Can Narendra Modi be defeated in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections? Two answers are being offered to this question, both opposed to each other. The first answer is, it is almost impossible to defeat Modi in 2019, as surveys suggest his popularity still remains high, the BJP government’s performance is evaluated positively and finally there is no viable alternative to his leadership among opposition parties. The counter-narrative is, yes Modi would be defeated in 2019 as he has failed to deliver what he had promised, farmers across the country are unhappy, the youth disenchanted due to the government’s failure to create jobs and there are signs of unhappiness among several sections of voters. This argument is being strengthened by citing the verdict of 2004. It is being argued that if a popular prime minister like Atal Behari Vajpayee and his government could be defeated by a weak Congress and fragmented opposition in 2004, why can’t Modi, an equally popular prime minister running a well-liked government, be defeated?
No political party and leader can claim to be invincible, and that applies to Modi and the ruling BJP as well. But in order to defeat a popular government, either the opposition needs to emerge stronger than the ruling party, or if no single party in opposition is strong enough to defeat the ruling party alone, some of the opposition parties need to come together. The current political situation is far from any of the two possible scenarios. The Congress doesn’t seem to have emerged stronger than the BJP, and the opposition parties haven’t managed to form any alliance against the BJP. Such a political scenario makes me believe that it is extremely difficult to defeat Modi in 2019. The Congress certainly can’t defeat Modi alone; only alliances between some opposition parties can pose a challenge for Modi, though not enough to bring down the BJP below 200 seats. Even with the best coordination among political parties in forming an anti-BJP alliance, they can’t restrict the BJP from emerging as the single-largest party next year.