Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be ruling India for five years more. At least. This victory will be analysed from multiple angles, not only in the days to come, but for years. But here are five reasons that can be easily identified right away for Mr. Modi’s spectacular second victory.
The emotive factor
Mr. Modi’s personality was the overarching theme of the winning campaign and in him was personified strident Hindutva nationalism. The terror attack in Pulwama in February and India’s response to it — which was botched up as it is now clear — was cleverly used to mobilise passions that were visible for anyone who cared to observe and take note of. “ Ghar mein ghus ke marenge ,” became a war cry that worked.
National security narrative
This newly added national security narrative enhanced further the consolidation of a Hindu vote bank, that makes caste calculations irrelevant. This phenomenon was evident in 2014 also but far from any weakening, it expanded. The places where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) scored big in 2014 broadly remained with it, while the party made inroads into newer areas, significantly in West Bengal.
No discussion on government
There has been no discussion on the last five years in government — both the above factors led to a situation where the Mr. Modi could successfully sidestep any debate on the last five years of his government’s performance. A largely pliable media helped Mr. Modi in this. Discussions on the performance of Mr. Modi’s last five years were limited to welfare schemes, which helped him. Controversial topics such as demonetisation, economic growth and job creations did not find space in public discussions.
Congress robocall campaign
Congress, the principal Opposition party, tried to mount a campaign, but it was no better than those pestering robocalls that come into your phone at the worst possible times. From trying to place the party as an upper caste bastion — “Rahul Gandhi is a janyu dhari Hindu,” its communications head had declared — to repeating the same slogans without creatively re-framing them on a daily basis as Mr. Modi did, the party failed to communicate with the public. The NYAY (Nyuntam Aay Yojana) campaign that the party did, which cost it a fortune from its scarce resources, hardly had any resonance on the ground. The structural deficiencies of the Congress were amplified many times over by its disastrous communication strategy. Over-dependence on assistants — the bane of all liberal politicians around the world — ensured that Rahul Gandhi did not develop an intuitive sense of the political ambience.
The alliances that weren’t
While it is tempting to blame the Congress for the absence of a broader anti-BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) national coalition, the story is a little more complex than that. While regional parties are generally averse to the Congress, attempts by party chief Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi to forge an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) were spurned by its chief Mayawati. Congress — on Mr. Gandhi’s directions — bent over backwards to make an alliance with Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi, but the latter cunningly avoided it. The AAP now blames the Congress, with an eye on the Delhi Assembly election later this year. The Samajwadi Party (SP)-BSP alliance’s performance in Uttar Pradesh now shows that it did not work to the extent that it was initially expected to.
All these factors contributed to Mr. Modi winning a second term, but what mattered the most was the first, in the absence of which, nothing else would have fallen in place for him and the party.