An A-Z primer of what this polling season was all about
The final phase of the Lok Sabha polls ended on May 19. The marathon election season, which will see its conclusion with the results on May 23, saw a mix of old and new issues being discussed and debated by political leaders in rallies and experts in newsrooms and newspapers.
So, which were the issues that dominated during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections? Here's an A-Z primer of what the polling season was all about.
A for Alliances: In the run-up to Counting Day, alliances and the role they will play have dominated the discussions. Will a Third Front form the government? How would equations within the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) play out if the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) falls short of majority? Or is this the year of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA)?
B for Brand Modi: Reports from the ground suggested a certain level of dissatisfaction with the local BJP leaders. However, they were going to vote for the BJP simply because of their faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PM Modi himself, during rallies, highlighted that pressing the lotus symbol would ensure a vote for him.
C for Congress: Would the Grand Old Party revive itself after the 2014 debacle? Can Congress President Rahul Gandhi manage to stitch a post-poll alliance to stake claim to power? Or would it fall even lower? Those were the questions being asked as the campaigning began in March.
D for Dynasty: From Rajiv Gandhi, Nehru to 'Bua-Bhatija', one of the major issues this election season was the politics of dynasty.
E for Election Commission: The Election Commission has been in the news throughout the campaigning period, and not always for good reasons. While the EC was lauded for its thoughtful arrangement during the polls, it has been accused of partisanship by both the BJP (in West Bengal) and the Opposition (in the entire country).
F for Farmers' Distress: Along with other issues, farmers' distress in states like Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh was a topic of political discourse (and mudslinging).
G for Gathbandhan: The Gathbandhan in Uttar Pradesh made headlines for two reasons: the coming together of longtime rivals SP-BSP and their decision to keep out Congress. Whether those two decisions bear fruit will only be known on May 23.
H for 'Hua toh Hua': Congress would like to believe that all was going well until one of its leaders, Sam Pitroda, made this comment that the BJP was quick to lap up. PM Modi made sure he linked the 'hua toh hua' comment to everything that the Congress ever did or has done.
I for Internal Security: This election season was dominated by internal security, or rather about who can provide it. During his rallies, PM Modi highlighted among his government's achievements the Balakot air strike, the 2016 surgical strikes and the listing of Masood Azhar as global terrorist.
J for Jobs: Or rather, job crisis. Rahul Gandhi has spoken about it extensively in his rallies, targeting the BJP government for what he says is its inability to create jobs.
K for 'Khan Market Gang': In an interview with the Indian Express, PM Modi coined the term 'Khan Market Gang' for the 'Lutyens elite', stating that they have not created his image. The term has found resonance on social media ever since.
L for Loan Waivers: Congress won the assembly elections in the three heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh on the promise of loan waiver to farmers. While the BJP has accused the Congress of going back on its promise, Congress has stated that it has waived off loans, including those of former MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's brothers.
M for Mamata: The BJP's aim of making inroads into West Bengal pitted it against the state CM Mamata Banerjee. The elections in Bengal were marred by violence and personal jabs, with things reaching a flash point during BJP president Amit Shah's roadshow in Kolkata.
N for Nyay: The Congress' flagship scheme, Nyay, created buzz after it was announced. While Gandhi has been repeating the story of how the idea for Nyay was developed in his rallies, reports suggest that it has not made much impact on the ground.
O for Optics: The 2019 election was all about optics, arguably more than any other election in India's recent history. For PM Modi, the Balakot airstrikes provided for good optics, politically, and he made the issue his top priority in rallies.
P for Prime Minister: It all boils down to who will assume the top post eventually, doesn't it? While PM Modi has been urging people to vote so that he becomes the Prime Minister again, in the Opposition camp the discussion is all about who will head the country if the alliance manages to form the government.
Q for Quota: The quota for Economically Weaker Section (EWS) of society, approved by the Union cabinet in January, was highlighted by PM Modi as one of government's important achievements.
R for Rafale*: Rahul Gandhi kept up his attack on PM Modi throughout the election campaigning, accusing the Prime Minister of corruption in the Rafale deal. The BJP, on its part, defended the deal and hurled counter-accusations.
S for Surgical Strike: National security dominated the election narrative this time around. Surgical strikes carried out in 2016, and the Balakot air strikes— also called Surgical Strike 2.0— were the basis of PM Modi's national security push.
T for Temple: Both the lack of discussion surrounding the temple in Ayodhya, which many had said would be a major topic during the polls, and the temple run of various leaders dominated the campaigning.
U for Undercurrent: Is there an undercurrent against Modi? Is there an undercurrent in favour of Modi? Can an undercurrent for the SP-BSP alliance in UP tilt things in favour of the Opposition? Political experts grappled with these questions throughout the election season. We will know the answers only on May 23.
V for Voter: Because without the voter, there will be no election and no Prime Minister. The EC has said that at 67 percent, 2019 was a record voting turnout.
W for WhatsApp: Or rather, WhatsApp forwards, where unverified news has the ability to cause violence. The Election Commission had, in fact, announced that the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) would have to be followed on social media as well this time around.
X for Xenophobia: While most of the campaigning this time focused on issues such as development and security, there were some comments which created controversy for their xenophobic nature. For instance, Amit Shah's pledge to remove "every single infiltrator" except "Buddhists, Hindus and Sikhs" and referring to illegal migrants as "termites" were criticised widely.
Y for YSR: The YSR Congress and its chief Jaganmohan Reddy have managed to create a buzz by presenting a credible challenge to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu. Elections for the AP assembly were carried out simultaneously with the general elections.
Z for Generation Z: The Generation Z, consisting of those born in the mid-90's, voted for the first time in this election. There were over 130 million first-time voters this time around.*Disclaimer: Reliance Defence has denied any wrongdoing in the Rafale deal.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.