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The 2019 Election Game Has Begun

This is the season for opinion polls.TV anchors throwing a volley of numbers at dazed viewers. Most 2019 election forecasts are broadly pointing in the same direction with six major trends.

First Parliament seems the most likely verdict. Second, the BJP is unlikely to come anywhere close to repeating its remarkable 282 seat majority of 2014 but is still India’s party number one by some distance.

Third, Congress has gained some traction in the last year but which is like the Australian batsmen in the recent Test series, still struggling to cross the century mark.

Fourth, the BJP and the Congress between them are hovering around the 300-seat mark, leaving a large space open for the non-Congress, non-BJP parties to play a crucial role in post-poll combinations.

Fifth, Narendra Modi is still clearly neta number one, although the gap between him and Rahul Gandhi has reduced.

Sixth, the 2019 election may be fought across 543 seats, but it is the 80 seats of Uttar Pradesh (UP) that hold the key to unlocking the door to power in Delhi. This is because UP is the only state where the BJP appears set to lose big time.An average of around 40-50 seats, according to polls. The newly formed Samajwadi Party (SP)-Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) alliance will be the big gainer. In effect, while the chemistry may still be with Modi as the most popular leader in the country, in the UP context, the sheer arithmetic of a wide alliance makes it a mountain to climb for the BJP.