When the BJP won 182 seats in 1998 and 1999, it captured 25.6 and 23.7 per cent of the national vote respectively. In 2009, it won a mere 18.8 per cent (and 116 seats). Though, under certain exceptional circumstances, one can show that a party can win 180 seats in India's Parliament with only 18-20 per cent of the national vote, a more reasonable assumption is that 24-25 per cent of the national vote will, in all probability, be required for 180-plus seats. In short, Modi needs to raise the BJP's vote by 5-6 percentage points.Varshney is sceptical about Modi being able to bring it off in 2014:
In 2014, the size of the electorate is expected to be a little over 800 million. Assuming a 60-62 per cent turnout, we will have roughly 500 million voters. A 5-6 per cent increase in the BJP's vote essentially means that Modi will have to deliver an additional 25-30 million votes .
Of the 500 million likely voters in 2014, only 150 million will be urban, and of these, only 90 million are in the west and north. The BJP has already won a lot of these votes in the previous elections. Can Modi really mobilise an additional 20-25 million votes from this northern and western pool, assuming he can get 5 million more elsewhere?
The order is monumentally tall. Advani may well have the last laugh next year unless a broad anti-Congress alliance can be constructed. With urban India rising, Modi's power to pull votes could be greater in the 2019 or 2024 elections, but might fall well short in 2014.