Home English News Is coalition era over? India heads for majority govt after 30 years

Is coalition era over? India heads for majority govt after 30 years

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modi17_650_051614120541New Delhi, May 16 – Barely an hour after the count began, the picture was clear: it was just the countdown for Narendra Modi to ascend the high chair. Riding on an immense electoral wave in favour of its prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi, the BJP is marching ahead of all others. The man of the moment is towering over others and fast emerging as the destiny of the nation. It’s not a Modi wave, as talked about, it is a TsuNaMo.

Trends are now available on all Lok Sabha seats. The BJP seems to close in on the half-way mark on its own and with allies well past the 300-mark. The Congress remains dismal and a distant second.

The message is clear and the future could not have been spelt in more direct terms. The Modi wave, it seems, was actually larger than what was believed. As the man of the moment sits quietly in his home in Gandhinagar watching election trends on TV, the future awaits him in New Delhi.

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BJP chief Rajnath Singh who is leading from Lucknow called up Modi to congratulate him on the spectacular performance of the party in the elections. The Gujarat Chief Minister nominee is leading from Varanasi and has won Vadodara (by a margin of more than 4 lakh votes). Modi’s mother, Heeraba, who had been praying for her son has blessed him.

The results show that we are at a watershed moment in the electoral history of the country. The era of regional parties seem to be over. It is after three decades that the country will have a majority government. As the day unfolds and leads consolidate into bigger margins of wins, let us take a look back at what all has gone into making of this Modi wave.

Massive outreach

When it came to legwork, the Gujarat Chief Minister left all other miles behind. In the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Modi travelled a total of 3 lakh kilometres, attending as many as 5,187 events and addressing 477 rallies.

His 38 mega rallies across the nation were attended by 1.1 crore people while his 55 rallies during Assembly polls in four states were attended by an additional 50 lakh people. His 196 Bharat Vijay rallies across Indian were attended by 1.5 crore people.

Then there were other means of reaching out to the voters. His much-talked-about Chai Pe Charcha event across 4,000 locations helped him reach out to 50 lakh people. His 3D hologram rallies generated much curiosity in 1,350 locations where they were held and helped Modi reach out to 1.4 crore people.

Modi is known for using technology to reach out to youngsters. The BJP used modern Information Technology tools to their best potential in its LS campaign. Other than the Chai Pe Charcha videoconferences and 3D rallies of Virtual Modi, the BJP sent SMSes, WhatsApp text messages and voice calls to 13 crore people.

Professionals in the campaign

The BJP had appointed media planner Sam Balsara, who heads Madison Media, for its campaign. It had approached McCann Worldgroup’s high-profile chief, Prasoon Joshi, to handle the creative aspect.

McCann Worldgroup pitched for the Congress campaign last year, but did not get the deal. The party began its campaign with the tagline Main Nahin, Hum, with its vice president, Rahul Gandhi, at the helm.

The global public relations giant Apco Worldwide had earlier handled Modi’s Vibrant Gujarat summit.

The 24×7 war rooms, equipped with social media experts, were also set up to manage the party’s campaign on the internet. A group of 200 youngsters from prestigious institutions like IITs and IIMs quit their jobs to join the BJP’s aggressive internet campaign under an umbrella group titled ‘Citizens for Accountable Governance’.

Modi already has a massive online and social media campaign. Among the first major politicians to take to social media, he has 3.9 million followers on the micro-blogging site Twitter and over 1.3 crore likes on his Facebook page.

How the tempo was built

The BJP built up its campaign right from the world go, i.e. on September 13, 2013, the day when Modi was announced to be the party’s PM nominee. Two days later, on September 15, addressing his first rally as PN candidate in Rewari, Haryana, he raised the issue of secularism even before the Congress could do it so to attack him. “If politicians want to learn secularism, look at the Indian Army,” he said, living the dictum that offence is the best defence.

However, Modi had set the tenor of the campaign much earlier when he spoke about the ‘Gujarat model of development’ during an interaction with the students at Delhi’s Sri Ram College of Commerce in February 2013. He spoke about the Gujarat model again at the India Today Conclave in March, positioning himself as a no-nonsense, pro-development leader.

The next month, on October 27, 2013, speaking at his Hunkar rally in Patna, Modi hit the jackpot in a teapot. “I used to sell tea on trains. I know how difficult it is to make a living,” he said, hitting the right chord with men in the street. Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar saying that Modi could sell tea at the AICC plenary session on January 17 just gave the BJP an opportunity to convert Modi’s humble origin as a tea vendor into a winning poll idea.

In the meanwhile, his vehement personal attacks on the Gandhi family continued. He kept addressing UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi as ‘madam’ and Rahul Gandhi as ‘shehzada’.

When asked if he felt bad about the 2002 Gujarat riots, Modi said on July 12, “Even if a puppy comes under the wheel of a car, will be it be painful or not?” His candidature from the holy city of Varanasi later sealed his hardline Hindu image among the core constituency of his voters.

His last-minute caste card, his response on Twitter to Priyanka Gandhi’s ‘neech rajniti’ jibe that “I am from the backward section, so my politics is neech rajniti” on May 6 served as the masterstroke to spoil regional satrap’s caste calculations in Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Political correctness

All through the high-octane campaign, Modi maintained political correctness even when he courted several controversies.

Addressing a rally in Varanasi from where he contested the Lok Sabha poll and where more than 3 lakh Muslim voters reside, Modi touched the feet of Colonel Nizamuddin, a centenarian and close associate of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, on May 8. Nizamuddin, a native of Azamgarh district, claims to be 114-year-old and had served in Bose’s Indian National Army.

In Ayodhya on May 5, Modi spoke from a dais with portraits of Lord Ram and a Ram temple providing the backdrop. During his speech here, he repeatedly invoked the Hindu deity while addressing his first poll rally here. While he did not make a mention of Ram temple here, he kept making oblique references to the word “promise”. Stating that the Congress’s “maa-beta” government had not kept its promise to provide 10 crore jobs, he said, “Ram ki bhoomi me aise logon ko maaf kiya jata hai kya? Ram ki dharti par vachan ko toda jata hai kya?” (In the land of Ram, can you forgive people who break their promises? Can you break promises in Ram’s land?)

In an interview to the public broadcaster Doordarshan, Modi called Priyanka Gandhi who had been hitting out at him during her campaign – “like his daughter”. A huge controversy erupted when this portion was edited out of the interview. Later when reporters asked Gandhi’s response to Modi’s comment, she said, “Main Rajiv Gandhi ki beti hoon.”

 – INDIA TODAY