NEW DELHI, July 8 (Xinhua) -- As per schedule the next general elections in India are due in early next year, but speculations are rife in political circles that the polls might be preponed to this year-end.
The speculations gained momentum with the president of the main ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Amit Shah telling his party's spokespersons and social media managers recently to be prepared as the party would be in poll mode after Aug. 15, India's Independence Day.
Expectations that the general elections would be preponed stem from the fact that the BJP has been losing its popularity with each passing day, after suffering repeated defeats in recent by-polls (in parliamentary constituencies) in politically big states like Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Bihar.
A recent poll done by Lokniti-CSDS (Centre for the Study of Developing Societies) found that the drop in Modi's popularity has been quite sharp.
Quoting the poll findings, a leading columnist Tavleen Singh recently wrote in one of her blogs, "Today close to half the Hindu voters polled across India admit that they are unlikely to vote for Modi next time. Muslims, Sikhs and Christians were unanimous in their desire not to."
The party lost two crucial by-polls in Uttar Pradesh's Gorakhpur and Phulpur parliamentary constituencies and Araria parliamentary constituency in Bihar in March, followed by a crushing defeat in Kairana parliamentary constituency, also in Uttar Pradesh which is politically the biggest state India.
Earlier in February, it had lost in Alwar and Ajmer parliamentary constituencies in western state of Rajasthan, ruled by the BJP, and in Uluberia parliamentary constituency in eastern state of West Bengal ruled by BJP's adversary Mamata Banerjee.
In June this year, the BJP also lost one parliamentary by-poll in Maharashtra's Bhandara-Gondia constituency, though it had a face-saver win in Palghar parliamentary constituency.
The repeated defeats of the BJP candidates in the parliamentary by-elections have given enough indications that the main ruling party is facing a tough incumbency factor among the country's voters.
The key reasons cited for BJP's poor performance in recently held by-polls could be summarized as increasing incidents of lynching on dalits (lowest caste people in Indian community) and the minority communities, particularly the Muslims over beef controversies, and the "not-so-successful" economic policies of Demonetization and GST (goods and services tax).
In January, violent clashes had erupted at Bhima-Koregaon, a tiny village in Maharashtra state during a commemorative event organized by a Dalit organization. Incidents of lynching of people belonging to dalit and Muslim communities have been recurring. The latest being from Dhule in Maharashtra where five persons belonging to a nomadic community were lynched on suspicion of being child-lifters.
A leading English magazine, "India Today", carried its lead story in the latest edition titled "The New Gameplan" saying that the BJP was concerned at losing popularity among the Dalits and lower caste people.
Those against the two big economic reforms of Demonetization and GST introduced by the present government said that they failed to yield the desired results. Criticizing the GST implementation on its first anniversary on July 1, Indian National Congress (INC) leader and country's former finance minister P. Chidambaram described it as a "Grossly Scary Tax."
"Multiple returns, multiple rules and tax slabs have made the life of an ordinary trader nightmarish. GST was thrust upon an unprepared nation. GST has become a word that traders fear. It is an undeniable fact that GST has not had a positive impact on the Indian economy," added Chidambaram.
The BJP's poor electoral performance in recent months in the states like Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan should be a cause of worry for those at the helm of party's affairs. Put together these big states share over 260 parliamentary constituencies among themselves, out of the total 543 constituencies across the nation which go to polls every five years. The BJP had won 170 parliamentary constituencies in these states in the 2014 general elections but things does not easy for the main ruling party this time.
In the next general elections, the BJP is expected to face a formidable combination of two strong caste-based state-level parties the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Uttar Pradesh; and its alliance with old-time political ally Shiv Sena appears tattered in Maharashtra, another politically big state with 48 parliamentary constituencies.
In West Bengal, it is destined to face a tough political battle against state-level ruling party, the Trinamool Congress, led by state chief minister Mamta Banerjee, while the rest two states Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan too have a wave of incumbency as both are ruled by the BJP.