Election Results 2019: A perfect win for Narendra Modi
As polling moved from phase to phase, BJP continued to make all the right moves even while the Congress stuttered from one blunder to another, and the results are there for the country to see
In an election that has redefined Indian politics, the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party has become the first-ever non-Congress party to win a majority after five years in power. On its return to Luyten's Delhi, the National Democratic Alliance's principal member not only bettered its 2014 performance, but also ensured that Congress president Rahul Gandhi, leader of the opposition Mallikarjun Kharge and several other prominent Congress leaders whose families have been in politics for generations were defeated in their respective strongholds.
So thorough was the BJP's performance that the party's only regret would be that, in its pursuit of a Congress-mukt Bharat, it could not restrict the principal opposition party to its current strength of 44 in the Lok Sabha, thanks to the latter's strategic alliance in Tamil Nadu. It couldn't also stop Rahul Gandhi from winning Wayanad with a handsome margin.
Maha Hindi Heartland
Along the way, the BJP also defied popular perception that it would lose a considerable number of seats in the Hindi heartland, especially Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, the last three being states where it had lost the assembly elections last year. The forecast that the BJP wouldn't be able to compensate for losses it would suffer in its strongholds was put to rest by Thursday afternoon.
This was achieved with a little help from the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra and good returns in West Bengal, following a fierce battle with the Trinamool Congress. Karnataka, where it could not form the state government just months ago, gave it a substantial bonus. The Northeast and the hilly states stood by it, as did the National Capital region and adjoining areas. Above the Vindhyas, only Punjab eluded it. Gujarat, Modi's home state, remained with the BJP.
The opposition had dismissed most exit poll predictions of a landslide to the BJP, chiefly due to the prospects of regional parties in UP, West Bengal, Bihar and the southern states. Many felt that while Modi would return to power, he would need post-poll allies to form government. But the rousing victory, which BJP leaders credited to a strong Modi undercurrent, has spared the PM any blushes. He remains in a position to dictate terms to NDA partners who were wooed ahead of the Lok Sabha polls after some allies from 2014 left, alleging high-handedness by the PM and party president Amit Shah.
BJP's Madhya Pradesh in-charge Vinay Sahasrabuddhe told mid-day that the results in MP and other parts of the Hindi heartland were not unexpected. "Remember, the number of votes we and they [Congress] polled [in states that witnessed a direct fight] in the assembly elections was almost the same. We couldn't form governments there, but we did not stop working with the voters. The Lok Sabha polls were fought for a national cause and a PM candidate, Mr Modi. Anyways, people were [already] fed up with the Congress governments in those states."
Caste arithmetic blurs
While simplifying the BJP's repeat success in the Hindi belt, one would have to consider that the party was able to break the age-old caste equations that were a prominent reason for the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party to come together in UP and other parties to strike alliances in states like Bihar and Maharashtra. An overview of the votes polled indicates that the caste arithmetic failed the gathbandhan in segments where it expected big gains.
A sustained campaign by Modi tamed the SP-BSP alliance in the latter phases of electioneering. Touring across the country, Modi tried to change the narrative as and when required. He targetted the Congress dynasty, and combined local issues with national problems in his speeches. Shah also planned an exhaustive campaign, and delivered punches in association with UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who emerged as the most sought-after campaigner after the PM.
Priyanka Gandhi's magic did not work in Eastern UP, where she was put in charge of Congress affairs. Her only saving grace was her mother Sonia's win, even while she could not convince the voters of Amethi to turn against the BJP's Smriti Irani.
The perfect mix
The concoction of nationalism, internal and external security worked to the BJP's benefit. Hindutva had the desired effect in West Bengal, where communal polarisation reached a new high. Pragya Thakur's candidature from Bhopal changed the discourse for the entire election. While critics lashed out at the move, Thakur won comfortably against Digvijay Singh, who was tarnished as the man who coined the term 'Hindu terrorism'. This particular contest turned out to be a fight to prove Hindutva credentials as both candidates did not spare any trick.
The Congress's rants against demonetisation and GST, alleges corruption in the Rafale deal and accuses the BJP for failing to mitigate the agrarian crisis and unemployment problem failed to work. Assessing the victory's massive scale, Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis called the development historic. "We had been saying there was a silent undercurrent in favour Modiji and it would turn into a tsunami. Political pundits did not believe us. The unprecedented win will now allow us to sleep well in the days to come. We will have to start working from tomorrow itself to live up to the faith that the people have reposed."
Heroes and zeroes
- There are other interesting takeaways from the elections. Jagan Reddy's silent work enabled his YSR Congress stun N Chandrababu Naidu's TDP and movie star Pawan Kalyan's Jana Sena, by winning a majority in the Andhra Pradesh assembly and emerging with good Lok Sabha numbers. Jagan effectively ended Naidu's attempts to forge an anti-BJP front and make a name for himself at the national level.
- Bihar CM and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray gained the most by sticking with the BJP. Nitish had earlier broken away from Lalu Prasad Yadav to form government with the BJP. Thackeray, after being at the BJP's throat for most of the term, mended fences ahead of polls and reaped unexpected gains. Fadnavis played a major role in keeping the Sena-BJP flock together, amid pushback from the Congress-NCP and their non-contesting ally Raj Thackeray.
- AAP's Arvind Kejriwal and West Bengal CM Mamata Bannerjee were at the receiving end from the voters. Eternal weathervane Ramvilas Paswan will continue to benefit, while regional satraps like Lalu Yadav fell by the wayside. Odisha CM Navin Patnaik had a tacit understanding with the BJP, which helped him consolidate power and win a fifth term. The left parties shrunk like never before.
- NCP's Sharad Pawar will have to rein in his ambitions again, while thanking his loyalists for securing more seats than the Congress in Maharashtra. Nonetheless, his grandnephew Parth lost Maval, while daughter Supriya Sule managed to retain Baramati. Pawar should thank his stars, as this election saw many dynasties fall off the radar.
Election results 2019: Narendra Modi dedicates historic win to all Indians