Election tracker: BJP has edge, but Cong, others in the race too For the locked-in-battle BJP and Congress there is both good news and bad news from the final results of CNN-IBNâ€™s Election Tracker opinion poll. For the BJP, the good news is that were elections held today, it would emerge as the single largest party with a total between 156 and 164 seats. The bad news is that the tally is well short of an emphatic win and could leave the BJP struggling to find enough allies to form the next government. For the Congress, the bad news is that its final tally forecast is to be in the range of 131-139 which is a serious slump from its present tally of 206 seats. The good news for the grand old party is that if it can somehow push its seats up by 15-20 between now and the elections, it could have a realistic shot of forming UPA 3 aided by the desperate allying call of â€œsecularism.â€ The bad news for both the Congress and BJP is that the UPA and NDA as they are currently constituted will win a combined total of around 329 seats (153 UPA and NDA 176). The balance of power in the form of 224 seats will belong to the â€œOthers.â€ The result of the CNN-IBN poll, should it translate into a general election outcome, is reminiscent of the 1996 Lok Sabha election when the BJP won 165 seats, the Congress won 148 and the â€˜Othersâ€™ won 230 seats. The BJP wasnâ€™t able to gather enough allies to form a sustainable government. The Congress had to accept moral defeat after it had lost more than 80 seats. The â€˜Othersâ€™ eventually emerged not just kingmakers, but also king. So is India headed for a Third Front/Federal Front government in 2014 led by several regional chieftans and supported by one of the two national parties? Possibly, but the General Elections as scheduled are still nine months away. A lot can change. For the BJP, the outcome of the CNN-IBN Election Tracker should be deeply disappointing. The party, though significantly up from its dismal 2009 performance (when it won just 116 seats) has failed to fully leverage the widespread anger and discontentment against the UPA, which has now been incumbent for nine years. The BJPâ€™s own internal divisions on the issue of leadership have damaged its credibility. If the party â€” with its abundant problem of finding allies amidst several â€˜secularistâ€™ pretenders â€” has to form a government in 2014, it must do better than a range of 156-164 to rise to 180-190. That means an additional 20-30 seats. [video]http://www.firstpost.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/All_india_seat_Share.jpg[/video] It would certainly help the BJP prospects if it ends all ambiguity about its leadership and anoints a Prime Ministerial candidate. On evidence of the popular mood, that would have to be Narendra Modi who happens to be the top choice of respondents in the CNN-IBN poll for the Prime Ministerial job. But Modi has a tough task getting those extra seats. According to the opinion poll, the party is saturated at near maximum potential in its strongholds like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh. And it is largely absent from some large states like West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. So, Modi and his election team need to focus on improving the partyâ€™s position in four crucial states: Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka. The CNN-IBN poll shows a split verdict in Rajasthan if elections were held today. The BJP needs to do better than 10-14 Lok Sabha seats in the desert state â€“ it needs to push its tally towards 20. The fraction-ridden state unit needs to be convinced that the former Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje is their only credible face in the state. In Maharashtra, the Congress-NCP alliance is holding its seat tally from last time because of the split in the saffron alliance. Modi needs to bring Raj Thackeray and Uddhav Thackeray into a United Front in the western state if the Congress-NCP alliance has to be defeated. In Uttar Pradesh, the poll shows the party doing very well, with an expected tall of 29-33 seats. The BJP needs to capture the momentum and rise to at least 40. In Karnataka, the only southern state in which BJP has a presence, it is suffering because of the corrupt and incompetent government it ran until earlier this year and because of BS Yedyurappaâ€™s split from the party. By getting Yedyurappa back, the BJP could stem some losses and pick up an extra few seats. The BJP needs all of this to work in its favour to increase its tally to the 1998 and 1999 levels (180 plus seats), the only two occasions on which it formed a government at the Centre. On the other side of the spectrum, Congress need not despair at the numbers. After all, the Congress formed UPA 1 in 2004 when it had won just 145 seats in the Lok Sabha elections. That isnâ€™t much more than the 131â€“139 that is forecast in the opinion poll. It is always easier for Congress to pick up allies than it is for the BJP. For one, many of the strong regional parties are offshoots of the Congress and share much of its DNA. Mamata Banerjeeâ€™s TMC and Jagan Reddyâ€™s YSR Congress fall into that category. Second, Congress can always raise the bogey of keeping the allegedly â€˜communalâ€™ Modi and the BJP out of power and rally the support of parties that are usually not inclined towards it. The Left Front, which propped UPA 1 up is a good example of this. So is the Samajwadi Party which has kept the oxygen flowing to a beleaguered UPA 2. The Congress must hope that its populist measures â€“ like the Food Security Bill and Direct Benefits Transfer â€“ will help mop up some votes in the next nine months. That could help raise its tally to around the 150 mark from where the party will be in a position to bid for power. More cynically, the party will also bank on a consolidation of the minority vote in its favour in battleground states like Uttar Pradesh once Narendra Modi is declared the Prime Ministerial candidate by the BJP. Also, the party will hope that the economy turns the corner by next year, in which case some of the middle class anger in urban areas may abate. The probability of this happening though is low. Of course, there is always the possibility that both Congress and BJP may end up doing worse than even the CNN-IBN poll suggests. In that scenario, the kingmakers will be readying for coronation. Donâ€™t rule out Jayalalithaa, Nitish Kumar and Naveen Patnaik from a short at the top job in 2014. In the end, the outcome of the election will be determined by that significant fraction of voters that have still not made up their minds. They are waiting to be convinced. The next general election is up for grabs. Let the campaign begin. http://www.firstpost.com/politics/e...e-but-cong-others-in-the-race-too-989429.html ***************************** I saw and heard the TimesNow C voter poll. Both are divergent. Now, what do you feel?