Thursday, November 20, 2014

Legendary Brands of Indian Market

Whenever I compare products today with products 10 years back or 30 years back, I always wonder how much things have changed. From customers' needs to perception, from products dimensions to functions, from companies' attitude to altitude, everything is different. But there are products and brands which had actually changed the market scenario in India. These legends have succeeded against all odds and continued their dominance over a lifetime.

Let us have a look at few of them:

In 1983, when Maruti introduced its first car Maruti 800, nobody would have thought that this brand will become a legend in India. But slowly customers moved towards it because they felt its products were easy to drive, easy to maintain, light on pocket and moreover a different style which many can afford. This brand is ruling the Indian automobile sector and all customer surveys for a whopping 25 years. Maruti has found the pulse of Indian customers and seems like they have a knack of creating legendary products. Now after Maruti 800, Swift and Wagon R have already become iconic brands and creating history again and again.

Amul is one brand which actually ended era of the milkman. The white revolution (or some call it operation flood) which started in 1973 has today reached each and every corner of India. Amul today has over one million, over 10000 distributors and over 7200 excusive Parlours. The success of Amul brand can be easily dedicated to Late Mr. Verghese Kurian who mobilized thousands of small dairy farmers and created this legend called Amul for life.

Parle G:
From over 70 years, Parle-G is the largest selling biscuit brand in India and from last 40 years largest selling biscuit brand worldwide. For some it is a little treat and for some it is a one time meal. Many flavours, many variants of other biscuits had come and gone but this brand has never moved an inch from its leadership position. According to me this is one legendary product which had played and will play one of the longest innings in Indian market.

Launched in 1937, Coalgate revolutionized dental care in India. Those days people used to clean their teeth with neem or babool twig but Colgate changed it all. For over 70 years this Colgate dental cream ruled Indian dental care space and in recent past only it has started facing some heat from the likes of Close-up, Pepsodent, Dabur and Oral-B. But all said and done, this product has been immortalized in Indian history as one of the biggest successes of all times.

State Bank of India can be easily termed as bank for the common man. Roots of this banking giant can be traced back to 1806 when it started its journey as Bank of Calcutta. From then in 1921 it turned into Imperial Bank of India and in 1955 it became today's State Bank of India. With over USD 400 billion assets, deposits of over USD 300 billion and over 20000 branches, this banking legend is going to stay on top for long. Even though 25 years back it was first choice of every Indian and in recent decade new entrants like ICICI, HDFC have taken a big share of urban customers, SBI is still first choice of every common man.

Many companies have come and gone but Bata has remained undisputed king of organized Indian footwear industry from last 70 years. With currently sales of over 50 million pairs of footwear per year in India, Bata has reached where nobody can even think of reaching at present. In fact, rubber slippers launched by Bata under the name 'Hawai' is so famous that every rubber slipper is now called as hawai chappal in India. After seeing history of Bata you can say that in products, 'legends are not born they are created'.

Launched in 1950, Prestige changed the way food was cooked. Its famous tagline for Prestige pressure cooker, "Jo biwi se kare pyaar, vo prestige se kaise kare inkaar", is a household slogan in itself. In last 64 years, this brand has reached to such a height that now on an average every 7 seconds a prestige product is sold in India. This feet can be achieved only by a legendary brand and it seems this is one product which is set to play not out innings at leadership position.

If you want to buy a watch of Indian Brand, I am sure Titan will be the first to consider. With over 60% Indians opting for this brand and a market leadership spanning nearly 20 years, this legendary brand is here to stay for long. Started in 1984, when HMT and Allwyn were at their peak, slowly and steadily this brand kept on winning consumers hearts and today it sells over 15 million watches every year.

The blue bottle of Parachute has become a brand of trust in hair oil segment. When it was launched in 1987, market was dominated by unbranded hair oils but Parachute changed the tide. Today over 18 million households use Parachute and it enjoys over 50% market share in branded hair oil category. This is one brand which has withstood competition from various products and brands but never moved from its leadership position till date.

Thums Up:
Whenever you want to quench your thirst with a Cola, 40% of Indians opt for Thums Up. Launched in 1977 by Parle, it became part of Coca-Cola in 1993. Though Coca-Cola wanted to phase it out but this legendary product was so strong that they had to think otherwise. In last 40 years this product has seen many ups and downs, fierce competition from likes of Pepsi and Coke but remained on top due to strong fan following. Like its logo, my vote goes for it as legend in aerated drinks segment.

Vaseline in my mind will always remain synonym to petroleum jelly. I still remember from my early childhood days when it used to come in tin box. For over 130 years, this legend has ruled the skin care segment and keeping in mind the customer needs, kept on launching new products at regular intervals. Now I see so many products under Vaseline brand that original petroleum jelly seems lost but no other product can take its place as legend for sure.

'Bas 2 Minute' noodles is favourite among kids today and slogan for instant noodles in India. Introduced in 1982, this brand has its share of tough competition, ups and downs in its history. Today it enjoys 60% market share in instant noodles category with a big range of products. Even though my favourite will always be Top Ramen Curry Noodles, brand Maggi will remain a legend in Indian market since it was the first to challenge local snacks like samosas, pakoras etc successfully.

Zandu Balm:
For new generation, this may be a surprise inclusion but this iconic product is market leader in pain relief segment for over 100 years now. Zandu Balm has become synonymous to all balms and in India it is a part of over 50 million households. It may be feeling heat from new products like Volini or Moov or to some extent Tiger Balm, but this legendary product still has more leadership years left in it.

Dabur Chyawanprash:
Again this may be a surprise inclusion but this product is market leader in its segment from last 70 years. Nowadays people may rely more on health drinks for vigor and vitality but chyawanprash is known to be best natural ayurvedic resource for youthfulness. In our childhood I still remember everybody in most of the families taking Dabur Chyawanprash daily and this habit has not changed for many families till date.

There are many more legendary brands in Indian market but I guess space will be always less to mention them all. Indian market is filled with legends, stories of triumph where tides have been turned but it is some who had created history and that is what my heart whispers to me...........

Monday, November 10, 2014


Indians seems to be on an e-commerce spree now-a-days. With revenues of e-commerce companies swelling like our pot bellies, I always wonder what will happen when this euphoria is over and sensibility will start settling in. Right now mudslinging is happening in the top rung and down the line new start-ups are fighting in that mud for survival. Every other new venture is in e-commerce and now from onions to diamonds everything is available at just click of a button. Will this golden era keep on going for ever or will this threaten to disrupt the equilibrium of the society in near future, this is a debateable question which I don't want to put forth as of now but one thing is sure that consolidation will happen soon enough in this segment. 

Let us see according to me where top contenders stand in this race as of now:

Flipkart: The Prime Mover
Flipkart is the first company which can be truly credited with e-commerce revolution in India thanks to its founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal. With revenues touching almost US$ 5 billion, it is far ahead of other players as of now. Excellent customer interface, huge product portfolio across categories and exclusive deals such as Xiomi products are some of its major advantages. There may be some hiccups recently such as 'Billion Dollar Day', which earned huge revenue but huge criticism as well; you cannot count Bansals out of the race anytime sooner. Profitability may not be a concern at present but it will be sooner or later in future so they should keep a check on the same. Takeover of will also help them in securing a large pie of fashion space which can prove to be a very big advantage in future. I guess if they can keep on maintaining creative deals and innovative services in the loop, they can remain prime mover of Indian e-commerce industry for long.

Amazon: The Challenger
Amazon is a known name in e-commerce jungle worldwide and with extra deep pockets plus army of technical and creative minds at helm; it can be true challenger for numero uno position. With already revenues topping US$ 1 billion within a year, you can expect some solid ground work from them and then serious ground breaking in near future. Since they have everything to gain and nothing to lose, Flipkart will have tough time to save its territory and its customers from this e-commerce giant. Strategically, with sites such as in their kitty, you can expect some heavy fine tuning by Amazon in terms of deals and offers. Nevertheless they are also facing same constraints as our prime mover and it will be great to see who finds the key to everlasting success among them.

Snapdeal: The Innovator
I had always liked their philosophy of doing business and Snapdeal can be credited with start of innovative deals in e-commerce segment in India. Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal started on the right track but could not overtake Flipkart since stiff challenge was at their doorstep sooner than expected. But now Snapdeal has also thrown its hat into the ring and seems to be fully prepared to take the blows as well as inflict damage to the competition. However, customer interface and product range across portfolios need to be improvised in order to stake claim for the numero uno position.

Indiatimes Shopping, Homeshop18 and Ebay: The Invisibles
Roots of both Indiatimes Shopping and Ebay in India can be found even prior to Flipkart and Snapdeal. Started as market places for online selling, these sites had great potential but I guess lacked the hunger to conquer. They have every asset at their disposal to make it big in Indian market space but god only knows when they will start firing on all cylinders. Homeshop18 even have their own 24 hours channel to promote products but they still have to find the right combination of television and internet selling to make it to the top.

Quikr and Olx: The Resellers
So customer base is large, following is large, product range is infinite (since mostly people sell their all sorts of old used items) which means the scope for them is also quite promising. You can also see few people selling brand new items on these sites as well but mostly individuals and not organised retailers. However, any of them can be a big player in e-commerce space if they choose to enter the big arena of branded new items through retailers as scalability will not be a big issue with them.

Others: The Niche Segmenters,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and so on, the list is never ending. Everybody has got the funding, everybody has got the advertisements and everybody has got a niche segment or may be niche customer base. However, most of these players will look for consolidation with big players at some point like what Myntra did with Flipkart until and unless they are happy with their limited reach or they have guts and resources to fight the big guns.

Whatever is going to happen in future that does not matter since as of now the customer is the king and we can reap as much benefit as possible till funding is coming to these companies. But let us beware that this will happen only till a certain point where equilibrium or ecosystem of business is not in danger so enjoy till then and that is what my heart whispers to me...........

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Giants of Indian Car Industry - Battle for Supremacy or Survival

Prior to the year 2000, Indian car market used to be a sellers' market and was majorly dominated by few players such as Maruti Suzuki but since then things have been continuously hotting up in this auto segment. As on date, customer is the king with plenty of various options in each category and a battle of supremacy or survival is being fought at the centre stage. Let us look at few of the giants who had played a major role in the past and every one of those who are bound to be a key player in the future.

Maruti Suzuki: The Numero Uno
With almost over 45% market share, Maruti is the undisputed NumeroUno of Indian car industry and there is nobody in sight who can challenge its might in near future. Maruti can boast of the best after sales service and one of the most economic vehicle line-up in their armory. With blockbuster products such as 'Swift', 'Dzire', 'Alto' and 'WagonR', Maruti not only rules the entry level car segment but hatchbacks and entry level sedans as well where currently most of the big numbers are. But luxury sedan and SUV are the two segments where Maruti has faced not only stiff competition but they have failed to even register their presence significantly with all the models from 'Baleno' to 'SX4' and 'Grand Vitara' to 'Kizashi' proving to be duds. With models such as 'Ciaz' and 'XA Alpha' in pipeline, I hope that auto major will be able to stir upper segments as well but as of now it seems customers relate the brand with more of economy type of vehicles rather than the luxury type of vehicles and changing this perception will be a major task for our NumeroUno. Still the way market is changing with every new launch, Maruti needs to be on their toes in order to safeguard its position and further cement it in the market.

Hyundai: The Successor
When Hyundai launched 'Santro' in September 1998, nobody thought this company will be a major force in India but since then this Korean major has never looked back. Hyundai has always been holding its number two position and with stylish products as well as excellent service network, they have maintained this position in Indian market for long. With product range such as 'i10 and i20 Family' as well as recently launched 'Xcent' and stylish 'Verna', there is less doubt that they will have any threat to their number two position but with Honda hot on their heels who knows they may be in for a surprise in future. I feel Hyundai needs to address the growing demand in entry level SUV and MPV segment soon or their number two position can be in jeopardy in future since I can see that their fan following is not as loyal as people may think. But all said and done, as of now they are true successor to Maruti Suzuki and currently sitting pretty firmly on their runner-up position.

Honda Cars: The True Challenger
From starting itself Honda has been a very strong brand in Indian market and has been considered synonym to superior quality. It had legendary products such as 'Accord' and 'Civic' as well as all time heart throb 'City' in its stable but till last year with all petrol line-up they were never able to churn the required sales volumes. But with launch of models such as 'Amaze', 'Mobilio' and 'City' diesel, it seems their worry days are over. They have now almost perfect vehicle line-up (entry level SUV is still missing though), superb brand value and excellent after sales service to back their grand Indian dream. Honda is the one I believe every other manufacturer is currently worried about. It has already surpassed likes of Mahindra, TATA Motors and Toyota in less than one year and must be eyeing number two position in near future but I am sure the competition will not be sitting idle and Honda's journey to stardom will definitely be no cake walk. Another challenge which I believe with Honda is that their products are not only competing with other manufacturers' products but somehow they compete with their own products as well. Like for example one reason for sales volume of 'Amaze' going down is that of increasing sales volume of 'City' and I am sure 'Mobilio' will somewhere dent their numbers as well. When a customer goes to their showroom they go to purchase a Honda car and with easy financing available they tend to opt for a vehicle they like most even if that means stretching the budget a bit. So it clearly means that they still have to create a market pool of individual models like Maruti or Hyundai has and this may prove to be the winning stroke for them in the longer run.

Mahindra: The Niche Leader
Mahindra has always been known for their SUVs and Utility vehicles and is undisputed leader of this segment from quite long. Whether it is iconic 'Scorpio' (which definitely marked a new era for the company) or it is ultra-reliable 'Bolero' or uber cool 'XUV500' they had mastered the art of SUVs. Here by art of SUVs I not only mean making but selling as well but as you can see I also used 'had'. There are few reasons for my scepticism and primary reason being not a great response to 'Xylo' family vehicles whereas it should have been another success story for the home grown major. Secondly, with introduction of many new models in SUV segment and some like 'Duster' and 'Ecosport' which are still going strong, somehow Mahindra had left enough space in the segment for them to flourish. I believe they have yet to master the mind of urban clientele where expectations are high and lot of other factors such as excellent customer service do matter. I feel it is time for another revolution and lot of introspection like they did during introduction of 'Scorpio'. Another pain point for Mahindra has been entry to lower segments such as sedans. Whether it is 'Logan' or rechristened 'Verito', sales registers are not ringing and this is another proof that they are not urban customer ready yet. All said and done I do not see the niche leader as sleeping giant and with slew of upcoming launches and few strategic changes, leadership dream can be round the corner for our home grown SUV leader.

Toyota: The Consistent Performer
When you talk about Toyota in India, one can easily see consistency in performance. In terms of sales volumes, Toyota is neither in the top rung nor in the bottom and has consistently maintained its 4th or 5th position. Toyota products are always termed as reliable no-nonsense machines and customer service is nothing less than excellent. I am somehow always surprised why this global leader never seemed to be aiming for leadership in India. As per them, whether they are not able to find right fit mass products for Indian market or it has something to do with deep rooted appeal and approach of Maruti and Hyundai, with full packed armoury at Toyota's disposal I strongly believe Toyota has not reached where it should have been. Somehow it seems focus is always on MPV segment and no doubt 'Innova' is still the market leader in its class but with so many new models in the pond this strategy seems risky in the longer run. Anyways Toyota is always known for that as they had taken everybody with surprise in the past when they suddenly stopped selling their best model 'Qualis' in 2005. I still believe they shouldn't have stopped 'Qualis' as till date Toyota has not been able to launch anything in SUV segment and this segment is definitely churning good numbers in India at present. Nevertheless everything happens for a good reason and I feel Toyota is happy with the current going. Since both 'Fortuner', 'Innova' are front-runners in their segments and 'Etios' family, 'Altis' are not doing bad either, Toyota has plenty to gain and nothing to lose. With right strategy and approach, this global leader can be a serious threat to the current leaders as I feel its path is clear cut and well defined provided Toyota realises this itself.

TATA Motors: The Defender
With almost a drop of 40% in domestic sales volumes within last two years, this home grown major is somehow defending its turf mainly because of its saviour JLR (Jaguar Land Rover). Even with plenty of weapons in its armoury, everything either fails to fire at the right time or misfires altogether. I contribute this mainly to some wrong decisions as well as lack of creative approach and strategy. 'Nano' was positioned so badly in its initial phase that what could have been People's car today is now reduced to Poor Man's car. I am sure that the current sales volume of 'Nano' would not be more than 10% of what TATA would have anticipated when this dream car idea was formulated (I had predicted this in my earlier blog "TATA Nano: Has the dream gone wrong?" written on 10th July 2009 just after two months of its launch). I still hope that TATA Motors will find a way to get this dream car back on track soon and will not let it go down in history as a failure. Another model which could have done better was 'Aria' but the decision of launching it in 4x4 variant only and that is with highest price tag in its category was a very long shot and definitely it has missed its mark. Moreover, even though 'Indica' and 'Indigo' are good vehicles they failed to generate and garner consistent good response from the customers and mostly after sales service needs to be blamed for that. Now comes curious case of 'Safari', it is one very good vehicle with excellent reviews but unfortunately sales numbers are not so promising. This model was always overshadowed by models like 'Scorpio' and TATA never did anything out of the way to come out of it. This is probably true in case of all their models as one fails to see any innovative or creative branding and marketing campaigns. But you cannot count them out yet as with new models such as 'Zest' and 'Bolt' in launch phase as well as many others in pipeline, revival may be round the corner for our this home grown major and I firmly believe that this is one company which always had and will always have the best shot for the leadership position in Indian market provided they play their cards perfectly.

Chevrolet: The Bystander
Chevrolet is another manufacturer which has all the fire power in its arsenal but they refuse to use it. Sales volumes are dropping consistently but they seem to be acting just like bystanders and doing nothing about it. All the models 'Spark', 'Beat', 'Sail', 'Cruze', 'Enjoy', 'Captiva' and 'Tavera' have good reviews but somehow there is no push from the company to revive the sales or even network for that matter. This is one more company which I believe can do much better than what they are doing currently. There are certainly few gaps in the offering such as entry level SUV and entry level luxury sedan (space created because of discontinuation of 'Optra' model) but I guess that they will be taking care of it soon with models like 'Trax' and 'Trailblazer'. According to me this will not be sufficient if Chevrolet really want to be in the top rung and they need to focus more on 'Tavera', 'Enjoy', 'Sail' and 'Beat' where currently sales volume are in the market.

Ford: The Veteran
Ford is no new to Indian market and its roots can be traced back to as long as 1907 which makes it literally the first auto player in India but that innings lasted only till 1954 and Ford re-entered Indian market in 1995. Since then it's a satisfactory journey for them but it cannot be termed as outstanding since even with calibre Ford was never able to break into top three rankings. After a long time Ford launched 'Ecosport' which has proved to be its most successful launch till date but with so many players eyeing this segment journey can be tough in future. Apart from this we had already seen three avatars of 'Fiesta' and barring the first one sales volumes have been sluggish since then. Again 'Figo' was a success in initial phase but it is now content with sales of around 3000 nos per month but I feel it has the potential to do lot more. 'Endeavour' is a good vehicle but sadly there are hardly any numbers worth mentioning. 'Classic' again is slow in terms of sales but it has survived rough weather and will continue to do the same until there is a drastic strategy change from Ford. I have observed that customers perceive Ford as a costly maintenance vehicle which may not be true and company needs to change this belief as soon as possible. With 'Ka' and 'Figo Sedan' in pipeline, Ford still have some aces up its sleeve but these models will succeed only if ground work is done perfectly.

Renault / Nissan / Datsun: The Musketeers
Whenever I think about them I can only recall siblings, 'Duster' and 'Terrano', 'Micra' and 'Pulse', 'Sunny' and 'Scala'. One may always feel that what is the point of same models with cosmetic changes fighting with each other in the same space but it depends on the strategy of the companies and I feel reason behind it is to increase shelf life of a particular product. Among all the products launched, 'Duster' was the only noticeable success whereas most of the others have fizzled out after initial phases. Though products are good somehow they do not linger for long in customers' mind. Even 'Datsun Go', 'Evalia' and 'Fluence' have failed to garner sufficient numbers and hence probably it is time for company to think of some new strategies or major shift is required in the approach. All said and done, one thing is very clear that this trio is not here to go out meekly and bounce back may be on the cards anytime soon but something needs to be done or losses will keep on mounting at dealers' end.

Volkswagen / Skoda: The Global Giant
This global leader would be thinking that how come best products always fail to sell in India but that is the peculiarity which makes Indian market stand apart. From the beginning itself Volkswagen always tried to do something different, whether it is innovative marketing or creative approach they did all. I still remember opening newspaper on one fine morning and music coming out of it from Volkswagen creative ad. It is not that they have not tasted success in India but they were not able to keep the momentum going. I strongly believe that there were some basics which went wrong during the journey and company is trying its best to reverse its effect but the major point here is whether their understanding of Indian market is still right or not. Japanese and Korean companies have found that pulse as of now but as we know life changes every moment provided you have it in you to change it. Technically speaking all the products from their stable, 'Polo', 'Vento', 'Jetta', 'Passat' are superb except for few nook and corners or dwindling sales numbers. Even Skoda have fantastic products in terms of 'Rapid', 'Octavia' and 'Superb' though not much focus has been given to 'Fabia' and 'Yeti' but sales numbers are not as it used to be. So probably it is time for a rethink over strategy and a change in approach so that they can challenge the current market leaders and if Volkswagen fails to do so then I will be highly disappointed. With models like 'Up' and 'Taigun' in the pipeline, I hope things will change for this global leader.

Fiat: The Supplier
Fiat vehicles are always synonym to reliability but only with 'Punto' and 'Linea' in offering it has been a tough ride for the auto major. I am always surprised that a company which supplies diesel engines to many of its Indian counterparts is till now happy and content with its market position as vehicle OEM. I believe Fiat is maintaining its slow and steady approach and with introduction of its urban SUV 'Avventura', things will start rolling in its favour but it will be some time before Fiat will taste some major success in Indian market. One observation though that 'Avventura' as I can see is in its sporty edition and there should be an executive edition of the same as well or Fiat will be restricting its pond size to some extent.

Audi  / BMW / Mercedes: The Big Guns
These three players had launched more models / upgraded versions of their vehicles than even some of the full range players in Indian market which clearly demonstrate the upswing in ultra-luxury car segment. With 30000 odd vehicle sales among them, this segment is expected to grow in healthy double digits and these three may be able to literally affect course of Indian Automobile industry few years down the line. Moreover they are themselves launching vehicles in lower price range so that they can cater to bigger clientele and share a bigger pie. I am keeping a tab on them and waiting for the right time to bring their battle royale on paper.

In the end I can only see that none of the above players are at any disadvantage and only few have edge over others, so Indian auto sector is bound to have lot of action in near future. Players will move up and down, loyalties will change, models will come and go and a simple Indian family will be spoilt for choices. So it will be very interesting to see how these auto giants react to situations and what cards they play and at what time and how. This is going to be hell of a roller coaster ride of supremacy and survival so fasten your seat belt to enjoy and that is what my heart whispers to me.....

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Battle for the Power - Elections 2014

Battle for the power at centre is heating up and most of the political parties are in full throttle to reach the magic number. Coalitions, accusations, denials are in full form and statements have already crossed from limits of political arena to personal arena. Who is going to win that only time will tell but let us have a look what went wrong or what went right for the major parties in this epic battle and predict where they are most likely to finish this epic battle.

Congress led UPA: Race to Survive
From the start a strong anti-incumbency wave is clear against the current ruling Congress led UPA government and people are raising doubts about their performance in last 10 years. Rising prices, corruption, lack of basic amenities and employment opportunities are weighing heavily over there performance. The effect is such that they even failed to announce any likely PM candidate and only projected Mr. Rahul Gandhi as flag bearer of the UPA. Yes I agree that they could have done much better while in Power but it seems like Mr. Rahul Gandhi is not getting support from all quarters in the Congress party itself specially the senior leaders. Nevertheless we should not forget that during UPA tenure the country has survived two waves of recession and global economic slowdown without drowning or hitting the bottom. But yes at the same time they failed to check corruption and rising prices which may result in their worst performance ever in 2014 Lok Sabha elections. According to me Congress led UPA shall win anywhere between 125 to 140 seats.

BJP led NDA: The Front Runner
People may deny it but yes there is Modi wave in many large pockets of the country as many people are heard saying that they had voted for Modi as PM. Coupled with anti-incumbency wave against UPA government BJP led NDA may be able to put forth its best tally ever but I doubt that they will be able to reach the magic number of 272 without any external support. BJP led NDA is expected to do well in UP, Bihar, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan whereas South, East and small states like Punjab, Haryana, Chattisgarh, Goa, Himachal, Uttarakhand, Seemandhra may easily push their tally way beyond 200. With change of guard, people are hoping for reforms, business friendly atmosphere and stable economic conditions (more like Gujarat model) and this can be a deciding factor for NDA tally. According to me BJP led NDA shall win anywhere between 240 to 260 seats.

Third Front and Others: The Dreamers and The Opportunists
As such there is no official formation of The Third Front this time but there are strong signals that this may come to fore if regional parties are able to do well in the elections. Why there is no Third Front this time, reason is simple, unlike UPA where nobody wants to be the PM, here everybody wants to be the PM. From Mulayam Singh Yadav to Mayawati, Mamata Banarjee to Jayalalitha, Deve Gowda to Nitish Kumar, so many names have been cropped up for the PM post that they themselves are confused on how to form an official front with consensus. However they may together win anywhere between 120 to 130 seats and some of them may be able to bargain for good portfolios post elections by supporting the formation of the government at the centre.

AAP: The Lost Cause
What started as a good cause is now suddenly turning into a lost cause with each passing day for Aam Aadmi Party. Their claim of winning over 100 seats seems to be quite far-fetched and their chances are thinning ever since they had thrown away their government in Delhi. People are not very impressed with their way of functioning and now there are questions being raised about their integrity as well. Decision of fighting over 500 seats for a new party itself was way beyond their reach and they had already stretched themselves too much which may further harm their prospects and may bring more pain than the glory. According to me they should have contested only on 70 to 80 high profile seats with a healthy winning percentage and next election could have been totally different for them. Still it cannot be ruled out that they may play major spoilers in many key constituencies and will surely give sleepless nights to both UPA and NDA. Two months back I would have predicted 50 seats for AAP but by going with the current trend they may end up with anywhere between 10 to 20 seats only.

What will happen exactly and which way voters will swing their ballot, that only 16th May will tell but Elections 2014 will surely be one of the most keenly contested battles for power which may see many big names biting dust and many newcomers taking the centre stage. Whoever comes to power I feel it should be mandate to only one party as then only they will be truly able to work for the progress of the country and that is what my heart whispers to me...........