It’s a turning point in India’s political history. The sense of entitlement has made way for hard work and talent.
The Modi Government was sworn in first on May 26, 2014, and so technically, nine years over. However, the BJP and the centre will celebrate the completion of nine years in office on May 30, and a month-long outreach will be launched as in 2019 for the second term, PM Modi and his council of ministers were sworn in on May 30.
It was a period of ‘Great Expectations’…. “Sundar thi mein woh pathik, meri sundarta nikhar gayi…(I was beautiful oh stranger, my beauty also stunned one and all).
There are many tales, milestones and anecdotes of achievements. The country braved through century’s worst health and socio-economic crises in 2020 and 2021, and the Prime Minister gave slogans like ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ and punctuated it with elements of Viswas (faith) and Prayas (concerted efforts with a unity of purpose).
PM Modi and BJP have only used multiple challenges to reinforce his political position and offer himself to the people as a strong Hindu nationalist leader in a country with about one billion Hindus in a population of 1.35 billion.
The ruling BJP and the Union Government’s Ministers are hyperactive in claiming a positive performance for the Government. And what suits the official gambit is that there is still no big challenge to PM Modi at the national level from Opposition parties.
The period of 9 years created an unprecedented atmosphere of religious nationalism — and something that might have unnerved some forces both within India and outside, but united the nation. The country also seems determined to fight corruption and the easy flow of black money. This was readily amplified in RBI’s recent moves to withdraw Rs 2000 currency notes, and even many from PM’s rival quarters have backed the decision.
On the other side, the opponents banked on a select school of media and even overseas fourth estate. The toxic phrases and one-liners flowed in.
While PM Modi’s detractors would like to describe him as a politician who “has failed to deliver” (Time magazine in 2019), his admirers and common people still believe him to be a messiah, a miracle man. ‘Modi hae toh mumkin hae’. To many, he is still the best political bet for the BJP, and his Government represents aspirations and myriad dreams.
Since May 2019, when Narendra Modi returned to power for the second time, the Karnataka poll outcome was only the second victory for Rahul Gandhi and the Congress. The first was Himachal Pradesh in December 2022. Even Congress leaders have admitted that in both Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka, the Congress victories were largely attributed to local factors. So where is the Rahul Gandhi angle to take on Modi?
“The BJP could win 15 assembly polls out of 25 since 2019,” says party National vice president M Chuba Ao and goes on to exude confidence that in 2024, the saffron party will increase the tally from its 2019 poll tally of 303.
If the first five years of the Modi Government catered to issues like Swachh Abhiyan, Jan Dhan, constructing toilets and Beti Bachao programmes, between 2019 and 2023, the Prime Minister laid emphasis on ideological moorings.
Hence the Citizenship Amendment Act, Article 370, construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya based on the Supreme Court’s verdict and even strengthening the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), which gave teeth to agencies to designate an individual as a terrorist and impound properties got priorities.
In 2019, Amit Shah, then BJP National president and now Home Minister, said if the party returned to power in 2019, it would be in power for the next 50 years.
Some interpreted these as threats, while BJP leaders said such statements only reflected confidence in the party’s leadership.The 2019 elections in India also marks a significant drop in communist influence, mainly in the form of ideology.
Besides Congress, the Modi regime in the last years has hit caste-based parties BSP and Samajwadi Party. The communists lost miserably in their so-called bastions in Kerala and West Bengal. Left parties did not win any of the 42 seats in West Bengal, where they ruled for 34 years until 2011. Although communists continued to run the State Government in Kerala, their influence in national polity nearly ended.
Several Opposition parties, including Trinamool Congress and Congress, are now often accused of being anti-Hindu. That resulted in Congress and other Opposition leaders visiting temples to put on a show for the media.
In September 2016 and February 2019, PM Modi hardened his stance against arch-rival Pakistan when the countries’ two militaries traded blows over Kashmir.
The election results have likewise been seen as an approval of Modi’s muscular brand of nationalism. There was a right synthesis along with the developmental agenda and the spirit of Hindutva values.
Speaking about elections and achievements, Delhi BJP president Virendra Sachdeva said that his party won because “people admired our sincerity and the last-man-delivery.
“People were content with what they got–the gas cylinders, rural houses and toilets,” Sachdeva says.
In the end, Indian political history is now at a turning point. The decimation of Congress suggests the total collapse of the old political system that had thrived, banking on the appeasement of minorities and encouraged corruption and a sense of entitlement.
PM Modi has also shown how he abhors Nehruvian politics and what the BJP calls the dynasty rule Nehru family. Nehru, his daughter Indira Gandhi and her son Rajiv Gandhi together headed the Government in New Delhi for 37 years.
There is an unleashing of ‘new politics’, and the forces will perhaps have to toe the new line as already articulated by the BJP — a high rate of delivery in good governance.
PM Modi showing his abhorrence to Nehruvian politics has also gone in his favour as, for the first time, younger lots and disgruntled Indians thought the existing system – status quo – was being seriously challenged.