Date: April 3rd, 2014
Presented by Mr. Asghar Ali Shadand Translated by Saira Rehman
Venue: IPRI Conference Hall
Mr. Asghar Ali Shad presented a detailed analysis of Indian elections which are scheduled to be held from April 7 to May 12, 2014. The main objective of the talk was to discuss in length the Indian elections and possible result and its implications for Pakistan. The result for the 16th Lok Sabha elections will be announced on May 16, 2014. Political parties, number of seats in Lok Sabha and constituencies of the Indian Parliament, major political alliances, expected results and possible effects on Pakistan were discussed by Mr. Shad in detail. The Indo-Pak relations during Congress and BJP regimes were also compared. It was argued that during Vajpayee’s tenure as PM relations tended to improve while such a positive trend could not be seen during all the years the Congress has been in power. In the question-and-answer session, other IPRI scholars also participated and all possible implications for Pakistan were explored.
Indian Elections 2014
Political Parties and their current situation
- Indian elections 2014 will be conducted in nine phases from April 7 to May 12 and results will be announced on May 16.
- The number of registered parties with the Indian Election Commission are 1616. Recognized regional parties are 47 and the national parties are six in number. The national parties include:
- BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party)
- CPI ( Marxist)
- BSP ( Bahujan Samaj Party)
- NCP ( Nationalist Congress Party)
- Congress has nominated Rahul Gandhi as its prime ministerial candidate against Nerendra Modi from BJP. The main contest is between them. According to Indian pre-polls surveys and media pundits, BJP would make the next government with support of other parties.
- Another party, Aam Admi Party (AAP) led by Arvind kejriwal is being considered as a game changer in the light of what happened during last Delhi Assembly polls.
- It is estimated that BJP will be able to get 200 plus seats. 272 seats are required to make government.
- According to polls and analysis, Congress will score 100 seats or little above.
Regional Parties and Minorities
- Regional parties have gained considerable hold in the national politics but their stress is more on local politics and issues.
- Regional parties’ politics also affects the Muslim vote bank.
- The results from states of UP and Bihar will affect the overall election results.
- Muslim population which is officially 13 to 14 crores (but according to other sources it is more than 20 million) lacks national-level leadership — which is a dilemma and a major reason for its backwardness even though it is the second largest majority of India.
- Congress has disappointed the Muslim population by mere eye-wash slogans and false promises. For this reason, the Muslim vote bank is divided.
- Muslims of India would not be able to play any effective role in defeating BJP.
If Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Narendra Modi comes to Power
According to polls and current situation, there are bright chances that BJP will form the government, Narendra Modi as the Indian Prime Minister who claims to India’s leadership on the developmental model of Gujrat he introduced during his chief ministership of Gujrat.
- Modi plays politics of Hindu-nationalism instead of Indian-nationalism. It is also believed that Modi’s extremist views and ideology would be dangerous for the survival of India in its present shape.
- He is believed to have an anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan stance which he uses to bolster his position in India’s Hindutva lobby.
- There are chances of anti-Muslim riots erupting in India, if Modi comes to power. It is also believed that he was the main figure behind Gujrat riots which resulted in massive killing of Muslims.
- Modi has also used harsh language against China over India-China border issue. Likewise, if he comes to power, then India-US relations may also not nuch advance since the US twice rejected his visa on account of his role in Gujrat riots and his anti-America rhetoric.
- Modi has clear tilt towards Japan, Russia, Israel and South Korea. In case BJP forms government, Indian relations with these states would further get stronger.
Implications for Pakistan if BJP comes to Power
Mr. Shad in his presentation said that Congress had caused more damage to Pakistan than BJP. Congress sabotaged normalization of Pak-India relations. During BJP’s last tenure in government some positive initiatives took place like the ‘Dosti Bus Service’, visit of the then Indian Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Pakistan and his acceptance of Pakistan as a reality at the Minar-e-Pakistan. However, some analysts are of the view that strong and cordial relations between Akali Dal — Sikh political party led by Parkash Singh Badal — can be utilized for normalization of Pak-India relations by BJP since the current government of PML-N has good and workable relations with Akali Dal, especially between Punjab governments of the two states.
Question and Answer Session
The salient points of discussion are as under:
- Change in Indian leadership would not affect its foreign policy, even BJP would not change it.
- India would not give any strategic space to Pakistan whatsoever the poll outcome.
- Some Indian circles are of the view that there should not be any dialogue with Pakistan, let the things stand the way they are at least for a decade. So, it is believed that BJP would also toe this thinking.
- Given the not-very-good economic situation of India, BJP may maintain mutually beneficial trade relations with Pakistan.
- To contain China, India and US may come closer, however, not with that warmth and vigour as during Congress government.
The BJP success will matter more in India than any visible or new effects on Pak-India relations. Given the extremist views of Modi, it is sensed, he may adopt aggressive and harsh strategies against Pakistan. The Congress failed to deliver in its two consecutive terms. Corruption, economic sluggishness and suffering of religious minorities are the main indicators of its poor performance. Moreover, no great changes in Indian foreign policy should be expected no matter who comes into the power there. In the same context, Pakistan should continue to pursue its policy of keep engaging with India through dialogue at all levels.
Disclaimer: Views expressed are of the writer and are not necessarily reflective of IPRI policy.