By Rahul Dixit:
India in 2019 saw debate across political turfs revolving around defeating one man - Narendra Modi. Rag-tag coalitions, devoid of specific strategies, continuously worked up a negative narrative, raised bogeys, and stooped too low to deride a popular Prime Minister. Little did they realise that Modi, the messenger of a strong country, himself was the message that the country was looking for. The Hitavada Assistant Editor Rahul Dixit narrates how the Opposition failed to read the mind and mood of the nation.
NEVER before in India was an election fought on the lone proposition of removing a popular Prime Minister rather than providing an alternative. The country saw this in 2019 when the only pitch across political turfs revolved around defeating one man -- Narendra Modi. Rag-tag coalitions, devoid of specific strategies, continuously worked up a negative narrative, raised bogeys, and stooped too low to deride a Prime Minister. Little did they realise that Modi, the messenger of a strong country, himself was the message that the country was looking for. The massive mandate given by India to Narendra Damodardas Modi is an assertion of a new India that looks beyond politics of caste and religion and puts its faith in a strong and decisive leader.
The times, they are changing! An emerging class is driven by aspiration that is based solidly on national pride and a leader whose belief in nationalism transcends the mundane nitty-gritty of politics. The landslide victory by Bharatiya Janata Party may become the starting point of a new political idea in India where progress and patriotism would become the focal points rather than heavy indulgence in polarised opinions. It was a negative narrative built nationally as well as internationally by a section that lives only in denial mode.
That the BJP decimated this very narrative to sweep across the country, validates the faith more than 50 per cent of voters have in Modi and NDA Government’s plans for country’s future. The handsome victory is endorsement of BJP’s brilliant poll strategy despite the anti-Modi fronts working overtime. The party’s election strategists, under national President Amit Shah, did not fall to the vicious propaganda unleashed by Congress President Rahul Gandhi through the ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ jibe. Instead, they worked on changing perception on the ground The ground reality was totally different from what the Congress and other Opposition parties had anticipated. There was a strong connection with Modi, the assertive leader. People were hungry to repeat a visible and genuine leader. The rhetoric of a scam in Rafale fighter deal was a political cry that did not shake the core belief of the populace who had seen Modi taking India ahead with strong decisions.
Be it Balakot or snubbing Pakistan at international forum, or making China blink first in the Doka La stand-off, India had seen all and also the flippancy of the Opposition parties that doubted even the Indian Army’s surgical strikes. Nationalism played a key issue in swinging of votes in BJP’s favour. The Opposition parties were simply not ready to bring their own brand of patriotism and instead went for caste politics yet again. Raising fears of a radical Hindu majority was a grave mistake by the political liberals. It was never the case despite efforts by Lutyen’s elite who used every local tragedy to paint a picture of India becoming an anti-Muslim country.
Falsity of this shrill rhetoric was nailed by the monumental verdict to the BJP. Simply put, the BJP was brilliant in changing the narrative from negative to one in their favour with smart election engineering. It stitched up alliances with estranged partners like Shiv Sena and JD(U) and meticulously planned a transparent hierarchy from booth to boss. They were able to convince the electorate that the reforms legislated by Modi are for the long-run. There was acceptance of rural distress and jobs paucity too but BJP also emerged as the only hope to tide over these short-term crises. Here lies the success of Modi’s personality.
The humble BJP worker in him keeps a charming connect with the masses. He has built a different trust with the voters. His idea of a progressive India through inclusiveness finds resonance with common man on streets. And, they are the voters who decide fate of Governments, not the keyboard-rattling liberals spread all over the social media. The cyber space is a different world altogether, where wars are fought and reputations are smeared brutally. On the ground resides a different India that aspires for clean surroundings, corruption-free system and receptive leadership. Modi has been successful in delivering them the precise idea. They did not want to let go of such a leader who had absolutely no alternative. The anti-Modi front simply failed to gauge the public mood and faltered at each step despite pledge of coming together to oust BJP.
The very idea of Grand Alliance (Mahagatbandhan) was fractured by Prime Ministerial aspiration of most of the allies, so much so that the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party refused to accommodate Congress in Uttar Pradesh. Neither could Congress join hands with Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi. Mistrust among future allies was not lost on the voters, who rightly kept the Opposition away from power. The biggest success of Modi in the last five years was making the Opposition follow the BJP line. Most parties made a departure from their own ideologies, simply shunned ‘secularism’, and fought hard to prove that they were more Hindu than the BJP. Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra resorted to ‘temple runs’, adopted soft Hindutva and simply lost the plot.
Modi beat the Opposition even at populist measures. The NDA schemes providing gas connections, building toilets, electrification, massive road network, Clean India, Jan Dhan accounts, quota for economically backward sections, huge relief to middle-class in taxes, income support to small and marginal farmers were silent game-changers. All played its part in instilling a feeling of inclusiveness among the masses. And it paid off even in traditional bastions of dynasts where a small loo built by the Government was more important for the voters than the big election-time promises.
The way voters have rejected the Rs 72,000/- dole offered by Congress under the NYAY scheme shows the emergence of a new, confident and aspirational generation that does not want to be patronised by freebies. The story of Modi’s rise and rise from 2014 to 2024 is not just based on the abject failure of Congress and the Opposition parties but it is also the firm establishment of a self-made man who detests elitism and entitlement. Majority of India relates with this Modi who is their messenger as well as the message. The success of the messenger to become the message comes from certain intrinsicness that the people have found very endearing. For, it symbolises the very ancient and very Indian idea of a complete person.