Decoding the 2019 verdict: what went right for Modi and wrong for the opposition

People from different walks of life reflect on the results of the 2019 Lok Sabha election and tell Ashlin Mathew and Mohd Asim Khan on what they think of the outcome

Decoding the 2019 verdict:  what went right for Modi and wrong for the opposition

Ashlin Mathew & Mohd Asim Khan

When the going gets tough, the tough get going

Sudheendhra Kulkarni, Aide to India’s former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee

Decoding the 2019 verdict:  what went right for Modi and wrong for the opposition

Congratulations to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for winning a second term. The people of India have spoken, and they have spoken in favour of the BJP and its allies in the BJP.

The performance of the Congress is extremely disappointing. The party has to conduct honest introspection and self-correction on all aspects of its preparations for this election.

But one thing is certain: The Congress must stand firm on its ideology and mission. And, even though Rahul Gandhi as party chief should take responsibility for the setback Congress has suffered, the party must also stand firmly behind its young and highly committed president. The future is bright for the Congress. Ups and downs in elections are a part of life. But the brave are not disheartened by a defeat; they simply get ready to serve the nation with renewed dedication.

Congress needs tough changes and bold renewal

G Mohan Gopal, Leading Jurist

Decoding the 2019 verdict:  what went right for Modi and wrong for the opposition

The Congress must decide clearly what it stands for. The Constitution of the Congress says it stands for socialism, secularism, democracy, liberty and equality. But its 2019 Manifesto does not mention the words “socialism” and “secularism” even once!

If it is to find a place in Indian politics, the Congress must firmly re-occupy the vacant social democratic space in national politics based on social democracy, socialism, secularism, liberty and equality.

The Congress needs to decide who it represents. No voter will vote for a party that says it will represent ‘everyone’. Voters only vote for parties that represent them, exclusively and reliably.

The Congress is paying the price for failing to do a thorough, honest, open and transparent post-mortem of its 2014 defeat. The Congress seems to have lost its appetite for tough change and bold renewal.

Voters were clear headed

BRP Bhaskar, Political Commentator

Decoding the 2019 verdict:  what went right for Modi and wrong for the opposition

I get the impression that the voters were conscious of the fact they were voting for a party which could form a government at the centre. The BJP has been able to impress upon more people that it is in a better position to form the government. The BJP has slightly improved its 2014 tally as has the Congress. But, the Congress has been wiped out from several states. The people who have suffered the most are the regional parties. It is because the people of the country did not see them capable of providing a stable government at the Centre, which was what Modi kept stating during his campaign.

The results in Odisha prove this. For the Assembly elections, they voted for the BJD, but for Lok Sabha, they voted for the BJP. This sends a clear message that the citizens of the state want Naveen Patnaik to continue in Odisha, but did not think the party would be a part of a central government. Maybe, if the BJD had aligned with either the Congress or the BJP, they might have done better.

Kerala also represents this trend. All those who did not want the BJP to come back at the Centre rejected the Left decisively. They did not think that the Left could play any role in forming a central government.

Opposition parties failed to make use of the weaknesses of the first Modi-led government. Modi overcame it by shifting focus to the issue of nationalism. Economy doesn’t seem to be an issue, neither does unemployment. We have not changed much from 2014. One can only see if Modi 2 will be any different. Will Modi be receptive to criticism? It will depend on how assertive BJP’s allies are.

Can majoritarianism be countered ?

Prof Apoorvanand Jha, Political Commentator

Decoding the 2019 verdict:  what went right for Modi and wrong for the opposition

Call it ultra-nationalism or majoritarianism, such politics has certainly won. Majoritarianism has won. We can see that barring Kerala and Tamil Nadu, all the states are in the grip of this phenomenon.

People like me, and many others, believed that we would be able to save the diversity and complexity of this country from majoritarianism. Now that confidence lies shattered. Once majoritarian politics enters, it demolishes everything.

I am not sure what kind of fight could have stopped this phenomenon. I don’t know how one can counter majoritarianism.

Division wins over vision

Apsara Reddy, National General Secretary, All India Mahila Congress

Decoding the 2019 verdict:  what went right for Modi and wrong for the opposition

It’s a day for us to introspect on how India voted. A divisionary ideology triumphed over a visionary ideology. The sensational and insensitive narratives too got far more prime time than a fair scheme like the NYAY.

For us, as a country, it’s a tide of sorts. We have begun to vote for issues that perhaps override unemployment, economy and women’s safety. The surge of the nationalist voter is clearly seen in the victory of those like Pragya Thakur. India’s young voter is patriotic and BJP has appealed to that sentiment successfully.

The BJP strategy, coupled with unbridled attempts to deviate from burning issues, worked for them. As a strategy, their bravado and hoodwinking key issues worked. Besides, the national security narrative, selectively presented, cut ice as opposed to the fair play and sensitivity displayed by Rahul Gandhi ji.

Some of the key states for us where we expected better numbers we must look deeply and introspect about the choices we made and chances we took. I am sure this will only enthuse the Congress worker to continue to raise their voices for the oppressed and the sidelined.

I hope in this tenure, the BJP will not allow the free fall of credible institutions by mismanagement. This is surely a moment of awakening for all of us. Bring on the next 5 years.

The opposition was actually divided

Praveen Rai, Political Analyst, Centre for Study of Developing Societies (CSDS)

Decoding the 2019 verdict:  what went right for Modi and wrong for the opposition

The result of these elections is open and shut case. It has proven that the Modi wave was intact. Also, the huge mandate shows that the floating voters went with the BJP this time. I think the Balakot air strike rung with the voters.

At the same time, I would also give credit to PM Narendra Modi’s governance and his various welfare schemes. Electrification of villages across the country is one such thing that instantly comes to the mind. Now, the Modi government will have to build on the foundations that it laid in the last five years.

Of course, there were incidents of lynching and hate crimes which are certainly unfortunate.

Speaking of opposition, it failed to put up a united front. If not a consensus prime ministerial face against Narendra Modi, they should have at least agreed to a common minimum programme. They could have backed the NYAY plank of the Congress but didn’t.

Congress ought to have anointed Pilot and Scindia in December

Prof Sandeep Shastri, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Jain University, Bengaluru

Decoding the 2019 verdict:  what went right for Modi and wrong for the opposition

The fact that the UPA has not made it to a three-digit figure and the Congress is stuck at around 50 seats shows that the Congress has not been able to capitalise on the victories in state Assembly elections in MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh just a few months back. Punjab is the only state in north India where the Congress could win seats. The party needs to seriously introspect on this.

PM Narendra Modi and the BJP successfully transformed these elections into a presidential type of contest. The candidates sought votes in the name of Modi and not on their performance. The BJP propagated that there was no leader against Modi. Success is not always based on the realities but also on perception.

The Congress, being the largest national party in the opposition, has to fill that void. But how? I think the grand old party needs to cultivate and empower regional leaders. In Rajasthan and MP, Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia respectively emerged as promising leaders, but they were relegated to the second position when it came to occupying the Chief Minister’s office. Such reluctance in reposing full faith in young emerging leaders will not help.

The regional parties, however, held their own. It is largely regional parties such as Trinamool Congress in West Bengal, DMK in Tamil Nadu, Biju Janata Dal in Odisha and Telangana Rashtra Samithi in Telangana that have challenged the BJP. No doubt, the BJP has made inroads into these states but still the regional parties have got greater number of seats.

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Published: 25 May 2019, 6:00 PM