From karyakartas to netas, everyone in the Bharatiya Janata Party has been dreaming about 272 – the number of seats required in the Lok Sabha to stake claim to form a government. For the last few months, they have been living out this dream through a slew of props, such as 'Mission 272' badges, caps, and a website — Mission 272+. Now that eight crucial phases of the general elections have taken place, the discourse is gradually shifting to the number of seats the party will win.
Most political observers and commentators expect three likely scenarios for the BJP post-May 16. The first scenario predicts that the BJP will get about 240 seats, on the back of people's disgust with the Congress-rule, the corruption and rising prices in the last decade. The second scenario says the BJP will get between 205-210 seats, dented by the emergence of an alternative in the form of the Aam Aadmi Party. The third and the worst-case scenario for the BJP is if it gets 185-190 seats on the back of voters reposing faith in regional players.
Let us take the first scenario in which BJP, the lead partner of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), bags 240 seats. This will be possible only if the party bags at least 50 seats in Uttar Pradesh, 40 seats in Maharashtra and 25 in Bihar. Such a performance would vindicate the much-debated existence of a "Modi wave" and the Gujarat development model. Major NDA partners such as Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) in Andhra are contesting on 20 and 30 seats respectively. In short, NDA – the 29 party alliance — will then easily pull through.
In the second scenario, wherein the BJP gets about 210 seats, the party will have to demonstrate political craftsmanship in weaving an alliance by reaching out to partners. Not only will it have to reach out to existing partners, but also form new alliances. In this case, the BJP can go to AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa and YSR Congress' Jaganmohan Reddy besides erstwhile partners such as Naveen Patnaik of Biju Janata Dal (BJD). Jayalalithaa and Jagan will be to the BJP what Samajwadi Party and RJD are to the Congress, owing to the criminal cases pending against them.
Off the record, many political pundits claim that the third scenario is the most likeliest and that the BJP will be restricted to 175 seats. In this case, the BJP will have to reach out to the three ladies simultaneously — Jayalalithaa, Mayawati and Mamata Bannerjee.
"Mamata Banerjee will not support the BJP owing to the Modi factor," a political analyst told dna on condition of anonymity. "However, BJP will still try to form the government with 175 seats because it will send a wrong signal if they do not act then. There is a strong likelihood of Rajnath Singh and LK Advani coming together in such a scenario."
The third scenario will also drive the Congress to support a minority government from outside.
"With whatever numbers it will have, the Congress may then support a Third Front government from outside," another political commentator, Urmilesh, said.
In such a scenario, political parties such as BSP, SP, JD (U), Trinamool Congress, RJD and the Left will get outside support from the Congress on a secular platform. But will such a warring coalition work?