Narendra Modi is all set to become the first non-Congress prime minister to return to power after a full five-year term.
First, the obvious – what happened today was nothing short of historic. In about ninety minutes of counting, we already knew what was happening. There is no equivocating about it – this was a landslide. The BJP did exceedingly well in 2014, and set a high bar for themselves, both in terms of voteshare and number of seats. In 2019, they have done even better. I do not know why natural calamities have been appropriated to define electoral victories, but this is a landslide and a tsunami and a volcano all rolled into one. What they will leave behind is the story of the next five years. For now, the country is awash with saffron. Abki baar, 300 paar. Game of Thrones left a lot of fans disappointed, but this baap of all shows, the biggest game of thrones, has most of the nation’s approval. Approval of the sort we have not seen in decades.
Narendra Modi is all set to become the first non-Congress prime minister to return to power after a full five-year term. In 2014, the BJP was the first party to gain a full majority on its own in thirty years, after the Congress under Rajiv Gandhi in 1984. In 2019, Modi has emulated Rajiv Gandhi’s mother Indira Gandhi. Not since Mrs Gandhi’s return to power with a majority of Congress’s own has a party been able to do the same, and Modi is set to change that. With this, one has to ask oneself a few questions, even if sotto voce – is the conception of India as a secular republic now to be relegated to the history books? Is this hybrid of muscular nationalism and (often toxic) Hindutva ideology what defines the next Indian epoch?
Chetan Bhagat is now a political analyst; Pragya Thakur, a terror accused, is now a member of the Lok Sabha; the Left has been decimated in Bengal. This is where we are now. This is 2019. This is us now. Good or bad – I will leave that to the historians – but this is a New India, and we have taken a sharp turn right.
The Indian voter is clever – she knows what may work locally might not work nationally. Nowhere did we see this better than in the cases of Odisha, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh. The latter three, which elected Congress into their legislative assemblies only a few months ago, voted overwhelmingly for Modi. Not the BJP, not the NDA, they voted for Modi. This was an election fought on Modi’s name, and this is his vindication.
At the time of publishing this, the NDA is comfortably off, set to gain 356 seats, with the BJP alone winning 305. The UPA is projected to win 88 seats, and other parties 98. The BJP has also significantly improved its voteshare, including in states where its presence was less than impressive in previous years, like Odisha and West Bengal. In UP, where the BSP-SP combine was expected to prove a worthy opponent to the BJP, what we saw was a damp squib. While this election has registered that Indians want more of the same when it comes to the BJP, it has also shown us that the electorate wants the old guard of the other parties gone. Sheila Dixit, Mallikarjun Kharge, Deve Gowda, Veerappa Moily, Digvijay Singh… big names, prime minister and chief ministers among them, have been dealt defeats. The new non-BJP crop has not had much success either. The inner coterie of Rahul Gandhi are all facing imminent defeat – Jyotiraditya Scindia (from the family bastion of Guna), Sushmita Dev (Silchar), Gaurav Gogoi (Kaliaburg), Deepender Hooda (Rohtak), Milind Deora (South Mumbai, Mukesh Ambani’s support notwithstanding.
Rahul Gandhi himself is facing defeat at the hands of Smriti Irani in Amethi, although he has won in Wayanad. Clearly the party cadre knew what was coming when they made the choice to have him contest in two seats. Amit Shah, on the other hand, is winning Gandhinagar in a massive landslide.
The South has proven itself impervious to the spreading shade of saffron. North and Coastal Karnataka have given in, but the ramparts are strong in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Perhaps that is just a matter of time.
If we have understood anything about the events of today, it is that Modi is the defining leader of our times. If he and his party play their cards right – and there is no reason to think they won’t – they will write the screenplay that will come to define the country in this century. Is Modi the person necessary? If they are any clever, they will pull a Hinduism on this one, and write a story that involves reincarnation. Sambhavaami yuge yuge. But in this yug, what we have seen is the near vishwaroop darshan of one humble teaseller from Gujarat.Reaganism did not need Reagan. Trumpism does not need Trump. Moditva will not need Modi.Subscribe to Moneycontrol Pro and gain access to curated markets data, exclusive trading recommendations, independent equity analysis, actionable investment ideas, nuanced takes on macro, corporate and policy actions, practical insights from market gurus and much more.