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A clean sweep

A clean sweep

"India wins yet again", gasped Narendra Modi via his tweet as his Bharatiya Janta Party and allies registered a landslide victory yesterday. The counting trends that the nation woke up to suggested a comprehensive NDA grab of Centre's seat in line to predictions brought up by exit polls. The so portrayed 'silent' Modi wave suddenly grew gigantic and swept the nation, expanding BJP's outreach compared to its last outing in 2014. BJP registered more votes in several states such as Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh than it had in 2014 which clearly backed the Modi wave. BJP's more than 50 per cent vote share in a dozen big states strongly affirms his popularity as well as India's decision. Not just Modi but all stalwarts from BJP won their respective seats, and by a margin, which invariably signifies the nation's mood and expectations. Despite losing the Hindi Belt to Congress in assembly elections prior to the Lok Sabha election, BJP arose to a commanding lead. Trends cited a figure meandering around 340 seats for NDA while Congress and its allies featured in a poor bracket of 90-110 seats with Congress managing only a meagre gain of 10-12 seats from a historic low of 44 last time. Other parties collectively put up a fair show of 100-110 seats. BJP's soaring confidence to storm back to power as a single-largest party capable of forming a government on its own has been aptly reflected in the outcome of this tedious exercise. Opinion and exit polls had predicted a clean sweep but their credibility was limited. However, post-results, it seems there was no doubt that BJP will return to power, even as the anti-BJP sentiment strengthened amidst the opposition parties. BJP, all along, had been confident of the win even as reports of EVM-rigging surfaced which sparked curiosity over handling of precious voting machines by authorities. While the concern was amplified by a consortium of opposition parties who took the matter to the Election Commission, it did not yield much. EC stood by the Supreme Court's order of tallying VVPATs for five polling stations in each assembly segment. Trends usually oscillate, keeping the fight on but not yesterday since it was clear right from the morning tea as to who is going to accede to the seat of government at Raisina Hills. The all-day counting process facilitated drum beats at BJP offices across the nation with party workers and supporters revelling. BJP's trajectory to yet another historic win includes its growing presence in states where it had not done well back in 2014. Of the 282 seats the party won in 2014, 193 came from Hindi-speaking populous states of North India but this time it surprised the opposition by its gains in Odisha, West Bengal, Karnataka, Maharashtra as well as Assam and Tripura. While BJP is yet to penetrate the south, losing out to UPA in Kerala, Tamil Nadu (where DMK restrained BJP) and YSRCP – which swept all seats – in Andhra Pradesh, its pan-Indian presence has definitely enhanced. Its crucial alliance in Maharashtra and Bihar with Shiv Sena and JDU respectively aided in widening the lead even as it lost Punjab to Congress. The most dismal performance in the anti-BJP camp evidently remains that of BSP-SP-RLD combine who looked strong but could not prevent BJP from sweeping the major chunk of seats in Uttar Pradesh.

The clean sweep outlines India's decision to see a strong leader like Modi lead and build a strong nation. All electoral rhetorics come to an end when people's mandate is pronounced and quite rightly, Modi has been hailed as the one India desires. Irrespective of issues that manifested while his term or adversities that arose along communal lines, irrespective of the negative rate of job growth or resounding agrarian crises across the country, Modi's polarising figure trumped outstanding issues while his government's on-ground work spoke louder than the oppositions' allegations and sops. Congress could only muster a clear majority in two states viz. Kerala and Punjab, with Rahul Gandhi's decision to contest from Wayanad working well for the party while simultaneously costing him his family's bastion seat in Amethi. For the country in general, the 'if not Modi then who' question decided the mandate then and there. It does seem that the absence of a strong opposition leader has definitely let the opposition down. For them, issues were real and rallying around those while accusing BJP of building a narrative around national security in the light of recent events seemed enough but not for the country. For India, the presence of a strong enigmatic leader in Modi with no proven accounts of corruption and work across sectors was enough to make a choice. It will be ascertained in the years to come how right this mandate is.

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