The elections are over, and the results are out. Clearly, Mr Modi has led a resurgent BJP to a record victory. This was an election where the voter came out and voted for Mr Modi, for the work that he has done and to give him another mandate to complete what he started in 2014. The lies and canards spread by some journalists have been rejected by the voters. The single message of the opposition “Modi Hatao” was rejected. The Congress’ promise of doing away with the legislation for sedition was not accepted. The claim of saffron terror was rejected. The claim of opposition leaders that national institutions have been compromised was strongly rejected. The so-called threat to democracy was rebuffed.
On the other hand, Mr Modi’s statement of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas” was trusted, believed and embraced.
What is clear from these elections is that the average Indian voter is primarily interested in getting:
- A clean administration. We have been angered and frustrated with the incredible amount of corruption that has been seen over the last 70 years in various non-BJP governments.
- Strong economic growth of the country which will lead to wealth creation and job creation.
- A secure environment without constantly having to look for potential threats that could physically harm us and our families. We do not want to keep looking over our shoulders. Nor do we want to keep looking under tables and chairs for unidentified bags.
- A clean environment with all the necessities of life so that we can live normal lives with our families.
Let us explore and examine the reasons why the BJP has swept polls despite so much negativity from opposition leaders against Mr Modi personally.
- Positive Report card: During the last elections in 2014 Mr Modi had promised that he would come back to the electorate in 2019 with his report card. A lot has been written about the significant achievements in the first five-year term. In overall terms, the electorate was satisfied with Mr Modi’s governance and the direction he had set for India. The voters strongly endorsed all the schemes of the government. They have experienced the impact these schemes have made in their lives. They have voted for a continuance of his policies.
- Economy: India is now the sixth largest economy in the world and the second largest in terms of purchasing power parity. Mr Modi has put India on track for quick growth in the next decade. Here is a leader who has not hesitated to take the strongest possible decisions whether they relate to the economy or to make fundamental course corrections such as the bankruptcy code. The impact of these reforms will now be felt more completely in the coming 5 years.
- Clean Government: Mr Modi has clearly established even in the minds of his deterrents that he is squeaky clean. He has made every possible effort to make sure that there is no corruption in his government. There has been no major or minor scam in the past five years. The Rafale deal cut no ice with the voters and Mr Gandhi’s corruption charges against Mr Modi did not work. The more Mr Gandhi abused Mr Modi, the more he pushed voters towards Mr Modi.
- Foreign policy: India now stands tall in the comity of nations. India has managed to develop extremely good relationships with all neighbouring states barring Pakistan. At the same time India has managed to keep strong independent relationships with USA and Russia; Iran and Israel as well as a grudging economic relationship with China. The voter has recognised the growing respect India has at the international level. The impact of these policies can be seen in the increasing respect for the Indian passport.
- Mahagathbandhan: The mahagathbandhan has not worked. Certainly not in the manner that Rahul Gandhi had envisaged with him being crowned as the leader by one and all. None of the constituents of this motley group of regional leaders had any common minimum programme nor did they represent a similar set of values that they presented to the electorate. The warring mahagathbandhan leaders showed their true colours as they kept talking with forked tongues. Criticising and praising their alliance partners in the same breath. The Indian electorate is much smarter than what these political parties would have liked voters believe.
- Rahul Gandhi: Mr Gandhi has lost Amethi to BJP’s Smriti Irani. A loss in Amethi establishes how he has not been able to deliver anything of consequence. Though he would like to believe that his victory in the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh was only on account of him, if one looks at the electoral votes cast in the Lok Sabha elections, the numbers tell a different story. Mr Gandhi did not announce any clear vision or path for India. His Nyay scheme was announced without any thought and his advisor Sam Pitroda did not help him, shooting off his mouth at regular intervals. Priyanka Gandhi managed to split the votes, as she had said, but this happened for the SP-BSP combine.
- Hindi Heartland and Western India: The Hindi heartland and the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat clearly still have their heart with Mr Modi. They had voted out the BJP in three states but in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, voters have gone out and voted in very large numbers for Mr Modi, clearly the tallest leader in the country today. West Bengal and Odisha have also welcomed Mr Modi. Divisive politics was rejected by the voters and this marks a significant change for India in the years ahead.
- Infrastructure: There is visible improvement in India’s infrastructure. From building new roads to airports and from significantly improved power supply to super-fast trains, the path towards improved infrastructure is there for everyone to see. Prior to 2014, we had taken “load shedding” as a part of our daily lives. This has now stopped. The voter believes that much more needs to be done and has given one more term to Mr Modi to complete what he started.
- Support of Millennials: The 80 million new voters who exercised their franchise for the first time in 2019 voted overwhelmingly in favour of Mr Modi. These young Indians have no links to Ayodhya or the Ram Temple but in Mr Modi, these millennials see a leader who can deliver the India of their dreams. They see an overall improvement in their lifestyle, and they can see the visible change in global attitude towards India.
- Tough on Terror: The result of the Pulwama terror attack and the Balakot air strike are there for everyone to see. If the opposition had not criticised the government after the Pulwama attack, they would not have had to grind their nose in the dust after the Balakot air strikes. The voter recognises that only Mr Modi has had the courage to hit back hard and they want a leader who can protect the boundaries of the country.
- Rural Economy: Though the opposition parties would like us to believe otherwise, the figures of the fast-moving consumer goods companies and the automobile companies show a significant improvement in their sales in Rural India. If anything, Mr Modi has focussed his attention on the poor. While the Nyay scheme was a pie in the sky, the direct benefit transfer to farmers made a difference. More needs to be done and Mr Modi will certainly have this on the top of his agenda.
- Dynastic Politics Rejected: The Congress has seen almost no growth since the 2014 election. Congress leaders need to do some serious introspection on whether they should continue to be led be a member of the “family” or whether new blood should be injected to energise the cadres once again. The leaders of the 22 opposition parties who were determined to protect their family-hold on their parties have also been rejected. Will these leaders now start to show their fangs as their differences come out in the open or will they still be able to hold hands on a stage to show how much they love each other!
The opposition leaders will continue to make excuses such as the return of Electoral Authoritarianism, a partisan Election Commission, Negative elections and the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) but they will, in due course, realise that these are excuses to convince themselves. No voter believes any of their excuses. For the opposition leaders, the time for introspection has arrived.
Under the leadership of Mr Modi, the best is yet to come for India.