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BJP’s historic victory stuns all opponents

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : May 24, 2019, 12:00 am IST
Updated : May 24, 2019, 7:19 am IST

Modi's win can be described as nothing less than historic and sweeping.

Bharatiya Janata Party workers welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he, along with BJP president Amit Shah, arrives at the party headquarters to celebrate the party’s victory in the Lok Sabha elections in New Delhi (Photo: AP)
 Bharatiya Janata Party workers welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he, along with BJP president Amit Shah, arrives at the party headquarters to celebrate the party’s victory in the Lok Sabha elections in New Delhi (Photo: AP)

The BJP has come through an arduous and bitterly contested election campaign with an earth-shattering win under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, pushing its main rival, the Congress, right back under the carpet in parliamentary numbers, with its chief Rahul Gandhi losing Amethi in UP, one of the two seats he fought. Mr Gandhi’s humbling in UP is likely to hurt his party’s future prospects in India’s largest state.

The Congress Party’s victories under Jawaharlal Nehru were more impressive in their sweep. But the contest in the Nehru era was not sharply etched in ideological or political terms as the country's first PM was the darling of the freedom struggle and towered over his contemporaries. In 1971 and 1980, Indira Gandhi also recorded wins that were more impressive than the BJP's present victory.

Nevertheless, Mr Modi's win can be described as nothing less than historic and sweeping. It put paid to the hopes of not only the Congress but of all regional leaders who had opposed the BJP and Mr Modi, in particular dalit icon Mayawati, West Bengal supremo Mamata Banerjee, and Andhra Pradesh CM N. Chandrababu Naidu, who had attempted to midwife the ballot box revolt against Mr Modi and the BJP. Mr Naidu has also lost in the Assembly polls and will pass on the baton to YSR Congress leader Jagan Mohan Reddy, whose party won every Lok Sabha seat in the state.

In West Bengal, the BJP’s tally was close to that of Trinamul Congress, the state’s ruling party led by chief minister Mamata Banerjee. This can lead to a heady expansion, potentially in the direction of capturing power in the state in the next Assembly election in 2021.

It was stunning to see Mr Modi lead his party to win all seats in a number of states in northern and western India, exactly as he had done in 2014, when he was a debutant in national politics. In 2019, people placed their faith in a man they had come to know.

The Modi government has not distinguished itself with policy successes, and a large section of people of all classes are hurting, especially farmers and workers. This was evidently disregarded as people cast their ballots. Probably the single most plausible explanation for this is the general appeal of the BJP and Mr Modi himself - who is widely seen as the “Hindu Hriday Samrat (ruler of Hindu hearts)”.

In a thanksgiving speech after victory, Mr Modi ridiculed “secularism”  and “appeasement” (the BJP’s dismissive expression for positive discrimination policies for minorities), and extolled “nationalism”. If this is a sign of worry, he also praised the Constitution and said he would run his government through “consensus”. It’s early to make a prognosis.

Tags: narendra modi, rahul gandhi, 17thloksabhaelectionresults