It was a sweltering afternoon in Varanasi, and we were waiting for an Opposition stalwart to speak to us during the election campaign. As the rally got over, my interview commenced and I questioned about the inorganic alliance and choice of Prime Minister for the Opposition, the leader asserted that Opposition has diverse options.
That’s where the Opposition lost the plot, merrily oblivion of the fact that India was vying for decisive, incisive and implacable leadership.
Now that poll cacophony has ended and poll drums have fallen silent and BJP boasts of an astounding majority… I am compelled to reminisce over memories of my election reportage and fish for answers- Why 303?
There might be 542 Lok Sabha seats but for the NDA there was only one candidate contesting on all 542 seats… no prizes for guessing- Mr Narendra Modi.
From the Vindhyas (Telangana) to the heart of India (Madhya Pradesh) to the desert state (Rajasthan) to India’s political hotbed (Uttar Pradesh) – Modi-i-zation, Modi-ism and Modi-itva was overbearing (these are the states that I covered). Else what explains BJP bagging four seats in Telangana after retaining just one seat in the 2018 assembly elections in the state?
From farmers to traders, from students to professionals, from women to men, the sense reverberated- Mr Modi could herald a new era in India. His oratory, his lucidity, his connect with the voters, even his sartorial choices etched in the hearts of the voters with many trying to emulate him.
The suicide bombing in Pulwama, in which 40 paramilitary jawans were martyred infuriated our nation. The subsequent Indian Air Force strike on Balakot, in Pakistan and Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman’s release gave many voters a sense of stability and security, who hailed and credited Prime Minister’s unflinching leadership.
The voters also juxtaposed him against all of his predecessors. If Ujjwala, Swachh Bharat, Awas Yojana (urban, rural) earned him accolades then PM Samman Nidhi further fortified his position. Most marginal farmers had Rs 2,000 credited to their bank accounts under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi, PM-KISAN. PM Kisan Yojana promises an annual payout of Rs 6,000 to small and marginal farmers.
Prime Minister said in his victory speech- 130 करोड़ हिंदुस्तानियों ने आज फकीर की झोली भर दी…Yes For Narendra Modi 2.0, the mandate of 2019 has brought brute majority but collaterally has burdened him with gazillion expectations.
If 2014 was an election of aspirations, 2019 was an election of articulation of those aspirations.