Flag of Congress (on the left) and flags of BJP (on the right). (Source: BloombergQuint) 

Who Has An Edge In 2019 Elections? 

The world's largest democracy goes to polls in about 10 weeks with the Election Commission announcing the dates for the 2019 Lok Sabha election. But what factors will drive the narrative and help win votes?

After the Pulwama terror attack, the Bharatiya Janata Party has definitely seized the narrative, said senior journalist and political analyst Arati Jerath. Besides, the party also managed to derail the narrative that the opposition had built over the last couple of months—unemployment, rural distress, institutional crisis being some of them, she said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was widely criticised for demonetisation and alleged destruction of institutions. But he and his party has managed to bounce back by raking up national security and defence. At the same time, it has sealed deals with allies rather quickly, while the Congress hasn't been able to finalise tie-ups. The BJP seems to have an advantage with a clearer strategy than the opposition, and Modi magic is seen as a driving factor.

Jerath, however, said lack of leadership of an equivalent stature among the opposition may not be the deciding factor. Citing the 2004 election, Jerath said the BJP lost to the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance despite having a tall leader like Atal Bihari Vajpayee. “It’s the floating voter that really decides an election.”

The poll campaign has also triggered debate about the role of media in influencing the mind of voters. Journalist and author Rasheed Kidwai said the media perpetuates the existing perception. “It does influence voters but cannot alter the existing narrative.”

Watch the full debate here: