Despite the impressive performance notched up by the BJP in the just-concluded four assembly elections, the jury is still out on the 'Narendra Modi wave.' The data collected from the polled results show that the BJP's prime ministerial candidate is definitely a factor, but is probably riding a
wave rather than creating one.
This is perhaps true in Delhi where empirical data shows that out of the six constituencies that Modi held rallies in, only two elected BJP candidates.
Read: Modi 'not a factor', MP Muslims voted for Chouhan
In Ambedkarnagar, Ballimaran, Sultanpur Majra and Rohini where Modi held impressive rallies, the BJP candidates lost. It was only in Vishwasnagar and Matiala that the party won the election, while yielding ground to the Aam Aadmi Party in most other constituencies.
Considering that Modi led a visible and high-voltage campaign in Delhi failed to make an impact on the voters, especially where it mattered.
Even a high profile address to the students of Sri Ram College of Commerce in Delhi's North campus did not yield expected electoral gains. In fact, the BJP's vote share came down marginally from 36.3% to 34%.
Of course, some imponderables remain. Some could argue that Modi's presence helped the party remain the incumbent on Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and do phenomenally well in Rajasthan.
But such an assumption would have to then discount local factors such as the presence of incumbent chief ministers like Shivraj Singh Chauhan and Raman Singh or an established leader like Vasundhara Raje.
Read: Congress lost all seats Rahul visited, BJP won in 16 of 20 places where Modi went in Rajasthan
In Chhattisgarh, where the BJP fought off a strong challenge from the Congress, the BJP lost five constituencies out of the 12 that Modi campaigned in. Seats like Kanker, Dongargaon, Komba, Bilha, Mahasamund and Durg did not elect the BJP despite rallies by Modi. In fact, Chhattisgarh also sent the highest number of NOTA votes in absolute and percentage terms. The state did see the BJP's vote share go up by a marginal 1.27%.
In Rajasthan, where Modi addressed 20 constituencies, 16 went to the BJP in an impressive show of strength. The 11.9% jump in vote shares also clearly shows that the voters wanted the BJP back after a five-year hiatus in the opposition. As Raje tried to speak to her supporters after winning the elections, she was virtually drowned out by chants for Modi. That is a fair indication of the impact that Modi had on the elections and more importantly, on the BJP cadres.
Read: BJP wrests back Rajasthan, Raje thanks Modi for success
Finally, in Madhya Pradesh, the BJP saw a healthy 7.6% jump in vote shares. The incumbent chief minister Chauhan also notched up a personal best of the highest margin of winning votes. Some of this must have been helped by Modi's visits to 27 constituencies across 9 districts. The BJP won 26 of those 27 seats.
So is this an indication of a “Modi-wave” as the BJP seems to be claiming? The last time India witnessed a political wave was in 1984 in the aftermath of the assassination of prime minister Indira Gandhi. There is little doubt that there is an anti-Congress wave that seems to be serving the BJP and its prime ministerial candidate well for now.
- With inputs from Vijay Swaroop in MP, Rashpal Singh in Rajasthan and Ejaz Kaiser in Chhattisgarh
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