Just a couple of days more to the festival of colour, it has now been proved that this year’s Holi dominating hue is kesaria, or saffron. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was right on that count as the election results are being pronounced with the party grabbing a massive victory in the country's most populous state of Uttar Pradesh.
Mostly seen as the mid-term referendum on the prime minister, the results are an indicator that Modi retains his popularity and also enjoys the trust of the people at large. Although demonetisation was a disruption to their daily lives for some time, people still voted for Modi as they thought it was a brave and bold fight against corruption, black money, and terrorism.
The results of the Assembly elections, Uttar Pradesh in particular, say it all. At the time of writing this piece, BJP was leading in 284 and leading in 28 in the House of 403 seats, while in Uttarakhand, BJP was leading in 57 seats in a House of 70. In Goa and Manipur, the party was inching closer towards forming a government but both the states are witnessing a neck and neck competition.
These numbers are even more significant because there was no obvious overriding statewide or national narrative, as also there was no obvious emotive issue. Uttar Pradesh has crossed the 300-mark only thrice and on all the three occasions issues involved were emotive – the first election after Independence, secondly in 1977 when in the aftermath of the Emergency an anti-Indira wave was blowing in north India and thirdly, in 1980, the return of Indira Gandhi to power. In all the three cases, the size of the state Assembly was bigger as Uttarakhand was also a part of the state.
This election was different in the last 37 years, as the Samajwadi Party (SP) numbers in the outgoing Assembly was 224, the highest ever until Modi waved turned everything upside down. Today SP has been reduced to below 50 seats and Mayawati’s BSP reduced to a paltry 18. The current numbers for BJP, 312 were made possible only due to a latent Modi wave which blew in the party’s favour.
In terms of building a solid foundation for the party, Modi could probably match Indira Gandhi or his own party’s icon Atal Bihari Vajpayee. While Indira Gandhi had her father’s legacy by her side, Modi rose from very humble backgrounds selling tea for a living.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee, no doubt along with LK Advani built BJP brick by brick but his victory could reach nowhere close to where Modi has led it to. He has made inroads in the south, east and North East besides consolidating his party in the north and central India. The numbers he has delivered for his party has been beyond the imagination of the Sangh Parivar, the parent organisation of the BJP. But the party is yet to make any significant footprint in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and West Bengal.
There is little doubt that Modi’s personal appeal and Shah’s ability to execute organisational work on the ground have gelled well to help BJP take giant strides in the last few years. Before the announcement of these results, BJP along with its allies ruled in 15 states. While BJP with its senior partner in Punjab went out of power but with the inclusion of Uttar Pradesh and Uttrakhand, BJP would now be ruling in 16 states.
The impact of this most thumping victory would be seen in the presidential election which is scheduled in July. Modi can have his own nominee, without caring much for building a larger consensus as Uttar Pradesh MLAs have higher weightage in the electoral college. The composition of Rajya Sabha would change in due course and the “tyranny of unelected” as was described by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in a different context would go.
Modi and BJP have a huge advantage as the 2019 parliamentary election arrives in two years.
Updated Date: Mar 12, 2017 14:11 PM