Indian elections: Modi strategy ensured absolute majority for BJP

All the Delhi seats went to the BJP, dealing a body blow to the Congress.

By Sohail Ashraf (Analysis)

Published: Sat 24 May 2014, 11:44 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 2:02 AM

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) landslide victory in the Indian parliamentary elections and the humiliating defeat of the Congress and its allies have surpassed the results of 1977 post-emergency polls.

Two factors played significant role in a meteoric rise in the number of winning seats for the BJP. One, the people’s anger against the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government over corruption issues and price hike and the other was BJP leader Narendra Modi’s popularity among the masses irrespective of their ideolgical affiliations.

And it’s not only the Congress that met its Waterloo. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that rode on the popularity of its anti-corruption movement suffered a massive setback in the polls. The party was shocked when it did not open its account in Delhi that was once considered as its citadel. All the Delhi seats went to the BJP, dealing a body blow to the Congress as well.

The fact that the AAP lost its charm and trust among the people just after its government’s resignation in Delhi, can’t be denied. Its leader Arvind Kejriwal, who seemed to be politically naive, behaved amateurishly by quitting as chief minister, demonstrating a lack of sensitivity and responsibility towards the electorate. Undoubtedly, that left an impression on the voters in Delhi that the AAP can never be serious as far as the party’s approach towards governance is concerned. Its experience in governance was zero.

While the Congress did not have a single strategy to match the election juggernaut of Modi, the BJP leader continued to unleash captivating speeches on issues stuffed with sarcasm on the Congress-led UPA government. Modi completed his run to parliament in less than a year since he started to address rallies after being declared as the National Democratic Alliance’s (NDA) prime ministerial candidate. Unfortunately, as there was no one in the Congress to match Modi’s flawless speech, the BJP leader continued to draw millions to his rallies. His PR team created Brand Modi that captured popular imagination and support of people in even remote areas. This redefined the electoral campaign and was a departure from the traditional factors driving Indian politics. Modi fully used the digital media whereby he addressed people in more than 100 places via his 3D video conferencing. Undoubtedly, his campaign relied on two things — connect with and speak to the masses and make the leader’s presence felt.

One of the heaviest casualties of the elections was the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) of Mayawati which had a lower caste vote base in Uttar Pradesh. Modi’s backward caste label came in handy for the BJP leader and that played a spoilsport for the BSP. Many of the lower castes vote that could have gone in favour of the BSP, went to the BJP as the poor strata of society saw stronger national alternative in Modi. While the BJP’s upper caste vote was intact, the backward castes switched their loyalties to Modi.

The same situation more or less prevailed in Bihar where the lower caste electorate sided with Modi apart from the BJP’s traditional upper caste vote.

And the last nail in the coffin of the Congress vote bank was driven when Modi twisted Priyanka Gandhi’s Nichi Rajneeti (low-level politics) statement to ‘lower caste’ politics, generating a mass antagonism among the Dalits and turning them against the Congress.

The poll results defied all analyses that were shy of absolute majority for the BJP in the polls. The result showed that it was indeed a Modi wave that swept the party to victory. And this wave played a significant role in capturing the unimaginable number of seats in Uttar Pradesh, triggering electoral tremors in the state. As UP had always been the road to parliament because of its share of 80 seats, the state became the epicentre of the electoral debacle for the Congress, the BSP and even the Samajwadi Party.

With this win, the BJP will be in a comfortable position because it won’t have the pulls and strain of the coalition as experienced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who had admitted “compulsions of managing a coalition. There will be difficulties. There have been difficulties”.

There can be no doubt that Modi will have to work for the development of the country for which he has been given a massive mandate. He will have to deliver good governance and lead the nation to the height of prosperity and make India a place that could be rightly called the abode of peace for all communities and that will be the real unity in diversity.

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