By Amer Arafath

The 17th Lok Sabha General Elections were held in seven phases from 11th April to 19th May 2019 across India in which about 900 million Indian citizens exercised their franchise with a turnout of over 67 per cent – the record craving in the history of Indian general elections. The outcome was pronounced on 23rd May 2019.

Mandate

The Bharatiya Janata Party alone made an impressive mark with 303 seats and the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) emerged very strong with 353 seats in its kitty. The largest opposition party, Congress once again failed to attain 10% of the total number of seats in the parliament to get the Official Opposition Party status and settled down for a meagre 52 seats while the Congress-led alliance trounced at 92. The Other parties drubbed at 97 seats.

Analysis - Reasons for the Modi’s Era 2.0

1. Chaiwala Vs Dynasty Politics

The political discourse of 2019 election was dominated by the Modi and Rahul Gandhi duo. The public gave a thumping majority to the person who has rose to the rank of Prime Minister from the average family rather than dynasty dominated person belonging to Gandhi family. There was a soft corner in the hearts of voters for Modi as they termed him as their charismatic leader who can appeal to masses with his rhetorics

2. Brand image of Modi

The Modi image was surged like a kinetic force post Balakot strikes after Pulwama catastrophe bringing a new wave of hyper nationalism in the air. The arrival of Wing Commander Abhinandan back to home added further mileage to it. Indians were looking for a leader since decades who could give tit-for-tat answer to its neighbor enemy nation – Pakistan and Modi easily grabbed this opportunity and lived upto the expectations. Moreover, In 2016, surgical strikes along the LoC and across the Myanmar border sent out his mighty image for bold leadership

3. Economic Policies of Modi

The populist policies like Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi, Make in India, Swachh Bharat, Jan Dhan Yojana, etc., lived upto the expectations of people and these were also the driving forces behind his victory. He continued to win the hearts of upper caste people by passing 10% reservation bill for the Economically Weaker Sections. India’s Ease of Doing Business improved very much in Modi’s tenure. He projected Start Up India for entrepreneurs and Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana for MSMEs which constituted his large chunk of vote bank

4. Foreign Policy

His foreign policy is often referred as ‘Modi Doctrine’ which improved relations with South East nations, USA and other major multilateral groupings like BRICS, SCO, East Asia Summit, G-20, APEC and SAARC. He is a pioneer of ‘Act East Policy’ which focused on enhancing ASEAN relationship with India on economic front. His ‘Neighborhood First Policy Caught everyone attention when he dedicated a communication satellite – (GSAT-9) to the SAARC group. He drafted ‘Indian Ocean Outreach policy’ to counter China’s growing influence in the Indian Ocean as a part of Maritime Silk Road Project. His rapid decisions helped in the evacuation of lakhs of Indian diaspora who were struck in conflict-torn countries like Libya, Iraq, Yemen (Operation Raahat - 2015) and Sudan (Operation Sankat Mochan - 2016)

5. Awards & Recognition

a) Modi was named as Person of the year in Time magazine for the years 2014 and 2016

b) He was featured as 9th-Most-Powerful Person in the World in 2015, 2016 and 2018 by Forbes Magazine

c) Modi was ranked fifth on Fortune Magazine's first annual list of the "World's Greatest Leaders" in 2015

d) In 2018, he was the third most followed leader on Twitter and the most followed world leader on Facebook and Instagram

e) He received UN's highest environmental award - The 'Champions of the Earth'

f) He won 2018 Seoul Peace Prize

g) He was honored with highest awards of Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Palestine, UAE & Russia

Failure of Opposition

a) The opposition failed to take forward the post consequences of Demonetization blunder and GST, which Rahul Gandhi termed as Gabbar Singh Tax

b) The unemployment rise is at 8.1%, 45 year high yet the Congress and other parties could not bank on this point in garnering votes

c) The catchphrase ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ coined by Rahul Gandhi after Rafale deal controversy didn’t fired well, and in return the entire BJP cadre changed their twitter handles by prefixing ‘Chowkidar’ to their names

d) Rahul Gandhi’s NYAY (Nyuntam Aay Yojana or the Minimum Income Guarantee scheme) could not woo the voters

e) The failure of Congress can be easily witnessed as it struggle to stitch alliances under Rahul Gandhi with other political parties like BSP-SP in Uttar Pradesh and Sharad Pawar led NCP in Maharashtra

f) The Congress failed to win a single seat in a big state like Rajasthan due to tussle between Sachin Pilot and Ashok Gehlot for the chief ministership which eventually split the state Congress into two camps

g) The Congress unable to draw international support for mob lynchings against minorities in general and Muslims in particular

h) The National Register of Citizens (NRC) consolidated the Hindu votes in North-East against illegal immigrants belonging to Minorities and Congress failed to expose the BJP in this regard

The BJP alone got 37.4% vote share while NDA got 45% vote share in the recently concluded Parliament elections and this constitutes the highest vote share since 1980 parliamentary elections. The Congress failed to patch an alliance in Uttar Pradesh with BSP-SP duo which lead to its debacle. The entry of female Gandhi Scion - The Priyanka Vadra as General Secretary, AICC (Eastern UP) didn't seems to impress the voters in favour of the grand old party. The defeat of Congress President, Rahul Gandhi from Amethi constituency was staggering who lost his family seat by 55,000 votes. This seat was held by Congress since 1980s (exception in the year 1998-99). Smriti Irani made Rahul crumbled and she has done what Maneka Gandhi couldn't 35 years down the history when she contested again Rajiv Gandhi in 1980s after severing ties with Indira Gandhi back then.

In Odisha, Biju Janata Dal supremo and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has won a comfortable fifth consecutive term. In Sikkim, Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) wrestled down Pawan Kumar Chamling, the longest serving CM of India since 1994. The BJP clinched the Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly and Pema Khandu is back for the second term as Chief Minister. The outstanding victory of the YSR Congress Party in Andhra Pradesh created the history as it bagged 151 out of 175 seats. Chandrababu Naidu faced a humiliating defeat as Yellow party restricted to a paltry number of 23 seats. The public of AP shifted its choice in favor of YSRCP because Naidu failed to get 'Special Category' status to the state.

The voters made a big U-turn and gave back a huge mandate to BJP in Parliamentary elections conducted in the states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh where they chose congress for Assembly elections just some months ago. In Maharashtra, the alliance between two right-wing parties BJP & Shiv Sena played a spoilsport for Congress and NCP as the former duo got 41 out of 48 seats while the NCP and Congress retained four and one seats respectively. The prolific candidates like Milind Deora lost Mumbai (South) while Priya Dutt lost from Mumbai (North Central). The Maharashtra's first non-Congress Muslim MP is Imtiaz Jaleel from AIMIM. The VBA-MIM alliance contested on eight parliamentary seats but they managed to get only one seat - Aurangabad. In rest of the seats, it was seen as voter cutter of Congress, thereby BJP gaining much of its mileage. The BJP made its stalwart presence in the southern states like Karnataka and Telangana where they won 26 and 4 seats respectively. The BJP got a phenomenal success in Bengal as it bagged 18 seats because it created anti-muslim wave in the form of 'illegal immigrants' from Bangladesh.

Telangana

The rise of BJP in Telangana came as a big surprise where it increased its tally from one seat in 2014 to 4 seats (Secunderabad, Adilabad, Karimnagar & Nizamabad) in 2019. The Nizamabad MP seat which was represented by the K. Kavitha, daughter of KCR, Chief Minister of Telangana was given a mammoth defeat (more than 70,000 majority) by Dharmapuri Arvind as she failed to win the hearts of people and there was an anti-incumbency factor against her by the turmeric farmers and unemployed youth. The Karimnagar MP seat was won by Bandi Sanjay Kumar who straightaway crushed down TRS heavyweight B. Vinod Kumar by more than 90,000 votes. Bandi Sanjay, who got around 68000 votes in Assembly elections conducted in the month of December 2018 lost to the then incumbent MLA Gangula Kamalakar. Meanwhile, he garnered massive support among the youth and scripted history by easily securing around 4,98,000 votes in just 4 months. His win again rose the saffron flag in Karimnagar after 15 years. The Secunderabad LS seat was won by the veteran leader of BJP, Kishan reddy by almost 62,000 votes who also lost the recently conducted assembly elections in the month of December 2018 from the Amberpet constituency. The Adilabad LS seat was also a quite whammy as Soya Bapu Rao emerged winner with about 60,000 votes. The Congress also increased its tally to 3 seats - Uttam Kumar Reddy from Nalgonda, Komatireddy Venkat Reddy from Bhuvanagiri and Revanth Reddy from Malkajgiri. AIMIM retain its seat from Hyderabad with about 2.80 lakh votes as people chose Asaduddin Owaisi for the fourth consecutive term. The local party, TRS received a blow thereby reducing to just 9 seats and those too cleared the line in a neck to neck battle with BJP & Congress.

We further wish to see India on the path of constitutionalism along with the cherished values of liberty, equality and fraternity which are enshrined in the Preamble without compromising the three organs of the government - The Legislative, Executive and Judiciary during the Modi's 2.0 era. We also hope that Peace exist throughout the country and he should focus more on multiple reforms (Infrastructure, agrarian, unemployment, manufacturing, etc) further in this tenure to take India on a very advance development mode along with stupendous economic growth.

The views expressed in the article are personal and those of the author. He can be reached on arfathzworld@gmail.com

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