Jagan Reddy, Stalin, Naveen other big winners
The giant laddoo cake that had been ordered by the Delhi unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) hadn’t even arrived yet from Bengali Sweets on Thursday when the party accomplished a majority on its own in the Lok Sabha.
Although all its allies hadn’t done as well, the BJP, on the strength of its own performance, had taken the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) to 346 seats, a gain of 10 seats.
What it meant was that the biggest winner of the 17th general election was Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who campaigned indefatigably for the BJP and the NDA, addressing 142 election rallies crisscrossing the nation, to make sure that the party and the alliance returned to power once again.
“Phir ek baar Modi Sarkar” (Modi government yet again) was accomplished in the face of an Opposition, led by Rahul Gandhi’s Congress, that trained all its guns on the 68-year-old prime minister — for joblessness, distress in the countryside and even for alleged corruption in the ₹59,000 crore Rafale jet fighter deal.
BJP general senior leader JP Nadda said, “`I had always said 2014 was a Modi wave, 2019 will be a Modi tsunami.”
As the BJP saw it, every time Rahul Gandhi repeated what became his pet campaign slogan — “Chowkidar chor hai (The watchman is a thief)” — a take-off on Modi’s description of himself as the nation’s chowkidar (watchman), referring to the alleged wrongdoing in the Rafale deal, the voters became even more united in their resolve to vote for the prime minister.
“This is not a complex issue, this election was Modi vs the rest. Whatever narrative the BJP built was actually amplified by the opposition,’’ said Muralidhar Rao, BJP general secretary who oversees southern India at the ruling party.
Any reference to the winners wouldn’t be complete without a mention of BJP President Amit Shah. It wasn’t just about his victory in the Gandhinagar seat which he has taken on from party veteran Lal Krishna Advani, but in the manner he achieved what he set out to do. The BJP was set for a clean sweep of all the Lok Sabha seats in Rajasthan and Gujarat and all but one seat in Madhya Pradesh.
In his victory, Modi greeted another big winner in the elections 2019: YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, founder and leader of the YSR Congress Party, which won all 25 Lok Sabha seats in Andhra Pradesh and 141 of the 175 assembly seats in simultaneous elections. Modi wrote in a message to the man set to be the new chief minister of Andhra Pradesh: “Congratulations on the remarkable win in Andhra Pradesh. Best wishes to you for a successful tenure.’’
The Congress was left non-existent in Andhra Pradesh and outgoing chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party was reduced to a mere 29 seats in the assembly. Naidu pulled out of the NDA last year after being denied special status for Andhra Pradesh.
In Odisha, Naveen Patnaik proved he can’t be written off just yet, securing a fifth term in office as chief minister by leading his Biju Janata Dal to victory. Although the BJP reduced his strength in the Lok Sabha to 13, from 20 in 2014, the 72-year-old carried his party to victory in the simultaneous assembly polls.
Modi, who showered praise on Patnaik for his handling of Cyclone Fani, greeted Patnaik. “Congratulations to Naveen Babu for yet another victory...’’
Modi’s own ally, Janata Dal (United) leader and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar emerged triumphant too, his party winning 16 of the 17 seats it contested in the state.
Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president MK Stalin was another big winner.
Not only did the DMK win 23 of the state’s 40 seats, but it helped its alliance partner Congress win eight in a state where it had abso