There are many features of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections that have not been highlighted till now. They relate to the BJP’s campaign, the message and the outcome.
The significance of the poll result has drowned several aspects that should set the tone for any election dialogue not just in India but abroad too.
Several critical gains achieved by the BJP have shattered many myths. Political discourses are yet to analyse the emergence of some sections of voters from a perceived caste/religion cocoon they were made to live in. For the BJP, these gains mean much and politically they have to be sustained and reinforced.
The BJP correctly read the mood of the people who yearned for the removal of the Congress from power at the Centre. Our campaign did not mince words when it called for a ‘Congress-mukht Bharat’.
The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, campaigned even in states where the party organisation was delicately poised. The overwhelming response to Modi’s election rallies was there for everyone to see. The outcome of this election captures this dynamic.
In the 16th Lok Sabha, there will be no Congress member of Parliament from 14 states: the National Capital Region of Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Nagaland, Odisha, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttarakhand and Seemandhra.
There will be no Congress MP from six Union Territories: Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Puducherry and Lakshadweep. The gravity of the Congress’ defeat can be understood by one more fact: In Tamil Nadu, out of 39 seats, the Congress’ candidates have lost their deposits in 38 seats.
After PV Narasimha Rao and HD Deve Gowda, Modi will be the third chief minister and only the second after Jawaharlal Nehru for a first-time MP to become prime minister. He will become the first prime minister of India to be born after Independence when he takes oath on May 26.
But these records pale when we compare the extent and nature of his election campaign. The scale of the campaign has stunned many international observers.
As it is, remarks about Indian politics being an intense and full-time activity are made without appreciating that those in politics have no time schedules.
Between September 15, 2013 and May 10, 2014, the PM-designate covered over 3,00,000 kilometres. Between March 26 and May 10, on an average, he held four to five rallies per day. In total, Modi held 437 rallies and other programmes such as laying the foundation stone for the Statue of Unity.
Modi’s campaign schedule ran on time, bucking the notorious trend of public meetings running hours behind schedule.
Between rallies, Modi also gave media interviews. There were a few motivational sessions with party workers and strategy meetings with senior leaders. He also met diplomats, new allies and concerned citizens.
The long working hours and the sheer diversity of activities that required his involvement needed high energy levels and Modi was up to the challenge. His energy helped us beat monotony, labour and the heat. Each Modi rally captured the imagination of the young and the old.
That energy also helped to increase the hopes and expectations of the people. However, it was contained and diffused with measured discretion.
This can be exemplified by Modi’s conduct at the Hunkar rally in Patna. Informed of a bomb within the rally’s periphery, the BJP leaders under his stewardship ensured that there was no panic. It was providential that the entire party leadership and the people of Bihar returned safe that day. Unfortunately, a few precious lives were lost.
It is a matter of interest for many that Modi is at ease with new communication technologies. That he readily adopts them for efficiency was apparent when he started using 3D hologram technology for the campaign.
He used this in the 2012 Gujarat assembly elections and found the public response inspiring and motivating. In the Lok Sabha campaign, 3D holograms were used in 1,350 locations spread over 12 rounds.
The campaign outcome has brought hope for stability. After 1984, when the elections happened under different circumstances, voters have favoured a single party with majority seats. The BJP has secured support from all sections of voters.
Unquestioned and hitherto held myths have been shaken up if not shattered.
Here are some interesting facts: 84 seats in the Lok Sabha are reserved for the scheduled castes. The BJP contested in 62 such seats and won 40. Of this, six were won by women.
The NDA partners have won nine, taking the total number to 49. There are 48 seats for scheduled tribes (ST) in the Lok Sabha. The BJP contested in 40 seats and has won 27.
Its allies won two, taking the total to 29. The BJP also fielded ST candidates from three general seats and won all. The BJP fielded 38 women in the 428 seats it contested. Among them, 30 won. This Parliament will have 62 women members and 48.38% of them shall be from the BJP. The party fielded eight minority candidates but no one won.
The Modi-led BJP has set high standards of endurance, substance and diversity in its campaign. This is reflective of the diversity of this country. The people related to Modi, recognised not only the tried-and-tested leadership in him but also his dedication and commitment.
Henceforth, this energy and commitment will be dedicated to nation building.
Nirmala Sitharaman is national spokesperson, BJP. The views expressed by the author are personal.