Assembly Election Results 2017: Narendra Modi becomes the BJP's Indira Gandhi

The five state Assembly elections are more evidence of the great Indian divide. India is today split into two sharp camps: Pro-Narendra Modi and anti-Narendra Modi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves to people during his road show in Varanasi. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves to people during his road show in Varanasi. PTI

And Modi is the man.

As much as his magic did not work in his deal with the Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab (and as we can see Goa and Punjab are a bit iffy), as far as the cherry was concerned in Uttar Pradesh, Modi is the star. He swamped the state with his juggernaut. The fact is he has emphasised his singular position as a national leader and if one adds the showing in Uttarakhand — which was also a romp for the BJP — it has to be accepted that the Modi factor is well, alive and pretty national in texture.

The nation still loves him, finds him credible and worthy of following. It also strengthens his hand for the Delhi civic elections and puts the AAP on the backfoot. The Arvind Kejriwal bandwagon has lost its wheels and is probably the most depressed entity after these results.

Personality politics are now central to Indian state elections which really should not come as a surprise since this element is not new. The party cadres are secondary to Modi, Captain Amarinder Singh, the Yadavs, Navjot Singh Sidhu and even Rahul Gandhi, who is being trolled for the loss of face in Uttar Pradesh, but any call for his removal as the Congress leader will be muted now that Punjab has become the engine for the Congress revival. It has enough octane being a pivotal state and India’s bread basket to create a national resurgence if it delivers the wings for an 'Udta Punjab'.

The one interesting fallout of these results is the endless controversy that will be created about whether Rahul should stay on as Congress leader in the fight from this moment onwards. If he can be damned so out of hand for the Uttar Pradesh failure, it seems a bit unfair that he is denied credit in the states where the Congress showed its mettle. While Modi might feel he has vanquished Mayawati, the Yadavs, Kejriwal and Rahul in one fell swoop, the little fly in the ointment is Punjab because the Congress hasn’t been decimated and booted off the chessboard.

If it had lost Punjab, the party literally would have been over.

Despite the white noise about Rahul and his abilities or the lack thereof, the question the deserters from the Congress ranks who will now reconsider crawling back is whether the dynasty is their best adhesive and with the addition of Priyanka to the mix, is the Gandhi label still their best bet? Even as the Congress tries to build on its Punjab triumph, the BJP is now tasked with the responsibility of making a success of Uttar Pradesh by way of governance and results.

The state is a fractious and volatile one. With no opposition of any sort to the Modi Colossus, the absolute power it has won could be a detriment. If it fails to improve things by attacking crime, ending gang wars, reducing casteism and balancing the Hindu-Muslim stress factor the Modi magic will have to be more than sleight of hand. Uttar Pradesh will be impatient and expect miracles. Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for and landslide victories tagged to one person comes with its own tensions.

It also makes it no different from the Congress dynasty and the 'brand' is what will be on the top of the totem pole for every state election in the future. Indira became the party; Modi hopefully will be a lot more savvy and avoid the same abyss of being bigger than the base.

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Published Date: Mar 12, 2017 01:09 pm | Updated Date: Mar 12, 2017 01:09 pm