Dharmendra Kumar Singh explains the four major factors that contributed to Modi’s win in the 2014 elections.
Narendra Modi scored a victory over all political parties in the Lok Sabha elections. The results are beyond the expectations of the Bharatiya Janata Party and their sympathisers.
There are several factors which contributed to the BJP's unprecedented win. The non-performance of the United Progressive Alliance being the most important. Added to that was widespread corruption, price rise, weak economy etc. There are some other factors which contributed to the almost impossible political victory.
My hypothesis is that four quakes contributed to the phenomenon of Narendra Modi being created during the last decade. These are natural, communal, aspirational and caste-class quakes. These quakes broke the barriers of all the myths.
When Modi became very active in Gujarat politics via Delhi, the political situation was very unstable. At one point in time Gujarat Chief Minster Keshubhai Patel was replaced by Narendra Modi. That was October 2001. The state suffered a devastating earthquake and more than 20,000 people were killed. There was a very big loss of property as well. Barely four months later 59 devotes returning from Ayodhya after performing kar seva, were burnt to death on the Sabarmati Express train at Godhra station in Gujarat. It was claimed that people of a certain community committed the crime. Following the incident, riots broke out in the state in which more than 1,000 people including 790 Muslims were killed.
Modi was blamed by many people all over the world. It was believed that the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was upset at the handling of 2002 riots and even told Modi to adhere to his Raj Dharma. The Gujarat riots are subject of international discussion ever since. It is believed that this was a communal earthquake, which created some impression in the minds of the hardcore Hindus that only Modi can teach the lesson to Muslims.
In many parts of India there are many people who believe that Muslims do not care about India like the Hindus. The Gujarat riots were a turning point for Modi and he was widely talked to be a hero in the minds of communal discourse. Some people tried to present him as the hero of Hindu religion.
The RSS and BJP cadres felt strongly about Modi as a Hindu leader. It was thought to be an opportunity by the BJP. Although the Supreme Court-appointed SIT had given him a clean chit in the post-Godhra Gulbarg massacre case and sought its closure as it found no evidence against him, he remained a hero. In the aftermath of the violence in some areas of Gujarat, there were widespread calls for Modi to resign. He did not.
Modi's emphasis shifted from Hindutva to economic development during the campaign for the 2007 assembly elections in Gujarat. Narendra Modi took the path of development and good governance and he won a third time in a row which forced the central leadership to designate him as the PM candidate of the BJP. RSS supported him to the hilt. Their cadres never ever have worked as tirelessly for others. The focus of the RSS campaign was very specific. It had two points, one to reach out to the people and inform them about the challenges the country is facing today and the need for a change in government to overcome them and the other to encourage more people to come out and vote on the polling day.
It is a common knowledge now that the Congress lost the 2014 elections because it was seen as a party which headed a corruption and scam infested regime. The corruption scandals like Commonwealth games, 2G scam and coalgate etc. contributed in a big way to the argument of the Congress being a very corrupt party. At the same time an anti-corruption crusader, like Anna Hazare started the movement to demand Jan Lokpal bill to curb corruption in public life. His movement ran exclusively against corruption to draw the attention of nation against central government’s attitude towards this malaise.
Before the parliamentary elections of 2014, there were assembly elections in five states. The Congress lost the assembly elections in all four states Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattishgarh and Delhi in December, 2013. While the country believed that there was a strong Modi wave the country, the truth is it was neither Modi nor Kejriwal, but the combination of both was doing the magic. It seemed Kejriwal’s surge was complimentary for the BJP to create a wave against the Congress but Kejriwal failed to understand the game and started to attack Modi.
The fourth quake is the anti-incumbency, coupled with voter fatigue after 10 years of UPA rule resulted in Modi victory. The scenario would have been different had Modi not been in the race for the post of prime minister in this election. It is tradition that the country always likes decisive and strong leader, and Modi carries that image. Compared to Modi, Rahul Gandhi did not prove a match. The weak leadership of Rahul Gandhi affected the Congress’s performance. The outcome of this election may be described the BJP led alliance’s sweeping victory as forceful mandate for clear and decisive leadership besides a vote for development.
After the 1984 elections, the age of alliance politics for governance had begun. The number of parties in the alliance was a very important talking point during and before the elections. Although many parties of the NDA had deserted the alliance after the 2004 defeat the NDA added biggest number of parties before the 2014 elections. Some of them could not win even a single seat but the BJP lead an NDA which had 29 political parties.
Another important factor which contributed to the BJP win was the new caste arithmetic. The BJP was earlier considered as forward and business class party but Mandal and Kamandal politics in 1990 forced party to open the door for OBC castes also. That was the reason the BJP either accommodated, promoted the OBC leaders in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharastra and also stitched the alliance with OBC leaders to strengthen the base where party was weak.
The so called messiahs of the Mandal movement had limited vision to expand the base except the Yadavs in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Yadav have done nothing except making alliance with Muslim-Yadav to remain in power.
Both indulged in the promotion of their families in politics. The people of their castes who were supporting them thought that these Yadav leaders were making fool of other leaders of their own castes. And when Modi also played the caste politics by introducing himself as a chaiwala and somebody who belonged to the lower castes to woo the OBC voters, he was believed by the OBC communities.
This is one of the reasons Narendra Modi overcame the caste axis to get votes cutting across caste lines in much of north India particularly in the key states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar where party bagged 104 seats out of 120 seats. Not only OBC vote the BJP got Dalit votes also.
The BJP entered into alliance with Lok Jansakti Party leader Ram Vilas Paswan in Bihar. Another fact is that a section of the Dalit voters were fed up of autocratic style of functioning of Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh. It would seem that after two and a half decades tussle ‘Kamandal ‘ worsted Mandal across the Hindi heartland.
The BJP’s clever mix of a message that contained development with its Hindu subtext spread by its OBC mascot Modi successfully overcame Uttar Pradesh and Bihar’s caste politics. As a result, the BJP has completely decimated caste based parties in the states of UP and Bihar. My hypothesis, this might have not happened had Modi as an OBC leader was not in the race for the post of prime minister.
Another factor is that the aspirational voters who do not believe in caste, class, creed and communal politics in India as their aspiration has been increasing daily. They want better jobs, better roads, better quality of life supported by regular supply of electricity etc. They are fed up with price rise and bad economic growth.
Aspirational voters were impatient, unforgiving and confused due to misrule of 10 years of UPA government. Apart from these there are many reasons like Modi’s Gujarat development model, the high-voltage campaign covering 437 rallies by Modi also using social media, TV, radio and print media advertisements.
The expectations from the Modi government are very high and hopefully the Modi-led government will make a strong effort to match the expectations of the people who believed him and decided to support him.
Dharmendra Kumar Singh is a political and election analyst.