India Votes – 2014 Lok Sabha – A Political Armageddon

Its been over a week now since Indian voters vented their anger against the ruling UPA dispensation for the economic mess that India finds itself in. A shellacking for the Congress was expected but the political armageddon that was in store for most political parties wasnt expected by even the most astute of observers. Well entrenched election arithmatic calculations, “stalwart” leaders losing, the coalition curse etc. were all consigned to the garbage bin. With the government being one with a thumping majority it can now put its head down and do some real work for the people of the country.  

This election threw many firsts.

  • First absolute majority government since 1984
  • First non – congress absolute majority government ever
  • First time that BSP has won 0 seats since its inception
  • First time that only the family members of both Congress & SP won seats in UP whereas others got blown away.
  • First time that an OBC will become India’s PM after Deve Gowda & (won by fortuituous means)
  • First time Congress failed to open account in 9 states (Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat, J&K, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Goa)
  • First time that BJP’s low ~ 31% vote share (lowest % vote share, however the voter base has expanded) on an All India level resulted in more than 50% seats in Parliament.

UP & Bihar saw a rout for the champions of Mandal politics who might have thought that they are here to stay. With ~ 50% of UP population belonging to some backward community or the other, BJP sweep there means it managed to attract atleast some proportion of the “backward” votes. The election arithmatic which was so abused by these political parties came to a naught in UP & Bihar. It almost backfired. With India’s “first past the post” system of parliamentary democracy, BJP just had to win more votes than the number 2 placed party / candidate. With a mad dash for the backward/minority vote, the vote got divided amongst the “secular” parties. BSP vote share of 19% lead to 0 seats for it. This can be explained by a surge in BJP vote share by 25% to 42% in UP which just swept the others away. BJP’s potent weapons of development (the now famed gujarat model) which also had an element of “word of mouth” publicity by the migrant labourers, appeal among its traditional upper caste voters, appeal among the majority community voters. Thus, the counter – polarisation of votes which subsumed the caste appeal swept the opposition away.

In Bihar, an oversmart move by CM Nitish Kumar who himself had his eyes set on the PM chair of breaking away from the BJP backfired badly for him. He had thought he had the backward / minority votes pocketed along with a dash of development he had achieved. The fact remains that Bihar under Nitish has progressed. But relatively it stands no match to the development in Gujarat. An increasingly aspirational voters meant they wanted more. Modi’s backward credentials (full credit to him that he didnt flash the backward card till the time he was forced to by Priyanka Gandhi) meant that the backward voters were rooting for him. Minority voters deserted the JDU and flocked to RJD / Congress alliance as they seemed a more credible force to stop BJP. Also, after almost 15 years of allying with the BJP, Nitish talk of breaking away due to “non – acceptibility” of PM candidate Modi seemed hilarious.

UPA leaders after the defeat seem to be still in denial mode saying that they “failed to communicate” their achievements. Well what was there left to communicate? The scams? or the inability of the government to deliver results? I mean this is purely self defeating and actually it implies that they doubt the collective wisdom and intelligence of a large section of the voters in India.  

Meanwhile with just 48 hours to go before the new government assumes charge, its time to walk the talk. India awaits with great hope.

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