With prime minister Narendra Modi having scripted a slice of history by becoming the first leader since Indira Gandhi to win two successive majority government elections, it maybe time for him to once again send out a few ‘thank you’ cards to those who have contributed to his remarkable political victory.

Confined to AC studios for months, tv anchors are let loose into the field at election time. Parachuted into hotspots in different parts of the country, we suddenly are expected to not just report but predict election outcomes. So, which way is the 'Hawa' (wind) blowing I am repeatedly asked. Now, there are two kinds of political 'hawa': one, where a wave builds up inexorably in favour of one party, the other is described more mysteriously as an 'under-current' where a silent voter is supposedly slowly but surely drawn to one side or the other.

Politics allows for no illness or any sign of physical vulnerability, especially at election time. This might explain why the notoriously camera shy Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik had to telecast a video of him working out in the gym, if only to allay persistent rumours of his failing health. Patnaik, one of the country's longest serving chief ministers and arguably the most enigmatic, has spent the last few months criss-crossing the length and breadth of his state in the oppressive heat of an Odisha summer.

A cheery optimism is a politician’s constant companion. Which is why as survey after survey shows the Narendra Modi-led NDA poised to return to power, opposition politicians have been reminding one and all of what happened in 2004 when all poll predictions went horribly wrong and the Congress-led UPA bested the Vajpayee government. Is ‘Modi Shining’ 2019 going to be a sequel to the ‘India Shining’ of 2004, an illusory bubble that is about to burst, is the big question? My answer: yes and no.

In the age of 24 x 7 news, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the master of political theatre, his every move designed to maximize eyeballs. Which is why a simple tweet from him on Wednesday morning that he was to address the nation across media platforms at noon was enough to set news channels into a frenzy. Since it was an announcement to be made in the backdrop of a Cabinet Committee on Security meeting and within weeks of the Balakote air strikes, the general impression was that it must relate to Pakistan.

The battle has well and truly begun, the election commission has sounded the bugle for elections 2019. Elections are both a marathon cum steeplechase with many crazy jumps and hurdles along the way so making predictions at the start of the arduous race is hazardous. And yet, let me place 10 reasons why I believe Narendra Modi is the clear front runner as of now.

As the temperatures sharply dip in the national capital, the political heat is rising. The BJP’s defeat in three Hindi heartland states means that we enter a big general election year with a marked shift in momentum. A galvanized opposition, restive allies and murmurs of dissent within, suddenly the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duopoly no longer seems quite so impregnable.

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In 2004, a few weeks before the general elections and a day after the Lucknow stampede in which 21 poor women were killed while collecting free saris, then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee admitted to me in an interview that the tragedy had dented the ‘India Shining’ image being aggressively promoted by his government. “There are areas of darkness, no doubt about it, and we should be worried,” he said with a contemplative air typical of the man. It was almost as if amidst the euphoria of a near-certain re-election, the politician in the hotseat sensed his own limitations.

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