Sandeep Bamzai on the Modi wave It is uncanny how the rising tide is lifting all the boats. Either the whole wide world is reading the tea leaves wrong or media hype and hoopla is projecting Narendra Modi as the winner even before the contest. The Modi magnet itself should not be underestimated for it is attracting all sorts of political leaders. Modi himself is playing a very calculated strategic game. Realising that the BJP doesn't have a pan-India footprint, he is ready to accommodate all hues of winning candidates. The emphasis is on winnability as the BJP and Modi both understand that boond boond se sagar banta hai. To acquire a mass following and a larger presence in parliament, the BJP isn't averse to B S Yeddyuruppa or B S Sriramulu or N K Singh. Yeddy and Sriramulu are tainted while N K Singh was part of Nitish Kumar's brains trust. In fact, Singh is someone who was at the vanguard of the divorce with the same BJP. Safe refuge Every seat counts as the BJP and Modi enlarge their search for 180 plus. Even Raj Thackeray wants to throw his lot with Modi. All of this is giving credence to the reality that a Modi wave does exist on the ground. Politicians are smart, their sense of timing cannot be ignored or under estimated. This is visible in several of the desertions from the Congress - Jagdambika Pal and Purandeswari Devi - which fit the bill. Other drifters like Ram Kirpal Yadav from Lalu Prasad's RJD have quickly realised that Modi's Ark provides safe refuge. It is interesting that the magic number of 180 which the BJP looked to scale a couple of months ago has now been bumped up to 200. Emboldened by the new alliances and acceptability, the BJP and Modi have now rejigged their calculations. Political pundits had asked searching questions till a couple of months ago, their thinking predicated on simple maths. After all, a party with a limited presence across the land would find it difficult to cobble up the big numbers. The Modi 'leher,' I guess, swirled out of telly studios and wafted around over a larger swathe of the country. Its efficacy became known when people on the ground began to sense the change. What is remarkable is that the BJP is partly being subsumed by Modi's larger than life persona. Modi is now perceived to be the change agent who will provide deliverance to the hoi polloi. The weight of expectations will sink on the BJP and Modi only if they come to power. And as we have seen with Arvind Kejriwal and the AAP phenomenon, a section of the populace can be unforgiving. Gaining ground But so far Modi has handled the situation with aplomb and shown smart thinking with even the smallest of things. Look at the way he dispensed with Advani acolyte Harin Pathak in Ahmedabad East and instead gave a ticket to actor Paresh Rawal. The irony of symbolism is delicious - Rawal played the iconic Sardar Patel in the 1993 Ketan Mehta helmed film titled Sardar. The voter in India knows that his franchise is a deadly weapon of mass destruction when it works as part of a larger collective. He waits his turn patiently for five years and then unleashes the power vested in him. The voter is hungry, he is aspirational, he is ambitious, he wants a better life for himself and his immediate family. He reckons that development for India's one billion plus population will take the country to the next level of competence. He knows that if China can grow at breakneck speed, then so can India. Only, it requires direction and leadership. Maybe the idea of Modi stems from that same deficit and vacuum. Nature as it is said abhors a vacuum. The fact that the BJP is constricted because of its limited presence in north and central India is well established. But equally, this is the fulcrum of its attack stratagem - middle and north India - in the shape of Bihar, UP, Delhi, Himachal, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, MP, Chattisgarh will get the bulk of their seats. Karnataka was the lone bastion of the BJP in the South and it may well turn in a surprise once again for the simple reason that the Modi 'wave' may bring in a better harvest. This will have to be the bedrock of BJP's tally. With the goalposts having changed, as the BJP and Modi have galvanised the groundswell of popular support, the scenario on the ground has changed. Now the BJP is shooting for 200 seats on their own. This is an amazing feat for a party that was till recently dismissed as a 'pariah', with just the old and trusted allies like the Shiv Sena and the Akalis in Punjab for company. This 'untouchability' however has evaporated rapidly in the run up to the elections. The inflection point may well have been LJP's Ram Vilas Paswan who sensing political expediency in Bihar, has decided to ally with Modi. Let us understand that it was the same Paswan who had quit Atal Bihari Vajpayee's cabinet after the 2002 riots in Gujarat, shouting Dangai, Dangai (rioter). Following that the BJP has attracted a wide variety of rebel Congressmen and women, managed to structure a grand alliance in Tamil Nadu and in the process introduced a fear factor in the Congress. The momentum is clearly with the lotus party. Now whether all this translates into seats for Modi and the BJP is a matter of conjecture. What cannot be denied however is that Modi is no longer an 'untouchable'. Notwithstanding L K Advani and Jaswant Singh who would like people to believe otherwise, anecdotal evidence from around the country tells you that Modi and the BJP appear to be in pole position. This is despite the old adage that a "week is too long in politics." Sandeep Bamzai on the Modi wave : Sandeep Bamzai, News - India Today ************************************** All sorts will make the new BJP. Are they sacrificing themselves for ambitious drive to ensure victory? But then all parties tend to bring in all and sundry who are winning horses. Will the BJP be the political party with a difference any more?