The BJP leaders and workers across the country are celebrating the historic mandate the party received in the recently held General Elections. Though the final results are yet to be out, it is certain that Narendra Modi would be the next prime minister of India. The party has surpassed its own expectations and is set to win a majority on its own. The trends for the 543 seats indicate that the NDA is set to cross the 340 mark – a historic feat for the coalition. The last time any party received such mammoth mandate was back in 1984 when Rajiv Gandhi was riding on the sympathy wave after the assassination of the then prime minister Indira Gandhi.
These elections have been a historic milestone for the party in many fronts and the response from the Hindi heartland has been phenomenal. The NDA is leading on more than 70 seats out of 80 in UP and similarly in Bihar it is leading in 28 seats out of 40. It has also done exceptionally well in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, among others.
The anti-incumbency wave against the Congress has taken a toll on the party and it is set for one of its worst drubbing in recent history. The grand old party is leading on only 46 seats across the country. Surprisingly, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi won by a slim margin to BJP’s Smriti Irani in Amethi while party President Sonia Gandhi won with a comfortable lead.
Meanwhile, Narendra Modi won from Vadodra as well as Varanasi with AAP Convener Arvind Kejriwal giving a tough fight to the BJP PM nominee. Moreover, BJP veterans LK Advani, Uma Bharti, Rajnath Singh, MM Joshi, among several others have won from their respective constituencies.
The counting of votes would end at 5pm brining the curtains down on one of the most viciously fought elections which saw the largest voter participation in India’s history.
Expert Speak @ 03:00 PM IST
While the CPM has been practically wiped out, the award for best debut in these elections would go to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). After its stellar performance in the Delhi assembly elections last December, it is set to capture four Lok Sabha seats, all of them in Punjab. It will also end as the runner-up in every seat in Delhi and in high-profile Varanasi.
That is remarkable for a party that was born barely a year and half ago. While its leader Arvind Kejriwal and his committed volunteers ran a competitive campaign in Varanasi, trend suggests that he would lose. Kejriwal’s campaign may not have been enough to ensure a win but the indefatigable, young AAP volunteers did win hearts in the holy city. One of the reasons why Kejriwal was able to give a fight to Modi was the ready constituency of Muslim voters which was looking for an alternative to the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress. The AAP can be proud that amid the cacophonous aggression of its rivals, at least in Varanasi it managed to maintain basic decency and decorum that have been so lacking in election campaigns.
Expert Speak @ 12:10 AM IST
While the Congress Party is hurtling towards its worst ever defeat in history, perhaps a worse fate awaits the Communists. The CPM, which ruled West Bengal for an uninterrupted 35 years, will slide to the third spot if current trends continue. In two constituencies, Kolkata North and Kolkata South, it is not even in the picture with the BJP taking the second position. The BJP is the runner-up overall in the state as well.
In the country as a whole, the CPM can hope to win only 6 seats, most of them in Kerala. That is a plunge from 43 seats in 2004 and 16 five years later. One thing clearly stands out in constituencies that CPM is winning; the candidates are young leaders. Failing to groom young leaders in the party has been its biggest bane. The old guard of leaders such as EMS Namboodiripad, Harkishan Surjeet and Jyoti Basu had taken care to push youngsters like Prakash Karat, Sitaram Yechury and MA Baby into Parliament and legislatures. After the leadership changed hands and the youngsters took charge, they failed to identify and create a succession plan that would have taken the party forward. Instead, its leaders maintained a glass ceiling while undermining each other for petty gains. That was a recipe for disaster and now the decimation is complete.
Expert Speak @ 11:40 AM IST
The one big contest that was unaffected by the Modi wave sweeping the country was in the Sikh holy city of Amritsar. The BJP’s leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley is heading towards a crushing defeat. Congress Party’s former Punjab president Captain Amarinder Singh is way ahead of the BJP leader.
Since this election was all about getting a clear people’s mandate, a loss would dim but not eliminate Jaitley’s chances of becoming a cabinet minister. He is tipped to be the finance minister in a Narendra Modi cabinet. Two days ago, he was photographed sitting with Modi, Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari at the Gujarat chief minister’s Gandhinagar residence. The four are now considered to be the core team of the BJP that will make the final decisions. Clearly, a decision to induct Jaitley into the cabinet will raise murmurs within the party.
Expert Speak @ 10:40 AM IST
The first loss of the day is Jat leader Ajit Singh from Baghpat, the first clear fallout of the polarization in Uttar Pradesh after the Muzaffarnagar riots. Singh lost to former Mumbai police commissioner Satyapal Singh, a political novice who contested on a BJP ticket.
Singh’s brand of shape-shifting politics was possible only because of the strong support of Jats and Muslims in about five parliamentary constituencies of Uttar Pradesh. The two communities have been loyal to Singh and before him his father Charan Singh who is believed to have been responsible for creating the vote bank that ultimately helped him become prime minister, even if only for a few days.
The peaceful co-existence was shattered last August when riots hit Muzaffarnagar and surrounding several villages and Muzaffarnagar town killing at least 60 people and displacing more than 50000. Many of the displaced are still living in makeshift camps. Though the spark for the riots was believed to have been lit by two boys harassing a girl, there were allegations that several local BJP leaders fuelled the animosity that developed between the two communities.
Ajit Singh, a six-time member of parliament and several times cabinet minister, last lost a parliamentary election in 1998 following which he floated his own party the Rashtriya Lok Dal.
Expert Speak @ 8:46 AM IST
The first trend to flash across television screens this morning was from Kerala and it showed the Bharatiya Janata Party leading. It would have warmed the cockles of the party and its prime ministerial candidate that the opening was marked by a state that has never elected a BJP lawmaker ever, not to Parliament neither to the assembly.
If the party opens its account in the state it would mark the beginning of a new era in the state’s politics. It is commonly said the biggest Hindu party in Kerala is the CPM because of its strong membership from the community.
Kerala has been getting increasingly polarized over the past many years as Muslim economic and political clout has grown coupled with the emergence of aggressive political outfits such as the Popular Front of India. That has driven even the usually inimical RSS and CPM closer in some places in North Kerala.
A BJP victory, even if it is only one seat, will be seen as the reflection of Hindu assertion. Rumours had also circulated in the state that in Thiruvananthapuram, where the former Railways minister O Rajagopal is contesting, is the party’s best chance because a large number of CPM voters, unhappy with the party’s candidate, had voted for him.
A win here will also be vindication for Narendra Modi, who had aggressively wooed the voters right from the beginning of the election campaign. Focussing on states such as Kerala and Tamil Nadu where the BJP does not have a strong presence was Modi’s strategy.