...Se­ries of Records

The Economic Times - - News Of The Day -

At his vic­tory rally at Vado­dara, one of the two con­stituen­cies in which he con­tested elec­tions, Modi said his vic­tory mar­gin was a record-break­ing 570,000 votes and cred­ited his party’s win to the coun­try’s vi­brant democ­racy. He also drove home the point that his will be the first real, sin­gle-party, non-Congress govern­ment since In­de­pen­dence. There were other smaller records too. Modi, when he takes of­fice next week, will be­come the first prime min­is­ter to have been bor n in In­de­pen­dent In­dia and one with a com­pelling jour­ney that be­gan as a tea seller who left home as a youth on a jour­ney that saw him meta­mor­phose from an RSS pracharak to a BJP ap­pa­ratchik to Gu­jarat’s chief min­is­ter be­fore run­ning for the high­est of­fice in the land af­ter fac­ing down op­po­si­tion from within the party led by his for­mer men­tor and BJP pa­tri­arch LK Ad­vani. As the mag­ni­tude of BJP’s per­for­mance, which ex­ceeded most fore­casts, sank in, an­a­lysts were scram­bling to make sense of the ver­dict. BJP’s vote share rose dra­mat­i­cally from 18.8% in 2009 to 31.6% in 2014 while Congress’ share fell nine per­cent­age points to 19.6%. So­ci­ol­o­gist Shiv Vish­wanathan called it a case of “dou­ble his­tory be­ing made”. “The dec­i­ma­tion of Congress and the fu­ture of BJP be­ing built with tremen­dous elec­toral root­ed­ness,” he said.

Po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst Mi­lan Vaish­nav of Carnegie En­dow­ment said the re­sults con­clu­sively proved that the so­called Modi wave was real and not a me­dia cre­ation as had been al­leged by his de­trac­tors. “The ge­o­graphic spread of BJP into new ar­eas, not to men­tion out­right sweeps in ar­eas where it has tra­di­tion­ally been a player. That the anti-Congress vote did go to BJP and not re­gional play­ers is a sign that BJP was rid­ing a wave. Fi­nally, the move among the youth, OBCs and res­i­dents in both ru­ral and ur­ban In­dia sug­gests that Modi was able to con­nect with new vot­ers through his as­pi­ra­tional agenda,” he said. Modi, 63, had cam­paigned on a de­vel­op­ment agenda, show­cas­ing his record in Gu­jarat and his rep­u­ta­tion of be­ing a de­ci­sive leader and sought to con­trast him­self with his op­po­nents in Congress who were por- trayed by him as dy­nasts out of touch with re­al­ity, fi­nan­cially reck­less and over­seers of a govern­ment that was cor­rupt and had dam­aged the econ­omy.

He used a pres­i­den­tial style of cam­paign us­ing new so­cial me­dia tools and en­gag­ing op­po­nents in a de­bate over “Gu­jarat model of govern­ment”. “I forced the dis­course to be cen­tered on de­vel­op­ment even if it meant hav­ing people crit­i­cise Gu­jarat and me,” he told an­other of his vic­tory ral­lies in Ahmed­abad.

For those who fear that a BJP govern­ment with a brute ma­jor­ity and a weak­ened op­po­si­tion would now turn to a hard­line Hin­dutva agenda, Modi let it be known in his speech that the fo­cus of his ad­min­is­tra­tion would re­main de­vel­op­ment.

“De­vel­op­ment is the only agenda that can save the na­tion…There’s only one so­lu­tion to all our prob­lems — de­vel­op­ment. There’s only one medicine for all our ills — de­vel­op­ment. With­out de­vel­op­ment, this coun­try will not sur­vive,” he said.

His prom­ise of de­vel­op­ment on the stump ap­peared to suc­cess­fully tran­scend state bound­aries, en­abling BJP, long seen as a north and western In­dia-cen­tered party, to hoist its flag in far­away places. Un­like the postEmer­gency rout in 1977 when south In­dia stood firmly with Congress, BJP has this time ef­fec­tively re­placed Congress as a na­tional party. From Kutch to Ka­marup and Kash­mir to Thiruvananthapuram (well, Ker­ala re­mains one state where BJP is yet to open its ac­count de­spite a very close con­test for the state cap­i­tal), BJP has be­come a big­ger na­tional party than Congress.

It dec­i­mated the Grand Old Party to a pitiable con­di­tion in all bipo­lar con­tests scor­ing a Per­fect Ten in Gu­jarat and Ra­jasthan and re­duc­ing Congress to a ci­pher in Ma­ha­rash­tra, Mad­hya Pradesh and Ch­hat­tis­garh. For Congress, which has ruled the coun­try for most of its post-In­de­pen­dence his­tory, its poor tally may not even be enough for it to stake claim for the sta­tus of the Leader of Op­po­si­tion. A party re­quires 10% of the to­tal seats to make it to the po­si­tion with a cab­i­net rank.

Cel­e­brat­ing the un­prece­dented, his­toric vic­tory, BJP Pres­i­dent Ra­j­nath Singh summed it up as “a man­date for change and it is a man­date for Modi. “People from all seg­ments have voted for BJP break­ing the bar­ri­ers of caste, re­li­gion, creed and re­gion. BJP was con­sid­ered an ur­ban party, but it has emerged as a party of slums, vil­lages, poor and all sec­tions of the so­ci­ety,” he said. From his first elec­tion in 2002 to the Gu­jarat as­sem­bly to his first Par­lia­ment elec­tion in 2014, Modi’s achieve­ments have far sur­passed those of all his pre­de­ces­sors in­clud­ing what for­mer BJP prime min­is­ter Atal Bi­hari Va­j­payee and for­mer deputy PM LK Ad­vani achieved in their hey­days. Modi, of all lead­ers as­signed by RSS to lead BJP, has been the most suc­cess­ful in en­er­gis­ing the Sangh Pari­var cadre, mo­bil­is­ing the vot­ers and turn­ing BJP into an en­tity ca­pa­ble of rul­ing the cen­tre on its own. Va­j­payee in 1998 and 1999 had to de­pend on at least two-dozen al­lies, in­clud­ing some from out­side and could not in­crease his party’s reach be­yond the tra­di­tional Hindi strongholds. Modi dur­ing his vic­tory speech un­der­lined the fact that an ide­o­log­i­cally non-Congress party has come of age, that too un­der the lead­er­ship of a post-In­de­pen­dence gen­er­a­tion.

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