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BJP landslide leaves parties in cold

BJP landslide leaves parties in cold
The Modi miracle has worked convincingly to turn the irresistible national mood for change in BJP’s favour, giving his party and its allies, an overwhelming majority in the 16th Lok Sabha, which could provide a strong and stable government at the Centre.

The Congress-led UPA’s ten-year rule is ending with a humiliating defeat for the party which had failed miserably in recent years and lost credibility.

Narendra Modi, the 63-year old Gujarat chief minister, is expected to assume office as the prime minister in the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, with the completion of formalities on 21 May. While Modi can claim an unprecedented achievement from his intense campaigning in the 2014 elections, it would not be easy for him to rise to expectations over a short period of time.
The challenges before him are tough, especially in reviving economic growth with investments, combating inflation and putting through urgent reforms. In his first reaction to the massive victory for his party and his own election by huge majority in two places including Varanasi with prayer for Mother Ganga, Modi tweeted ‘India has won. Good days are ahead’.

Apart from the disgrace inflicted on the Congress, the BJP’s all-time record of wins in several states has also cut most of the regional majors to size, barring AIADMK led by Chief Minister Ms. Jayalalithaa of Tamil Nadu, who has established a unique record of winning nearly all of the 39 seats in Tamil Nadu, without any alliance.

The Modi government will not have to look for any outside support for majority outside his NDA. The proposed Third Front to fill a possible power vacuum in case neither of the two major national parties failed to secure absolute majority has also become a non-starter.

Known for his decisiveness and the ‘free hand’ he has reportedly sought from the seniors in his party, there may be some concern on the part of influential sections of opinion within the country, and more specially abroad, as to whether he might proceed to take up, over time, elements of a majoritarian agenda enshrined in the BJP manifesto such as uniform civil code and construction of Ram mandir.

Internationally, Modi had been held to be a ‘divisive’ and somewhat authoritarian in hs approach though in recent months, other nations including the United States have begun to overcome their inhibitions about him. Modi’s choice as BJP’s prime ministerial candidate had been endorsed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the spiritual guide for the party.

Modi and the RSS leader Mohan Bhagwat are well- known to each other and enjoy an ideological rapport. It is assumed that Modi will, however, be discreet in taking up any agenda favoured by RSS which is reported to have hailed the poll outcome for a ‘friendly government’ in New Delhi.

The 2014 elections have turned out to be a big game-changer on India’s political landscape. While the Congress has been nearly wiped out, equally remarkable is the downgrading of regional majors like the Samajwadi party of Mulayam Singh Yadav, now ruling UP, and the Janata Dal (United) running the Bihar government. The BJP has trounced all other parties which had dominated the state including SP and BSP of Mayawati, and clinched over 70 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats.

In the proposed Third Front which was to be floated in the event of a power vacuum if neither of the two major alliances led by Congress and BJP could cross the coveted 272-mark in the 543-member Lok Sabha, some of the leaders of regional parties like Mulayam Singh Yadav were aspiring to take the leadership of government at the Centre. The Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee had also distanced herself from NDA and Modi and herself was looking for a key role at the Centre. She has however maintained her hold in West Bengal by securing 33 out of 42 seats.

The most outstanding performance at the state level is that of AIADMK led by Jayalalithaa, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, having fought the elections without any alliance and nearly fulfilling its objective of securing nearly all of the 39 Lok Sabha seats. While it is set to become the third largest party in Lok Sabha, after BJP taking power and the Congress in opposition, AIADMK had also set its sights on Ms. Jayalalithaa taking on a national role. This may no longer hold the field in the vastly changed national scene. Jayalalithaa would, however, remain a force to reckon with in Centre-state relations.

For AIADMK, the stunning victory marks another crushing defeat for the DMK led by Karunanidhi, as in the 2011 assembly elections. The DMK leader had hoped to checkmate Jayalalithaa’s march and assert DMK’s strength in Tamil Nadu, in preparation for the 2016 assembly elections.

The 90-year old DMK leader who wants to pass on the mantle of party leadership to his younger son M K Stalin will now have to do some agonising appraisal on how the party could re-assert its relevance, freed from its family feuds. IPA
S Sethuraman

S Sethuraman

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