Congress, Results Prove PM's Popularity. Accept it.

Published: October 19, 2014 19:17 IST
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(Nalin S Kohli is spokesperson for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Director of the party's Public Policy Research Centre. He is also a lawyer and has extensive experience in media and education.)

It is, indeed, a Super Sunday for the BJP. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity and credibility as a leader, the performance of his government despite its short tenure in office, and the hard work of the party cadres has borne fruit. A full-majority BJP government is a reality in Haryana, and the party has announced its intent to form a government in Maharashtra after recording its highest-ever electoral tally there.

The arithmetic of the final electoral outcome in Haryana and Maharashtra is heady and humbling. That the voters in both states have placed their faith in the leadership and abilities of Prime Minister Modi and the BJP is indeed a vote of confidence for the party and the leadership.

While Narendra Modi is indeed the most popular leader in the country, BJP President Amit Shah's capabilities as an astute strategist and organization mastermind have also been decisively reiterated.

Prior to 2014, in Haryana the BJP had never contested more than 26 seats or won more than 16. Today it has created electoral history by increasing its seats from four in the outgoing assembly to well over the half-way mark of 45 seats. Similarly in Maharashtra, the BJP had never contested more than 119 seats and its highest tally in five decades was 65 seats in 1995. Today's result, in triple digits,  has surpassed even 119 seats the BJP had previously contested. The party's vote share has almost doubled since the last assembly election in 2009.

Beyond numbers, there are important messages to take home. The result marks a fundamental shift in the political reality of the country. Performance and development are now clearly at the centre of the political discourse. The Congress' defeat in both Haryana and Maharashtra marks the decimation of its brand of power politics that thrived on evoking past glory, enjoying the often illicit fruits of being in office, and seeking votes on future promises with previous ones remaining undelivered.

The results also indicate a defeat of the false propaganda machinery of the Congress party which consistently sought votes by playing up a politically-motivated battle between secularism and communalism. The Congress, at its own peril, chose to repeatedly ignore the reality that Indians were impatiently seeking change and performance. The Lok Sabha and current assembly results endorse this. Voters are no longer willing to accept convenient political positioning in the garb of ideology. They desire the fulfillment of their aspirations, and the BJP is the party they trust for delivering this and good governance.

Equally important is that the Congress is geographically shrinking. After the loss of Haryana and Maharashtra, the Congress has just two governments each in the South (Kerala and Karnataka) and North (Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand) and five in the north-eastern part of the country. "Congress-mukt Bharat" that was first mocked as "only a catchy slogan" is getting closer to becoming a reality. In fact, in both states, the Congress finds itself yet again in an uneasy position where the mandate has denied them the role of the principal opposition party and the post of Leader of Opposition!

The Lok Sabha was no political fluke and neither are these electoral outcomes in Haryana and Maharashtra. And with elections due in several states over the next one year, this holds promise for the party.

Simultaneously, those who repeatedly questioned the popularity of Prime Minister Modi have also been silenced. As Mr Modi has affirmed, his popularity is not imposed, it has been earned directly from the people.

Ultimately, this is a victory of the people of both Haryana and Maharashtra. With the heady celebrations that follow a historic mandate, the BJP is well-aware that the real vote is for work and performance. And the party's leadership accepts this responsibility with humility. 

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