THE third straight victory with a comfortable majority for Narendra Modi’s Chief Ministership and the fifth consecutive win for the BJP in Gujarat is commendable. The fact that the BJP increased its vote percentage, after a section of the party broke away on caste considerations, adds feathers to the victory crown.
But the media would not hand the victory over to him. Almost all the news anchors and the political analysts from Delhi and elsewhere, kept repeating right from the beginning, how Modi had ‘lost.’ It was the media which had done an exit poll which gave Modi the huge numbers. So they hyped the results before counting started. And when the actual results came, they compared their own predictions with the result and declared him a loser. It is interesting that Modi, who so regularly twits and is in constant touch with voters in Gujarat and supporters worldwide never ever once made a guess on the number of seats he was hoping. He avoided the media like the plague, probably because he understands how ill-disposed they are towards him. Even when the BJP victory became a certainty, with the party crossing the 100 mark, one senior political writer asked a BJP representative if she was feeling let down by the result. The BJP spokesperson was aghast at the question. What kind of an interpretation is this, she asked. Because, you were hoping for much more, was his reply. By the same logic, all electoral victories are losses for the winner because everyone always hopes for more!
The point is this: Modi was fighting a Congress which had outsourced its campaign and battle to various agencies. These included the media, which received a huge bulk of Congress ads and none from the BJP, the breakaway section of the BJP under Keshubhai Patel and the sundry NGOs and TV-visible analysts. In several constituencies where the GPP had put up candidates, the Congress had an ‘understanding’ either putting up no candidate or fielding one for name’s sake. Shweta Bhatt, wife of IPS officer Sajeev Bhatt was supported by all forces against Modi and he won resoundingly. The turnout of large number of women voters in Maninagar even emboldened the Congress to hope for a victory for Shweta Bhatt. They all turned out to be BJP supporters.
The reality is also that the BJP has widened its base at the grass root level. The number of youth, first time voters participated in the elections, in a record 71 per cent polling. Modi, it may be remembered, had been pushing for making voting compulsory and has been constantly urging in his speeches and twits for voting. Modi was confident but nor complacent about his track record. He campaigned tirelessly addressing on an average 19 rallies a day. He stayed clear of caste, communal propaganda, speaking always of the six crore Gujarat population. He ran a clean campaign not launching any personal vituperative attack on individuals.
The Congress on the other hand was bereft of leadership, with its ad campaigns run by a starlet. None of the state or central leadership took the lead in the party’s strategies. While the whole world was praising the visible signs of development and improvement in Gujarat, Congress chose to attack that very aspect. Both Sonia and Rahul Gandhi in their speeches spoke about the central funds as though it came from their Italian household. Sonia Gandhi even went to the extent of complaining that the money was “theirs” while the chief minister was putting his photo on the schemes. Her son Rahul Gandhi too spoke about in first person what was given to the state government as part of the routine central aid given to all state governments.
|For analysis, these could be called some of the undoing of the Congress. But the Gujarat result is a positive vote for good governance, for putting people and state before the self and the party. It is a mantra for success of any political party in India. It is not cash transfers and gas cylinders but the real connect the leaders have with the people of the state. The media too (especially in Delhi) must be feeling chastened now. For, Modi won the elections despite them.