Elections

Modi 2.0: Bigger and broader

Poornima Joshi New Delhi | Updated on May 23, 2019 Published on May 23, 2019

The BJP lotus sweeps Hindi heartland, blooms in West Bengal and Odisha

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday returned to power for a second term with an even bigger mandate of 303 seats with a virtual sweep across the Hindi heartland and opening new frontiers in West Bengal and Odisha. The Congress was decimated for the second consecutive time, failing to open its account in as many as 17 States, with its party president Rahul Gandhi losing in the family bastion of Amethi.

The BJP won 63 of the 65 seats in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the three States where it had lost the Assembly elections to the Congress just six months ago. The party was set to make a clean sweep of all the seats in Delhi, Haryana, Gujarat, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, while it had retained all but one seat in neighbouring Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

 

From the northern hills and plains to Karnataka in the South, where the BJP was set to win 23 of the 28 seats, and the new eastern frontier of West Bengal, where the BJP was set to make an impressive collection of 18 out of 42 seats, the BJP has decidedly shrugged off the tag of being a “north Indian party”.

The BJP was also set to form the government in Arunachal Pradesh, where the Assembly poll trends showed the ruling party leading in 30 of the 60 constituencies.

The victorious Prime Minister strode into the BJP headquarters, undeterred by the unseasonal rain in the Capital late in the evening, as a raucous mass of party workers greeted him with chants of “Modi, Modi”.

In an emotional 45-minute speech to the gathered supporters, Modi said he dedicated “every second of my day and every particle of my body to the nation”. He especially reached out to the new Chief Ministers-elect in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha – YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and Naveen Patnaik. Although the BJP on its own has a simple majority in Parliament, the outreach to Naveen Patnaik and Jaganmohan Reddy was underlined even by BJP President Amit Shah, who said, “From the BJP, I want to congratulate Jagan Mohan Reddy. In Odisha, I want to congratulate Naveen Patnaik. In Sikkim, Pawan Chamling and his party need to be congratulated.” Shah said the writing on the wall is clear in West Bengal: “In West Bengal, we will say ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’. Despite State-sponsored repression and rigging, we have won 18 seats. Of five Assembly seats, we have won four. This shows the way forward for Bengal, we will establish our supremacy in Bengal.”

Commitment to federalism

Modi described the “historic” election as a victory of the people and an event for the world to admire and applaud.

“This is the biggest event in the democratic world. The import of this victory will be recognised across the globe. This was an election fought and won by the people of India. The sentiment of the people is a guarantee for the bright future of India. I congratulate all the victorious MPs, whichever party they belong to and whichever State they belong to. I congratulate the winners in the Assembly elections. The BJP is committed to the Constitution of India and federalism. I assure the winners in Assembly elections that the Centre is a party to progress of their States,” said the PM, tearing up and choking at least thrice during his speech.

He also made a pledge, “I will not do anything with bad intent, I will not do anything for myself. Each second of my day, every particle of my body belongs to the country.”

In Uttar Pradesh, the combined arithmetic of the SP-BSP mahagathbandhan failed to breach the BJP’s stronghold, with the party set to win an impressive 62 seats and an overwhelming provisional vote share of 49.50 per cent, which was higher than the combined vote share of the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress, which stood at 43.6 per cent till late-evening counting trends on Wednesday.

In Varanasi, Modi polled a staggering a 6,74,664 votes to defeat his nearest rival by over 5 lakh votes. The giant-killer in UP was, however, Union Minister Smriti Irani, who defeated Congress president Rahul Gandhi in his family bastion of Amethi. Another big winner in UP was Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who polled 6,33,026 votes, trouncing his nearest rival by over 3 lakh votes.

The architect of the ruling party’s victory, BJP president Amit Shah, described the election results as a defeat of the “dynastic and caste parties who thrive on politics of appeasement”.

Mocking the different meetings held by TDP leader N Chandrababu Naidu with different Opposition leaders in Delhi in the past three days, Shah said, “I have a word of advice, especially for N Chandrababu Naidu: If you had done such hard work in the campaign, you could have won a few seats.”

Published on May 23, 2019
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