There is not a shadow of doubt that Acche Din 2.0 is here for BJP and blame (or credit) demonetisation for it. The signals are too hard to miss. BJP is poised to end its 14-year Uttar Pradesh vanvaas with the biggest-ever tally (the party leads in 308 seats in the 403-seat Assembly just over an hour into counting), and is set to form the government in Uttarakhand and is giving the ruling Congress a tough fight in Manipur, a state where it had no existence until very recently. This is a return of the near-total saffron sweep that we saw during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Goa, swimming against the national trend, is the only blip on radar. But that shouldn’t take away from the larger picture. And the macro picture is a staggering indictment of Narendra Modi’s bold move of demonetisation.
In one stroke, the prime minister has re-captured the imagination that he had caught on in 2014 with his promise of 'Acche Din'. Every politician looks for a winning narrative that may iron out every crease and smoothen every pocket of discontent. Modi seems to have done just that with notebandi. The result is a mind-boggling one. Not even during the saffron unit’s heydays under Kalyan Singh in 2002 did BJP flaunt such an electoral muscle as it looks to be doing on 11 March, 2017. This result, if current trend of its lead in 278 seats in 403-seat UP Assembly holds, will eclipse even the record tally it achieved in 2014 when it had swept 73 out of 80 constituencies.
Bear in mind that BJP had not even declared a chief ministerial candidate in UP and all opinion polls had highlighted this crucial lacunae in its strategy, putting SP and BSP ahead simply because they had accepted, clear-cut chief ministerial candidates. The fact that it didn’t matter in the end is because through notebandi, Modi made it a referendum on himself. Whereas BJP would have otherwise been judged according to the strengths and weaknesses of its candidates, notebandi pitted Modi’s political capital against Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati, and every seat in every nook and corner of Uttar Pradesh was an indictment of Modi.
Once that happened, every other party, caste-community combination, every gathbandhan or mahagathbandhan became irrelevant because Modi still enjoys a huge amount of trust among the electorate. Akhilesh might enjoy goodwill for development, Mayawati may put forward the story of the subalterns but against Modi, none had even a slither of a chance.
This is because Modi understands the aspirations of rural India better than most of his peers and knows how to tap into the hope that new-age, young voters still carry. Whereas other parties like the ruling SP, Congress or BSP took every decision based on a caste-community calculus, Modi understood ahead of everyone else that these considerations will fade away if the electorate is presented with an over-arching narrative that notebandi precisely was.
Critics and pundits could be debating the benefits of notebandi till the crows come home but the political message that went through was: “Here was a man in Modi who is not averse to taking tough decisions in the interest of the poor and the nation”. Once that narrative was in place, the inconveniences faced by the electorate faded and even aided the positive mood of a morality play.
This is political messaging of the highest order, one that is simply out of the league of current politicians who were still stuck in the narrative of the 90s. Uttar Pradesh merely confirms that truth.
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Updated Date: Mar 11, 2017 15:21:30 IST