India’s 16th General Election has been unique for many reasons. No previous election has been so relentlessly and exhaustively discussed; no previous election — not even the post-Emergency election of 1977 — has aroused so much passion, so much fury; so much hope and so much fear. And in no previous election has the result been so completely a foregone conclusion. But almost no one thought that the BJP would get as many as 282 seats, a comfortable majority on its own, and the Congress would be reduced to a pathetic rump party with only 45 seats.
These results have left the opponents of the BJP and the secular liberal intelligentsia in shock. But for the country, this is not by any means an unmitigated disaster. Its most obvious blessing is that it will ensure a smooth and swift transition of power to the new government. Had the results been indeterminate; had the BJP found it difficult to form a government, there would have been a collapse of confidence in the Indian economy abroad and a run of dollars out of the country, which would have destroyed whatever chance remained for a quick economic recovery.
Narendra Modi’s IT cells harped on about development models and the Sangh backed the social media campaign on ground. But a consolidation of Hindu votes did it for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh
282. That is a gain of 171 seats for the BJP over 2009. Yet, a little after 4 PM, a beaming Amit Shah, Narendra Modi’s most-trusted aide, singled out Uttar Pradesh to thank the voters in the state from “the bottom of his heart”.
Other states have backed the BJP more single-mindedly. Rajasthan, for example, gave the party a vote share of more than 50 percent and all of its 25 seats. But it was UP that turned the Modi wave into a tsunami. But for those 71 seats the BJP bagged in the state, the landmark of single- party majority after three long decades since the late Rajiv Gandhi rode a sympathy wave in 1984 would not have been achieved.
Even where there was no Modi wave, he infused confidence in BJP candidates and trepidation among their rivals, says Neeraj Mishra
Two women stand tall amid the ruins that TsuNaMo has caused in the political arena. West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, led by Mamata Banerjee and J Jayalalithaa, respectively, have turned the tide. Would it then have made a difference if Sushma Swaraj and not Narendra Modi had been the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, or more to the point, if Sonia Gandhi had continued to lead the Congress instead of pitchforking a half-baked Rahul? It is a moot question now, but worth asking in the context of the fine print that is obviously missed in the first flush of an overwhelming election result.
What makes the 16th Lok Sabha polls the first truly ‘national’ election in India
First conducted in 1952, General Elections in India have changed dramatically in terms of scale and scope to emerge as the world’s largest democratic exercise today. Yet a majority of elections in the past two decades have remained the same in contours and composition. Canvassing techniques — primarily roadshows, public rallies, giant posters and, of course, abstruse methods of bribing poor voters — and the primary contenders — regional patriarchs, India’s most revered dynast and a bewildered Hindu nationalist party positioning itself as a Right alternative — have been undistinguishable to an extent.