All India chants: Modi, Modi, Modi

By Vijay Badhwar

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has swept to power for his second term in a resounding victory encompassing the whole country. There is no Hindi belt any more, nor a North-South-East-West divide; it’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) all the way.

BJP has crossed the 300 barrier on its own, nearly winning 20 more seats than in 2014 when Mr Modi was introduced on the national scene. Now the electorate, having experienced his leadership, has massively validated his claim for the top job. The party can now govern the country in its own right not needing any alliances, winning more than half of the seats in the ballot for 543 of the 545 Lok Sabha seats.

It was a long campaign for the seven-phase poll from April 11 to May 19 with the results starting  to roll in on May 23. Although the exit polls forecast a return of Modi, the results confounded even the most sanguine pundits as BJP made inroads in West Bengal, retained a major hold in Uttar Pradesh in spite of the much-touted SP-BSP alliance and claimed almost a clean sweep in recently lost state territories of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

The formidable Modi-Shah team was surgical in its execution, the UPA, in comparison, with no clear visions except only targeting Modi, repeatedly reaching such lows as to call the PM a ”˜Chor’ (a thief). Mr Modi, too, responded sometimes in kind, not being magnanimous himself to drag into the pit  a former PM who was tragically assassinated.

The UPA team with Rahul Gandhi at the helm was no match for the well-oiled BJP electoral machine. He, indeed, sounded like a ”˜pappu’ when invoking: ”˜Pyar Kabhi haarta nahin’ (love never loses), with the sound bites of a ”˜Karan Johar melodrama’, a journalist commented.

No wonder that he lost the ”˜Parivar’ seat of 39 years in Amethi to BJP’s Smiriti Irani who may be rewarded for the ”˜giant kill’ with a cabinet post.

It was a no-holds-barred campaign frequently arbitrated by the Supreme Court. Oftentimes the Electoral Commission was targeted to provide reassurances that EVMs were not tempered, also for their security during storage in the long drawn poll process.

The Government did have some failing moments during its last term in demonetisation and implementation of a rather tedious GST policy resulting in economic downturn. But the Opposition could not fully exploit the imbroglio, nor their message of discontent among farmers. UPA’s sop of a Rs 72,000 annual gift to them also did not cut ice with the farmers, enough to influence the election results. Rahul Gandhi’s charges, however, on purchase of Rafale jets from French company, Dassault, still remain unresolved and chafed the Modi Government throughout the campaign.

The BJP’s campaign slogan, ”˜Sab ka saath, sab ka vikas’, on the other hand, was uniting and positive, pithy and compelling.  The Balakot strike was with an immaculate timing and it changed the narrative for the following campaign. The Modi machine had work on ground to prove that the poor had their lot looked after with building of toilets and supply of gas to households. That may have been one reason that women vote in this election went up a whopping 15 percent, mostly to give BJP an advantage.

Amit Shah savoured the victory with 20,000 volunteers at the BJP headquarters as the most historic since Independence. He said that the ”˜Parivar’ had made a vote bank of ”˜Jaativaad’ for the past 50 years that had ended with this victory. He singled out Chandrababu Naidu that he would have been better served if he had worked on the campaign rather than on the ”˜Gathbandhan’ after the polls.

Mr Shah especially applauded the inroads BJP had made in West Bengal by winning 18 seats that was a proof of failure of polarisation.

Prime Minister Modi was at times emotional in his victory address to the BJP workers. Quoting from Mahabharata, he said, that it was not his victory as Krishana had said. It was the people who had voiced that they stood for the nation, he said.

Mr Modi said that the election had changed the narrative by exposing the ”˜secular mask’ that parties had used to defraud the public. “Now only two classes remain – one is the poor, and the second who can alleviate poverty,” the PM said.

Narendra Modi thanked the people for lending their trust in him and vowed to return the favour with more responsibility: that he would not do anything with ill motive; won’t do anything for his own self; and that “every minute of my time, every part of my body is for the nation”.  

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