The 2019 General Elections have returned Narendra Modi with a thumping majority. It was a remarkable set of elections that will be talked about for long. In all probability, this is going to be Modi’s last elections as he has a self-imposed restriction on candidates of more than 75 years of age. He will be more than 75 and hence ineligible to contest by the time the next elections appear on the horizon in 2024.
The fight for these elections was bitter, fierce and frightful. Rahul Gandhi, the president of the Indian National Congress tried his best to “shatter” Modi’s image of being incorruptible but that did not bring any dividend to him. Congressmen later thoughtfully confessed that the negative campaigning against Modi was perhaps overkill and had eventually started sounding repulsive. “Chowkidar chor hai” (Chowkidar is a thief), a jibe at Modi coined by Rahul, was used to its limits of saturation and yet Modi and his alliance fetched record number of votes. There was not a single election meeting or a rally where Modi was not abused and branded as corrupt and helpful to his cronies. Modi largely returned the compliments by citing the corrupt regimes of UPAs I and II wherein practically every alliance partner made fortunes at the cost of the public exchequer. But amidst all these allegations and counter allegations Modi never accused the former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh of corruption – not during the election campaigns. He had, however, once mentioned in the Parliament Dr. Singh’s capability to remain dry without a raincoat when all around him there were showers of corruption. That is when the Congress members walked out in protest.
The stunning victory against the Congress President Rahul Gandhi in what is known as the “Gandhi Pocket borough” was another outstanding feature of these elections. Smriti Irani, who had lost to him at the 2014 Elections got the upper hand this time getting a handsome win against the Gandhi scion. As it was a VIP constituency the officials at the counting booth were extra cautious and the results were announced only late in the evening. But before that Rahul Gandhi at his press briefing conceded defeat to Smriti and there was a rumour that he would announce his resignation from the high Party post. That, however, did not happen; He submitted his resignation to the Congress Working Committee. Though the resignation was rejected by none other than Sonia Gandhi yet he has not withdrawn it. The reverberations of the resignation were yet to die down at the time of writing.
Quite clearly the defeat at Amethi made Rahul Gandhi ashamed of himself. He, therefore, resigned and has so far stood his ground refusing to withdraw his resignation. Sycophants, who sustained him and the Gandhi family, however, are deeply reluctant to let him go. Possibly in the absence of a Gandhi from the top position in the Party they would lose all their clout and influence over the lesser party men. Nonetheless, it must be said in favour of Pappu, as Rahul is endearingly and sometimes scornfully called by the media, that he has not budged from the position he has taken. More importantly he has raised a very valid question as to why a Gandhi family member should always be occupying the top position of the Congress Party with sycophants taking no responsibility apart from fanning the ego of whoever from amongst the Gandhis was occupying the top party post.
Be that as it may, the fact, however, is that 2019 Parliamentary elections have caused a severe tectonic disturbance in the Grand Old Party of India like of which it had never witnessed earlier. Even if it comes out of it somewhat unscathed, it would certainly not be its self-confident self. That appears to be a correct assessment as the Party has since announced that it will boycott all TV debates. Nonetheless, for all that, it may present itself in the future only as sycophants – the boot-lickers and self-serving politicians – might like to project it. One cannot but recall the way Sitaram Kesri, the last non-Gandhi president of the party, was deprived of support by the Sonia Gandhi supporters and was stripped of the trappings of powers of Congress President yielding a well-laid path for the latter to be elected to the post.
The loss of Jyotiraditya Scindia from the traditional Scindia seat of Guna in Madhya Pradesh was also an extraordinary feature of these elections. The defeat was a first one for a Scindia. Neither his father, Late Madhavrao nor his grandmother, Late Smt. Vijayaraje Sindia ever lost any parliamentary election. In fact, Jyotiraditya’s loss was only one of 24 losses from Madhya Pradesh which returned only one Congressman, the chief minister’s son, from Chhindwara. Likewise in Rajasthan all the 28 parliamentary seats were lost by Congress to BJP. Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are two states which only around six months ago formed Congress governments beating BJP at the Assembly elections. These losses have attracted Rahul’s ire who has accused the two chief ministers of concentrating on their respective sons’ elections sacrificing the interests of the Party. He forgets that he being a Gandhi scion used up far greater amount of Congress resources of men, material and party’s finances and yet lost the elections from a seat that returned one or the other Gandhi year after year.
Two other extraordinary feats of the relentless BJP campaign were registering wins in a substantial share of West Bengal’s Parliamentary seats. Winning 22 of the 42 seats Trinamool Congress of Mamata Banerji did not do too well whereas BJP with 18 seat was at her heels doing exceptionally well. From the figure of 1 in 2014 to go to 18 in 2019 was very creditable. Likewise winning 25 out of 28 Kanataka Parliamentary seats is certainly a result of a massive effort. Karnataka is the only state in the South where BJP has enough space for maneuvering a collapse of the alliance partners of Janata Dal (Secular) and Congress.
What had looked like initially as a feeble Modi wave it later assumed sinister proportions swamping and drowning all that came in its way. The map of India kept changing as the results came along and the colour that was eventually predominant was BJPs saffron. Modi had been claiming from before the polls that this time people had decided against a fractured mandate and wanted to equip him with enough muscle to enable him to complete the business that has remained unfinished. One does not know from where and how did he get such inkling but the truth of the matter is that it proved to be prophetic. The slogan of “abki baar, teen sau ke paar” (this time around, beyond three hundred) was spot on.