By Deepak Parvatiyar
In the Lok Sabha elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party has responded with a spectacular display of those who were ready to write it off after its defeats in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh in the state elections of 2018.
The massive defeat of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance and the below par show of the much talked about Grand Alliance between Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh, and the humiliating defeat of Laloo Yadav’s Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar too have led virtually to an ‘Opposition-free’ India this time. The saving graces for the Opposition though are the performances of the Dravid Munnetra Kazhagham in Tamil Nadu and the Congress led alliance in Kerala. Even Trinamool Congress as well as the Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s bases in West Bengal have this time been severely jolted by the BJP.
There are indications that other Southern parties such as the Telugu Rashtra Samiti and YSR Congress Party may now extend support to the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance. In Odisha, Biju Janata Dal may also support the BJP. The picture will be clear soon.
As for the Congress, Rahul has yet again proved to be disastrous as its president, despite a brief respite that he got after the party’s rare wins in the state assembly elections in MP, and Chhattisgarh last year. What seems more worrying is that even the wild card entry of his sister Priyanka Vadra as party general secretary could not make any impact on the voters. The question being asked is whether this will be the end of dynasty rule in the Congress?
Incidentally this is the first time ever since Rahul’s grandmother Indira Gandhi had won absolute majority in 1971 that an incumbent Prime Minister could return with such a thumping majority on his own.
But not very long ago, the entire opposition had started writing the epitaph of BJP’s most popular face and prime minister Narendra Modi after the poor performance of the party in Modi’s home state Gujarat in the 2017 assembly elections, when the BJP got only 99 seats in the 182-member Gujarat Assembly. This was the BJP’s worst performance ever since it came to power in in Gujarat in 1995.
In the state assembly elections, the Congress-led Opposition had earlier tried to target Modi to cash in on the poor performance of the BJP in Gujarat and claimed the game was over for him after the BJP’s defeats in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan last year. But this time in the Lok Sabha, the BJP’s massive victory in these states has proved once again that the results of the state elections cannot be the right basis of predicting the outcome of the Lok Sabha elections. The same had happened in 2004 when the then BJP government at the Centre under prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had grossly overestimated its victories in MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh and preponed the general elections by six months to capitalise on its victories in these three states. It had lost the general elections then.
This time, in its haste to project Modi in bad light, the Congress grossly overlooked the election slogan in Rajasthan which said: “Modi tujhse bair nahin, Rani teri khair nahin!” (We have nothing against Modi but will not tolerate the queen (then chief minister Vasundhara Raje).
Gujarat BJP spokesman, Bharat Pandya, said that there was no doubt about the BJP’s massive victory. He said, “It is a matter of pride for the Gujaratis that Gujarat is leading the country. Unlike the state elections which were contested on state issues, this time they voted for the nation and Narendra Modi.”
Election results show that like in 2014, in 2019 too, the Modi magic remains intact. This time, 64.11% voting in Gujarat broke the record of 63.77% voting in 1967 in his home state.
So should Modi be given all credit for the BJP’s splendid performance? He does deserve all accolades but, as Kapil Vyas – a school time associate of BJP president Amit Shah told us, Shah’s hard work and his execution of Modi’s plans made it possible for the BJP to emerge triumphant. Indeed the two made a formidable pair and who else than Rahul Gandhi knows it better now?
A press conference of BJP president Amit Shah where prime minister Narendra Modi surprised all by sitting next to Shah without taking questions from journalists on the last day of voting is significant. It gives an insight on how Modi strategized the poll campaign and on the level of detailing that the Modi-Shah duo did in the run-up to the elections and thereafter during the elections. Any skeptic could have easily dismissed such an account as an hyperbole, more sarcastically, as yet another jumla from Modi’s stable. Modi’s silence could have been construed either as his weakness or arrogance. But not anymore.
The historic verdict in favour of the BJP led National Democratic Alliance speaks volumes of the capabilities of Modi and his Man Friday, Shah. Their organisational capacity was never in doubt ever since they paired up to form a formidable team. They have been a perfect foil to each other and complement each other. Modi is the strategist, Shah is the executioner. Together what they achieved today was always elusive since the days of Indira Gandhi.
Today Modi is back all on his own and the support of NDA to his BJP is only of academic interest. Ironically indeed, Modi has demolished Indira’s grandchildren Rahul and Priyanka, in the process. Rahul, the Congress president, could not even win from the traditional stronghold of the Gandhi’s, Amethi this time. The only solace was that he could get elected from Wayanad in down south state of Kerala where the BJP is yet to get a firm foothold.
The 2019 verdict has further demolished egos of several regional satraps such as Akhilesh Yadav, Laloo Yadav, Mayawati, Nara Chandra Babu Naidu, Sharad Pawar, Arvind Kejriwal and Mamata Banerjee. Only few such as Stalin in Tamil Nadu, Jagan Reddy in Andhra, and to an extent K.Chandrashekhar Rao and Navin Patnaik could salvage some pride but with the exception of Stalin, Rao and Patnaik may be looking to be a part of the NDA for their own survival. Jagan and Patnaik respectively may soon take command of Andhra and Odisha as next CM after their party’s victory in these two states in the assembly elections held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha poll. Unlike Mamta and Kejriwal, they as well as KCR know the importance of maintaining a congenial relationship with the Centre for developing their own states. At some point in time they all and even Chandra Babu and Stalin were parts of the NDA.
After this historic win, all eyes will be on how the BJP proceeds to complete its unfinished agenda such as abrogating Articles 35A and 370. Will it now successfully push for a Uniform Civil Code? This time it will also have the required mandate in the Rajya Sabha uñlike its previous term. Yet another question that will merit attention would be that who will succeed Shah as the next BJP president as Shah is already on an extended term. In all likelihood he will be inducted in the new cabinet.
Modi’s historic victory also signifies victory of aspirational and nationalistic politics. With such a huge mandate, expectations from Modi will increase manifold. He will have a lot to do to deliver his promises now.