From the ed­i­tor- in- chief

India Today - - FROM THE EDITOR- IN- CHIEF - ( Aroon Purie)

There is a com­mon adage: “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” It could well ap­ply to the elec­torate whose man­date has been scorned and be­trayed. Our lat­est Mood of the Na­tion poll re­flects this in am­ple mea­sure against the mis­rule of UPA 2. Since 2009, there has been a steady de­cline in its pop­u­lar­ity but in Au­gust 2012, it has turned de­ci­sively against the regime. IN­DIA TO­DAY’s bian­nual opin­ion poll, con­ducted by The Nielsen Com­pany, makes sorry read­ing for the Congress and its top lead­er­ship. It will bring some cheer to the BJP, which now sits in pole po­si­tion with its al­lies in the NDA. And it will let loose the am­bi­tions of non- Congress, non- BJP par­ties which are set to be king­mak­ers when the next Gen­eral Elec­tions are held.

Ac­cord­ing to our poll, if elec­tions were to be held to­day, the UPA would get be­tween 171 and 181 seats, far fewer than the 259 it won in 2009. The big­gest loser in the UPA is the Congress. It is set to lose badly in many of its stronghold­s. In Andhra Pradesh, which pro­pelled both UPA 1 and UPA 2 to power, Ja­gan Mo­han Reddy’s YSR Congress is set to get a lion’s share of the seats at the ex­pense of the Congress which has en­gaged in a witch- hunt against the son of the pop­u­lar late chief min­is­ter Y. S. Ra­jasekhara Reddy. In Ra­jasthan, where the Congress won 21 out of 25 seats in 2009, it is likely to suf­fer heavy re­verse be­cause of the in­com­pe­tence of the Ashok Gehlot gov­ern­ment. The bad news isn’t re­stricted to these two states alone. The sim­mer­ing anger against the non- per­for­mance of the Man­mo­han Singh Gov­ern­ment has now reached boil­ing point.

Peo­ple are pes­simistic about this Gov­ern­ment’s abil­ity to push through eco­nomic re­forms. They are an­gry about cor­rup­tion. They are an­grier about in­fla­tion. The fury of In­dia’s cit­i­zens and the un­pop­u­lar­ity of the Union Gov­ern­ment are re­flected in the poor per­sonal rat­ings Prime Min­is­ter Singh gets— a steep fall for a man once re­garded as one of In­dia’s finest minds in pub­lic life. The prob­lems for Congress run deeper. While heir ap­par­ent Rahul Gandhi re­mains the most pop­u­lar can­di­date for the lead­er­ship of UPA, his pop­u­lar­ity as a fu­ture prime min­is­ter has steadily been fall­ing be­low that of Gu­jarat Chief Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi.

The lead­er­ship ques­tion is also a trou­ble­some one for the BJP and the NDA. Modi’s pop­u­lar­ity is hardly pan- In­dian, re­stricted to the North and West. He is also a deeply po­lar­is­ing fig­ure. How­ever, the BJP’s cen­tral lead­er­ship in Delhi is even less pop­u­lar. Only a mi­nor­ity of re­spon­dents in our poll could cor­rectly re­call the name of the Leader of the Op­po­si­tion in Par­lia­ment. The NDA would get around 200 seats if polls were held to­day. It, there­fore, has the ad­di­tional chal­lenge of broad­en­ing the al­liance to ac­tu­ally reach the ma­jor­ity mark. For that, the BJP needs to present a leader ac­cept­able across sev­eral al­lies. If it fails to do so, the ball may fall in the court of a non- BJP NDA leader. Bi­har Chief Min­is­ter Ni­tish Ku­mar has emerged as the most pop­u­lar choice for prime min­is­ter among non- BJP can­di­dates in the NDA.

Tech­ni­cally, the Gen­eral Elec­tions are a year and a half away, and that’s not a long time to res­ur­rect the for­tunes of Congress and UPA. The NDA needs to get its act to­gether and gather more al­lies if it is to har­vest this anger against the present Gov­ern­ment. The need of the hour is a sta­ble coali­tion al­ter­na­tive to the UPA, not a dis­as­trous Third Front- led ar­range­ment.


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