Will BJP cross 370-mark in LS? Prashant Kishore hints at ‘psychological’ warfare


“It’s a part of the psychological thing. It’s not a tangible game for the BJP. It’s a psychological blow to the Opposition,” Prashant Kishore said in an interview with India Today on March 29 when he was asked about the BJP’s ‘Abki baar 400 paar’ slogan.

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The political strategist, however, told the New Indian Express in a separate interview that a National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which is led by the BJP, “can improve their performance substantially”.

“They can easily add 10-20 per cent seats” to their tally from last elections,” Prashant Kishor said. “But it’s unlikely that the BJP would add around 70 more seats [to its 2019 elections tally when the party had won 303 seats] on its own” in the Lok Sabha Elections,” he said.

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BJP’s ‘psychological warfare’

Prashant Kishore called the BJP’s 370-mark target a part of its “psychological warfare”. In an interview with the New Indian Express, he emphasised “the shifting public narratives”.

He said the narrative shifted from “whether the BJP-NDA is winning or losing Vs whether the BJP will get 370 seats or not”.

In his analysis, Prashant Kishore said Prime Minister Narendra Modi making the statement in Parliament about achieving the 370 target made even his critics “take notice that if the PM is saying this…it is more likely to be the gospel truth”.

“That fact is it’s not. The BJP winning on its own 370 — probably is close to zero,” he said.

‘Nitish Kumar joining NDA is an example’

Prashant Kishor said Bihar is not going to give an advantage to the BJP. But, by bringing Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal (United) chief Nitish Kumar back into the NDA, the BJP gave a “psychological blow” to the Opposition.

He explained how…

The polls strategist doesn’t believe that the BJP took Nitish Kumar back into the NDA to add seats in Bihar. He indicated the BJP would make no major gains in Bihar Lok Sabha or even the Assembly elections.

“If you look, the BJP’s own number is going to be less in Bihar after taking Nitish Kumar, because they will be fighting less number of seats,” he told India Today.

However, in terms of perception, “Nitish was seen as somebody who brought everyone together to build this INDIA bloc. So by taking one of the architects out of it, the BJP gave a severe psychological blow to the Opposition…,” he said.

He reiterated that Nitish Kumar’s reentry into the NDA would reduce BJP’s number and “in the Assembly elections, BJP is going to pay the price for this. But they opted for it knowingly because they want to win the war and maybe lose the battle in Bihar”.

‘BJP not the only big political party’

Even if the NDA wins 370-400 seats, it doesn’t mean that there is no place for dissent in India, Kishor said.

Prashant Kishor said India “has seen bigger governments with 400 plus MPs”. He said the Congress, at its peak, used to have 2500 MLAs out of 4,000 MLA seats available in India. “But the BJP at its peak has got roughly 15,00-16,00 MLAs,” he told the New Indian Express.

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He noted that the narrative has been built “as if no party, no leader has been as popular and dominant as Mr Modi. It is not how it is.”

However, Prashant Kishore informed that in the early 70s, the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, had a “similar aura”. He critiqued that, “When you have 700 million people struggling to make their ends meet, you cannot take their support for granted.”

What works for the BJP?

In an interview with the Indian Express last month, Prashant Kishor said the BJP’s strategy has four layers to it. According to him, these were:

1. “Ideological base — that is Hindutava”

2. “Hypernationalism or neo-nationalism” – referring to idea of Viksit Bharat and India being a major world power

3. “Labharti (beneficiaries), direct delivery of governance”

4. “Electoral and political infrastructural muscle”

What’s not working for BJP?

Prashant Kishor had told the Indian Express that the BJP’s “under-performed by 3 percentage point” in the Assembly elections between 2014-2019. The party “underperformance” is reaching now “9 percentage points”, he said. So what’s not working for the BJP? He cited two reasons:

1. “Some of the leaders who PM Modi asked to vote for, didn’t deliver in the eyes of the people”

2. “PM Modi’s own charisma took a little bit of hit”

The voting for the Lok Sabha elections is set to begin on April 19. The election will take place in seven phases and the results will be announced on June 4. 

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Published: 02 Apr 2024, 06:10 AM IST


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