Modi once again - Reading the Election 2019 result

Ninglun Hanghal *

 Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing an election rally at Langjing Achouba ground :: 25th February 2017
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing an election rally at Langjing Achouba ground on 25th February 2017 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam

The verdict is out. With more than the magic number 272, the BJP led NDA is all set to take on the next five years. Back in 2014, Narendra Modi, after being sworn in as Prime Minister had said that he will give his report card after 10 years. He had than visualized to be the PM for two consecutive terms. And this seems to be right as he is set to become the PM for a second term.

Modi was actually making a promise to his supporters and follower. He had given himself a hard task, then. And it serves him well, as he went on to proof himself- as the undisputable leader – for the party as well as for India.

For his first innings – the 2014 general election - Narendra Modi had really worked hard. His visits to several places before the parliamentary elections were promising as well as sensible. He touches the right chord with people on the ground. His speeches were reverberating. He was popular. Modi was impressive.

He portrays a “strong leader” image that resonate well across the country at a time when India was in dire need of such person – a strong leader. Moreover, he was the right person at the right time- wherein the anti-incumbency and weak Congress came in his favor.

In north-east India the 2014 Modi wave did swept across. This was reflected in all the state assembly elections where NDA took over the mantle. It is and has always been the case in north-east states that the ruling party in the center has always had an upper hand in the state elections.

North-east in general would follow the trend in the center- for obvious reasons. That, it is best to be in alliance or be in the same party with the power in the center. Thus, whoever is in power in the center north-east states will (blindly) follow. Indicating the “powerless-ness of the states”.

Five years later, there has been major hiccups and disruptions, serious ones at that, where Modi and his rule faces huge risks. For one, is the demonetization – that has hit the people hard. The “cow politics” and communal / caste violence were increasing.

In north-east states the issue of “beef eating” became a major counter against the BJP. The latest development being the Citizenship Amendment Bill. The BJP led NDA had in recent years given strength to the regional party such as; Asom Gana Parishad, National People’s Party, Mizo National Front etc.

In 2019 general election, many are of the opinion that the BJP as a lead party in the NDA alliance are unlikely to come back. The result though tells that it is wrong. What worked this time is that the NDA – the BJP workers to be specific, really put in their effort.

In regard to “working hard” the UPA – the Congress to be specific are not – as always – that hard working. Congress party ( appears) are laid back and are so habituated to “power” that their workers- supporters, normally do not put in so much effort like the BJP.

On the other hand, the key figure Modi do not seem to infuse much excitement and his role do not seem to play much in the 2019 victory of the BJP-NDA. His public rallies are not as thundering as it was in 2014.

For the last 2-3 years Modi had been more of an “Image” that appears at some occasions or events. Modi is mostly silent over issues arising in the last five years, leaving most “answers” to his right hand man and his ministers/ MPs to do the talking or bear the burden.

Modi had given interview only to few select electronic media in the last five years. For record, he held only one press conference – where he was a silent observer and left the “answering” to be done by Amit Shah (party president). Over the recent years, Modi seems to be uncomfortable and avoid the media. He also appears to avoid making public statements.

In the run up to 2014 and in his initial year as PM, Modi was excellent in bringing out “catch words” and campaign slogan – such as Chai Pe Charcha and many other campaign that follows such as “Beti Bachhao”. All this though, dies down in the run up to 2019 polls. The only slogan that came up is the “Chowkidar”. But this time slogan does not seem to take much central role in the BJP-NDA come back.

What is obvious is that Hindu majoritarian nationalism had clicked. This is shown in the BJP’s Manifesto – for one, the Ram temple in Ayodhya has always been included in the BJP manifesto for the past several elections, and now - Sabarimala temple in Kerala - makes entry into the BJP manifesto for the very first time.

Another being the Citizenship Amendment Bill – where the BJP manifesto stated its commitment and mentions the protection of Hindus from neighbouring countries escaping to India. Moreover, BJP in its manifesto had promise to bring Uniform Civil Code.

In this five years, Modi is engrossed in image – making to suit the BJP manifesto. His image from a “strong leader” had progressed to an image of a “Hindu” leader. This is so obvious in his last appearance at his pilgrimage to Kedarnath – where he was seen visiting the holy place and sitting for a meditation in a cave.

This is a clear picture of what the mood of the majority citizens of the country is. Modi is an image reflection of the psyche of majority Indians. Modi had clearly enacted the majority Indian’s minds and thoughts.

He has worked on creating this Idol image over the last five years - appeasing his voters. Though many of his followers and supporters may not necessarily like Modi – his way of functioning or his leadership- but the truth is, majority Indians are surely idolising that image, Modi so very well projected and successfully created. And this is reflected in the 2019 general election and its result.

* Ninglun Hanghal wrote this article for
The writer can be reached at hanghal(DOT)ninglun(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on May 25, 2019.

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