India has spoken in a voice that is loud and clear. This is evident from the saffron on the political map of India that on Thursday stood out in the North, East, West and partially in the South.
With this election result, the BJP has moved beyond the Hindi heartland. It was only in the extreme South that the other colours showed up quite in contrast with the rest of the country, as it was only here that the Bharatiya Janata Party met with some resistance and was unable to make inroads. The results of the 2019 Lok Sabha election were evident early that morning, as within less than two hours of the counting of votes starting, trends began to indicate a victory for the National Democratic Alliance and the BJP. The Congress faltered to deceive and just managed to increase the number of seats it held in the Lok Sabha, but its incapability to swing the vote, places a major questionmark on the leadership.
On Thursday the exit polls were proven right. Bharatiya Janata Party crossed not just the 272 mark that gives them a simple majority in the Lok Sabha and five years at the helm of the Nation, but the party has done even better than it did in 2014. As leads and results kept pouring in, the figure of BJP wins oscillated between 299 and 300 and that of the National Democratic Alliance between 349 and 350. While for the NDA it is a slight drop of around three seats, for the BJP it is 17 seats better than 2014, when the Modi wave had first swept the country. The result now shows that the wave has not diminished, but has extended its reach even further, as the BJP makes inroads in West Bengal and grabs a larger share in Karnataka. It is only the southernmost states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, as well as Andhra Pradesh and Telangana that have resisted the wave, that othewise swamped the opposition.
The BJP victory was made possible by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who campaigned across the country, with the other party leaders staying focussed in their areas of influence. Congress too sent Rahul Gandhi to all the States, but his appeal lacked the charism that Modi offered. Congress offered a better economic programme than BJP, but the voters ultimately chose the party that offered them a sense of nationalist pride and national security. The terrorist attack at Pulwama and India’s retaliatory strike at Balakot were neatly packaged in the campaign to appeal to the people. And that is where the Congress lost. It was not able to reach out to the voters in the manner that the BJP was.
The BJP wave lapped the shores of Goa too. BJP may have lost the South Goa seat to the Congress, but it has managed to strengthen its alliance government in the State adding three MLAs to its tally, and rising to become the single largest party in the State Assembly. There will be no change in government in Goa for now. The by-poll victories ensure the stability of the government led by the BJP, as the party dependence on the allies reduces. The by-election, however, has shown that Goa does not turn its back on defectors. Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte who quit the Congress to join BJP and recontested, have won.
The BJP has fared better than it did in 2014. Though not all the results have been announced, even at the time of going to the press, the wave that started in 2014 and brought Modi to South Block, has strengthened in the past five years. This result has been an emphatic endorsement of the BJP and its policies. The debate on the divisive nature of some of the policies of the government that engulfed the nation in the runup to the poll have been swept aside by the wave of endorsement that the people of India have bestowed onto the BJP. It is for the party to now reciprocate that, as it prepares to usher in another term in office.