s approach needs to be to work towards creating a wave in 2014 – across the country, and especially in the 330-350 seats where the BJP is competitive. No one, as far as I can tell, is thinking of what it takes to create a wave. 2014 may still be three years ago, but a lot of groundwork will need to be done to make this happen.
Switch focus from maximising allies to maximising seats for 2014. All strategy needs to be focused on this.
Modi’s BJP did this – not once, but twice. The “wave” covered the entire Hindi belt and West, with some overflow from a few other states. The “Black Swan” event of 2014 re-occurred in 2019. It was a union of voters that delivered entire states to BJP in clean sweeps. Modi’s BJP did what had seemed impossible after the Congress majorities in the early 1980s – a single-party majority in the Lok Sabha. While the Kamal was the election symbol on the EVMs, Ram was in the hearts and minds for a huge cross-section of voters. The 2019 Supreme Court judgement completed the mission that had begun in the late 1980s – a recognition of Ram’s birthplace and a magnificent temple complex to make it permanent for future generations.
Most of the union of voters that made BJP’s victory possible will probably not even visit Ayodhya ever. The Ram mandir will not make a material difference to their lives. This is where there is a need for the next mission – to bring Lakshmi into every Indian’s home, a mission neglected by every Indian government. That will make a material difference in the lives of Indians. The leaders who delivered Ram are incapable of delivering Lakshmi – just as the party that was in power during Independence could never deliver Ram. Once again, a new union of Indians is needed to create an electoral wave.