Election 2014, most memorable
This election for the Lok Sabha in 2014 will be remembered for many things as different and specific in many respects, besides what Modi spoke about after winning the election in Vadodara and Varanasi. This is the first election in which the incumbent prime minister of the party did not participate in the election campaign or was not allowed to because of the fear that people will be reacting aggressively to his inefficiency and allowing systemic failure of the government. Though, the face of Yuvaraj also could not do wonder and the Congress party received the worst ever electoral defeat in its history. Secondly, the Modi factor dominated the discourse so much that the regional parties and Left got subsumed in it. For the first time after two decades of coalition era the parties like SP, BSP, JD(U), RJD, Shiv Sena etc could not engage the public mind. Only Jaylalithaa and Mamata were exception to this and while all these parties against the BJP lost miserably, these two comfortably tide over the Modi wave. Third, for the first time no coalition of third front in any shape could come in the picture. Fifth, this election would be known for the worst ever rhetoric and slangs used in political discourse and all parties used it more or less. Sixth, this election was led by without the old guards. While Advani, Joshi and Sushma Swaraj remained on the margin in deciding the tickets to campaign, even the Congress party revolved around the Rahul Gandhi.
This election brought in three main discourses represented by three key national players, namely, Narendra Modi, Arvind Kejriwal and Rahul Gandhi. The major plank of Arvind Kejariwal was anti-corruption campaign. This was liked by the people in Delhi who not only took the issue to streets in support but also voted AAP closer to power number in Delhi assembly elections. However, tantrums of Arvind Kejriwal and his team members; be that over enthused but unconstitutional conducts against the Delhi Police on foreign nationals or taking to streets was found overstretched activism almost resounding to anarchy tarnished his image as a responsible political leader. Further, Arvind pained all leaders with one brush and so did he do the corporate. For him everyone was either a thug or dacoits except the ones who were part of his party. This was appreciated initially in the movement but it lost credibility once he started speaking as leader of a party who was to enter the electoral fray for the sake of votes. People started imputing motive to such allegations. Besides, their own members were found in corrupt deals at many places including ticket distribution in the Lok Sabha. Arvind raised a great hope but his ambition to influence the national politics overnight reduced him as a marginal players. Rahul Gandhi failed to convince the people on development issues. Except for MNREGA, right to information and right to food he failed to sell the idea that the government actually worked a lot. To cover the tainted regime which marked the UPA-II and which also engulfed the prestige and the image of the Gandhi family due to Robert Vadra land deals in Haryana and Rajasthan Rahul banked on the old rhetoric of secularism with a hope to polarise the Muslim votes to his sides. The projection that this election was a fight of two ideologies one represented by the Congress and the other led by the BJP which the former claimed to be divisive and exclusivists was all intended to sell a thoroughly bogus and spurious version of secularism. This did not work. Rather it failed miserably and benefited the BJP more in electoral terms. The first major rise of the BJP was primarily due to the same bogus secularism propagated by Rajiv Gandhi. The politics of appeasement had convinced the Hindu voters to rally around the BJP. Two terms of the UPA has been a glaring example of propagating perverted notion of secularism with a sole aim to seek the Muslim votes. This certainly galvanised the people around Modi who along with development also emerged as iconic figure of Hindutva. By constant criticism and sinister design to implicate his men and embroil them in manufactured cases made Modi hero in the minds of Hindus cutting across the caste and regional lines. It is no less than wonder that his appeal surpassed all caste, linguistic and regional barriers and this has significantly reflected in the election results.
Modi occasionally deviated in his electoral speech when he discussed the communal secular discourse in his election in response to allegations. But most of the time he talked of mis-governance and policy paralysis of the UPA on the one hand and his model of development in Gujarat on the other. He communicated with the masses and gave wings to their aspirations. The matter of fact is that a lot many people from Bihar and UP in recent years have migrated to Bihar and their narratives are convincing in favour of Modi. The young voters flooded the social media with their comments in favour of Modi. Modi could connect with them because he raised the issues which is close to the heart of every youth in India; a fast growing nation which could fulfil the dreams of the young minds, which could give them job and a sense of pride of being Indian. It is yet to be tested and only time will tell how far he succeeded in delivery and coming to the expectations of the people but he raised hopes in their minds of millions young people. Both Rahul and Arvind represented the politics of negativities. And both have been failures in responding to crisis and in time of testing. Rahul who so much acted the play of bravery did not intervene in matter of corruptions within the party and Arvind Kejriwal failed to deliver as a chief minister of Delhi. Every chief minister including Modi has worked under constitutional and extra-constitutional constraints. And many of them have delivered unlike Kejriwal who chose to chase his national political ambition. Modi represented the positive goals for the nation which finally tilted the verdict in his favour. It was not a vote for BJP as such. It was a vote for the BJP with Modi in the
The author is Associate Professor of Political Science at Maharaja Agrasen College, University of Delhi