The divided opposition for election 2019 found one common chant during the campaign: The inevitability of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s defeat or a calamity for India in the future. Voters have trusted the Bharatiya Janata Party’s ‘Modi hai to mumkin hai’ [if it’s Modi, it’s possible] promise. Verdict 2019 is bigger and has a wider spread than Modi’s 2014 mandate.
It saw Narendra Damodardas Modi fight as candidate, plank and promise. Employing Hindu nationalism, the PM has managed to polarise, beat caste calculations and avoid a vote on his failures to address unemployment, acute farm distress, the pain caused by reforms such as GST and even obliterate memories of 40 CRPF personnel killed in Pulwama and two attacks at defence establishments.
If Modi has achieved what no other PM has after Indira Gandhi did in 1971, by getting a second majority verdict, there are a million subtexts such as his minister Smriti Irani defeating Congress president Rahul Gandhi in Amethi- the first loss for a president of a mainstream pan-national party in decades.
Also, Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal, Naveen Patnaik in Odisha and beating the caste arithmetic of the SP-BSP in Uttar Pradesh.
The Union cabinet is sure to get a relook by the prime minister. The jury is out on whether Amit Shah will seek a third term as president, or may get inducted into the council of ministers to occupy a key ministry.
The first big impact of the BJP win will be seen in states such as West Bengal and Odisha where the BJP has tasted blood.
From next Monday, without waiting, the BJP will go for the jugular in states where the party has made inroads. Under Modi and party president Amit Shah, the BJP is a ruthless party machine. This will be part of BJP’s plans to grow aggressively beyond India’s populous Hindi speaking states in the north and strongholds such as Gujarat and Maharashtra.
The next move will also come in states in south India. The BJP can’t be a wholesome pan-Indian party like the Congress of the past, till it wins the south. The alliance with the AIADMK in Tamil Nadu is to earn a foothold. The BJP is eyeing a cozy relationship with Jagan Mohan Reddy in Andhra Pradesh who vanquished Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party, as well as K Chandrashekar Rao in Telangana.
Addressing party workers on Thursday, Amit Shah sent out a signal to the two leaders by congratulating them for their wins. IT is part of take-no-prisoners brand of politics that the Modi-Shah duo practices. If Mamata and Patnaik are facing a hostile Modi-Shah duo in the future, shaky governments in Karnataka, ruled by the acrimonious JD (S)-Congress alliance and Madhya Pradesh, headed by Kamal Nath’s government, with a wafer thin majority, face a clear and present danger. In both states, the BJP is already posturing aggressively to bring the governments down.
The Congress stays the second largest party nationally but has suffered a second successive drubbing. Its president Rahul Gandhi has failed on almost every front.
Under Rahul’s watch the grand old party’s geographical space has shrunk. In India’s most crucial states – Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Bengal- the party is heading towards extinction. It’s routed in its one-time key harvest zone of Andhra Pradesh. It has no fire-power in old citadels like Maharashtra or Gujarat.
After the rout, Rahul Gandhi accepted the mandate but didn’t take responsibility for the loss. Rahul Gandhi has lost the family fortress Amethi to Smriti Irani. He has to find answers to several questions. The old guard will ask how the party will be run.
In the decisive state of Uttar Pradesh, which sends 80 MPs to parliament, the BJP has beaten the opposition in the third straight election. Two alliances – SP-Congress and the SP-BSP-RLD -have failed to slow the BJP down. Caste is failing in the caste cauldron.
The markets have reacted positively to the return of Modi as a strong PM. But PM Modi’s mandate 2 is like a five-year lease. He has to deliver on promises to uplift the condition of farmers, job seekers and others who run India’s economy.
From now on, investors will watch every step PM Modi takes. A strong Hindutva agenda may bring turmoil which will discourage investors. The Budget, likely to be presented by mid-July, will be the most awaited event.
Modi may have earned the votes by styling himself as a charismatic honest vikas purush, or development and Hindutva mascot, but the US-China trade war and the imminent crude price hike due to US sanctions against Iran are stiff challenges.
In its manifesto, the BJP displayed populist leanings. It had promised 100 lakh crore investment and pension for traders. With demand for lesser taxes by one segment and greater spending by the other, the PM will be walking the tightrope.