Suspense is over and though the counting of votes by the Election Commission was still in progress at the time of writing, it is clear that Narendra Modi will take oath as the prime minister for the second time in a row.
The BJP has won a full majority with a bigger mandate in the Lok Sabha election compared to 2014 polls. Riding on a strong Modi wave in 2014, the BJP had won 282 seats in the Lok Sabha. The party has bettered its figures in 2019 and is set to have around 300 MPs in the Lok Sabha.
The NDA is likely to win over 340 seats in the Lok Sabha despite the AIADMK performing very badly in Tamil Nadu. The AIADMK had won all 39 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu five years ago. This time, the BJP allied with the AIADMK and the alliance is likely to win only three Lok Sabha seats.
The election results indicate that the Modi wave has not died down in the country. Here are the five reasons which contributed to keep PM Modi’s popularity among the voters.
Toilet and LPG
Soon after taking oath in 2014, PM Modi spoke about sanitation being his government’s priority. He stated that the lack of cleanliness is the biggest cause of diseases and the biggest threat to health. He, it seems, succeeded in conveying his message that cleanliness is akin to saving money.
He launched a campaign for a toilet in each household and promoted it as a way to keep the environment clean and diseases away. The Modi government claims to have built more than 9 crore toilets for the poor of the country.
Another scheme that got BJP connected to the voters is the LPG scheme. PM Modi launched Ujjawala scheme providing free LPG connection to the families having no access to cooking gas. The Modi government claimed to have distributed more than 7 crores LPG connections to the poor households and publicised it as a step towards empowerment of women.
These two schemes have, as per Modi government’s claim, more than 16 crore beneficiary households. Many of the beneficiaries were in counted in both the categories. Still, it is estimated to have benefited directly or indirectly more than 25 crores of India’s 90 crore voters.
The prevailing sentiments among the voters, as reports suggest, was that Modi is the first prime minister who thought about us and our self-respect in daily lives.
Till the afternoon of February 14 this year, the Rafale deal, 45-year-high unemployment rate and farm distress were the talking points that appeared to build election narrative. The Opposition led by Congress president Rahul Gandhi looked set to pose a tough challenge to PM Modi’s strategy in the Lok Sabha election.
Around 3.15 on that afternoon, Pakistan-based terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad targeted a convoy of the CRPF killing 40 jawans on the Jammu-Srinagar highway. The terror group owned the responsibility and preliminary investigation indicated cross-border links to the killing of soldiers on duty.
Twelve days later, the Indian Air Force carried out an air strike deep across the Line of Control in Pakistan’s Balakot. The IAF’s target was a terror training centre of the Jaish-e-Mohammad.
An aerial dogfight followed the next day, that is, February 27 when Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman shot down a Pakistan Air Force’s F-16 fighter jet. His aircraft was also shot down and he exited on the land controlled by Pakistan Army.
Backchannel diplomacy by Modi government ensured that Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan announced in the country’s parliament the decision to return IAF pilot Abhinandan as goodwill gesture.
The Modi government claimed it as a victory of its strong muscular policy towards Pakistan. PM Modi referred to the entire episode in his election rallies and exhorted the young voters to vote for the security of the country. The Opposition’s attempt to question the government over Balakot air strike worked in favour of the Modi government, which built on its nationalistic narrative and connected it with the pride of the Indian nation.
Booth level workers
Once the BJP shifted the narrative of the Lok Sabha election, the BJP’s organisational strength came to work. The BJP leadership has invested a lot in building human resources in the past five years.
Its membership campaign, despite courting controversies, provided it with a strong base of a large number of committed workers across the country. The party has won more elections than any of its rivals since 2014 primarily on the back of its committed cadres. In this election, every appeal by PM Modi to the votes in his public speeches were widely circulated and made viral by the BJP cadres.
The BJP formed small teams of four to five workers in areas covered by every single booth in all the Lok Sabha constituencies. This last mile connectivity of the BJP was a big advantage for the Modi government in the Lok Sabha election.
Rise of Hindutva contributed to BJP’s victory in 2014 but many political pundits believed it to be a one-time-phenomenon connected to the image of Narendra Modi. However, the party’s victories in states like Tripura, Assam, Maharashtra, Haryana and other places indicated a far bigger constituency of the right-wing voters than estimated earlier.
The BJP has made “appeasement of Muslims by the Congress” one of its poll planks since it was founded in 1980. The controversies relating to cow vigilantism, beef row, Durga Puja-Muharram row in Bengal and similar issues helped the rise of Hindutva despite PM Modi criticising those assaulting persons from the minority community, particularly Muslims.
More than 45,000 shakhas (branches) of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) too furthered the rise of a new wave of right-wing supporters.
Since the beginning of the election campaign, the BJP raised Modi versus who question to the Congress and elusive third front. The Congress or other Opposition parties failed to project a leader as their prime ministerial candidate.
On the other hand, the BJP remodelled Brand Modi from a development-oriented leader from Gujarat to a leader of international stature. The BJP leaders repeated stated that India’s international standing has risen since PM Modi took over in 2014.
PM Modi himself, while commenting on the economy, said India was a member of fragile five before his government took over while under his leadership, the country has reached to new heights in all spheres of governance and diplomacy. The Opposition’s criticism failed to discredit PM Modi in the wake of the claims made by the government.
Moreover, PM Modi led all the surveys primarily based on TINA there is no alternative factor. The Opposition failed to set a counter-narrative and was often seen doing politics on the agenda dictated by the BJP in the last five years and also during the campaign for the Lok Sabha election – AGENCY.