The new benchmark set by BJP is such that it has eliminated any need for Modi to bend backwards to appease allies, thus making him more stronger than ever before.
On May 23, 2019, the results of the general elections which were held in seven phases from 11th April 2019 to 19th May 2019, were declared to constitute the 17th Lok Sabha. It was not a surprise that NDA returned to power after completing a 5-year tenure, as already speculated by exit poll results. But, the common man’s love and affinity towards BJP and specifically Mr. Modi was visible in the numerical figure of 303 (BJP) & 353 (NDA) which were a new benchmark when compared to last elections, where the numbers were 282 (BJP) & 336 (NDA). For being the official opposition or the leader of opposition in the Parliament, a party needs to hold more than 10% of the total seats (i.e 55 seats). The Indian National Congress again missed to attain this title with just 52 seats in the Parliament and holding around 91 seats along with the allies (UPA).
The New Roadmap
We can see BJP amplifying and setting victories in those constituencies too, where it was on a weaker side previously. One such constituency is Amethi, the seat for INC and stronghold of Gandhi family for more than a decade, with Rahul Gandhi being the incumbent MP. A surprise to many, Mr. Gandhi was chucked out of power this time from his home constituency and the title was now given to Ms. Smriti Irani, with around 6.0% more votes than INC. Talking about the most populated state of the country, Uttar Pradesh saw political battle among 3 major parties INC, BJP and the grand alliance between BSP, SP, and Rashtriya Lok Dal. UP has a total of 80 constituencies and the turnout this time stood at 54.5 percent. BJP is sitting on 62 seats in U.P. with 2 seats in alliance with Apna Dal. Further, BSP and SP stand at 10 and 5 parliamentary constituencies which shows that the parties have taken a lesson from the defeat in 2014 general elections where BSP did not win any seat and SP won 5 seats. Congress continues to be the sick man in UP where the number decreased by 1 (2 seats in 2014 to 1 seat in 2019).
Historically, Uttar Pradesh has seen the political dominance of majorly 2 parties – Bahujan Samaj Party led by Ms. Mayawati and Samajwadi Party led by the father-son duo Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav. These parties faced a stumbling defeat in the 2014 General election after which they thought to bring up an alliance and work together to remove the deepening imprints of BJP. This election result questions their ability to do so more than ever before.
In West Bengal too, for the first time in history we can see BJP getting stronger against the most powerful and dominated party there – TMC, headed by Ms. Mamta Banerjee. The stats in West Bengal this time are 22- TMC and 18 – BJP which when compared to previous election results (2014) show a steep rise in BJP won constituencies. (In 2014, TMC was at 34 seats while BJP was at 2 and CPM was also at 2). Ms. Mamta Banerjee was anguished by the significant inroads made by BJP which is spreading itself deeper into the state. Indeed, a stiff competition by NDA and the reaping of the hard work in these years. INC/UPA reduced its share from 4 in 2014 to 2 in 2019 being the sick man again.
December 2018 was the time when the assembly election results of 3 states, namely, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan were announced. We saw Congress being victorious in all the three states when it came to state assembly elections, however, the Lok Sabha elections came up with altogether a different story. Of the 65 parliamentary seats in the three states that Congress won in December 2018, the party could bag a mere three – two in Chhattisgarh and one in Madhya Pradesh. Like in 2014, it drew a blank in Rajasthan. What changed in a mere 4 months? Is the perception of the public different towards party ruling the state and center? Do people want to see Congress in state and BJP in the center? These are questions that arise when we look at the results of the recent election. Indian politics can mold itself into any unpredictable shape. However, the good point is we can see India making judgments only after proper analysis of the actual performance of the party. The major reason for a setback for Congress is the unfulfilled promises it made which made the electorate question the intentions of the party. The assured unemployment allowances of Rs. 3000 to men and Rs. 3500 to women promised by Mr. Gehlot in Rajasthan, during the time of assembly elections, were never delivered. In Chhattisgarh, a budget provision was made but no plan fructified. Unaddressed farmer distress and feud in the top leadership of the party were also the reasons for the downfall of Congress in these states. BJP is leading in Chhattisgarh with around 6.34 lakh votes while INC is just behind at 4.92 lakh votes. In Rajasthan, the BJP has made a clean sweep with lead in 24 of 25 Lok Sabha seats. M.P has also seen similar fete in the general elections 2019.
Kerala has been the best shot for INC again this time. With nearly 40% of the Muslim population, Kerala again saw constituencies taken over by the INC and Mr. Rahul Gandhi winning from Wayanad district. Clearly, this state is not suitable for BJP brand of politics. Though the saffron party has set on board remarkable victories in East, West, and North of India, it was still not able to secure a Lok Sabha seat in Kerala. The Congress-led UDF has registered a remarkable victory with 19 out of 20 parliamentary constituencies in Kerala. Sabarimala issue which was believed to serve as the game changer for BJP for a political campaign in Kerala did not pay off. The politics being played over the matter was completely visible. However, BJP was at 2nd position in the Thiruvananthapuram seat, Tharoor was a lakh vote ahead of his BJP counterpart.
Punjab has also seen Congress lead on 8 of 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab. The BJP-Shiromani Akali Dal alliance led at 4 constituencies while AAP managed to get one seat.
The Modi Wave
With all this, it’s important to figure out what factors served BJP led NDA to retain power again at the center and the downfall of the United Progressive Alliance.
Nationalism and National Security:
The Pulwama attack and the post-attack developments which included Indian retaliation by the attack on the terrorist base camps in Pakistan did put Modi into a very bold image and became a political narrative. Bringing back Abhinandan was also a crucial touchpoint. This action displayed the concern of BJP towards National Security and developed a perception in the common man’s mind that Modi is a nationalist. Also, touchwood, during the tenure, no terrorist attacks happened in any of the Indian metros or cities, indicating stringent security measures being implemented all over the country. Modi could grab a significant vote bank because of this.
Lot of work for poor –
Modi, during his tenure, displayed a special affinity for poor of the country with effective and well-planned policies on board. Policies like Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana which aims of providing free or affordable housing to urban poor as well as rural poor with a target of 20 million affordable houses by 31 March 2022 contributed towards Modi’s victory at the center. Other schemes Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, aims to build in house toilets in rural households and Ujjwala Yojana with aim of distributing 50 million LPG connections to the women of BPL families, were stepping stone towards BJP’s success. Make in India campaign and Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana were some policies on board which is aiding to skill development and employability of youth in India. The government promised 1.5 times of the cost of inputs to the farmers as MSP on certain crops which were a relief to distressed and low income generating farmers of the country As you can see BJP has schemes for people of all the section, caste, gender, and age. The policy framing and planning is very effective and vote bank targeting is appreciable.
The schemes like Digital India, a smart city as well as demonetization grabbed the attention of working and business class of the society. All this gave birth to a Modi wave all across the country. The election results tell the same story.
The Opposition not clearly the opposition
Another reason for BJP emerging winner is a weak loser (opposition). Why INC could not sustain the competition? What went wrong? Let’s figure out
The INC came up with NYAY Yojana (a surgical strike on poverty as said by Congress) which promised Rs. 72,000 as minimum income guarantee to low-income households, targeting 5 crore households in the bottom of the pyramid. The scheme was announced by Indira Gandhi back in 1971 which Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi decided to bring it back. The scheme proposed is believed to be appealing. However, Congress’ ineffective communication strategy failed to bring such policies on the front and grab attention. Further, because of improper implementation of such policies along with loaded corruption during the big congress tenure, failed congress to grab the common man’s confidence.
During the campaign, the slogan raised “Chowkidar Chor hai” was perceived to be demeaning and unethical on political grounds. The allegations put by Congress that Modi was a fraud when it came to Rafale deal, were never proved and were clearly defended by the ruling party, putting Rahul Gandhi at a wrong place. People believed that INC is playing political propaganda on the issue. INC did not take leverage of the opportunity to be a part of big and strong allies in the country, especially at Uttar Pradesh. The allies formed by it were uneven all over the country and the leadership of the party is not perceived to be so strong.
With this grand victory, India has now got a new synonym for triumph and they call it “Narendra Modi”. The firmness with which Mr. Modi has held the power for his first term has been praised and readily accepted by the majority of India which can be seen in the General Election results in 2019. It will be interesting to see what India has brought for itself in the next five years.
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