The General Elections in India which seemed at times to be going on forever are finally over. The elections to select members for the Lower House of Parliament or Lok Sabha were held over 7 phases spread over 39 days from April 11 to May 19. Counting day was on May 23. Thanks to the electronic media, we got virtually a ball by ball account of the results as they came in, as we would in a T20 match in the IPL. The bottom line: a resounding victory for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP.)
Quite contrary to the expectations of people who thought these elections would be a close finish, the BJP romped home with a runaway victory. The numbers speak for themselves. Out of the 542 Lok Sabha seats, 303 went to the BJP alone. With his allies in the National Democratic Alliance ( NDA, ) Prime Minister Modi got as many as 65 % of the Lok Sabha seats 353/542. The Congress under Rahul Gandhi could win only 52 seats. An improvement of 8 over the 44 they got in the last General elections in 2014. Their alliance the UPA got just 92 seats. Such was the magnitude of the defeat.
BJP’s election slogan of “Phir Ek Baar Modi Sarkaar” had come true and how!!
There is so much to write about in these General Elections. A few important points:
- In a number of States, the BJP got over 50 % of the votes. They made a clean sweep in 10 states. The overall vote share for the BJP was 37.3 % .
- The Congress which was the biggest party in the opposition after the 2014 General Elections did not get a single seat in many states.Their 52 seats came from 18 states and Union Territories. Their highest share was 15 from Kerala, followed by 8 each from Punjab and Tamilnadu. Their overall vote share at a national level was about 19.6 % . Nine former Chief Ministers lost the elections!!
- The “Mahagathbandhan” formed by the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party was supposed to be a force to be reckoned with in the key State of Uttar Pradesh because of the caste equations at play. UP has traditionally been a crucial state as it sends 80 Members of Parliament, the largest contingent by far in India. Much to the delight of the BJP supporters, their party won as many as 63 seats in UP as against just 5 won by the SP and 10 won by the BSP.
- Many big names were defeated in this election. Everyone thought Rahul Gandhi was unbeatable in Amethi often written as the “pocket borough” of the Gandhis by the English newspapers over the decades. After all he has represented this constituency in UP for the last 15 years. This time he was trounced by BJP’s Smriti Irani by over 55,000 votes. In fact, he conceded defeat even as the counting of the last few rounds was in progress.
- Other bigwigs to lose the elections were: JD (S) Supremo and former Prime Minister, H D Devegowda, who lost from Tumkuru in Karnataka, a seat he was fancied to win very easily; Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress veteran, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and MP from Gulbarga for the last two terms lost by over 95,000 votes to the BJP candidate; Digvijay Singh of the Congress, a former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, who once said the RSS was behind the 26/11 terror strike in Mumbai in 2008, and supported the concept of “Hindu terror” lost to Sadhvi Pragya Thakur by over 3.6 lakh votes!!
- In Gujarat, and Rajasthan, the BJP and its allies won all the seats, 26 in Gujarat and 25 in Rajasthan. In Karnataka, the BJP swept 25 out of 28 Lok Sabha seats, leaving the Congress and the JD ( S) with 1 each.
- The BJP won 18 out of 42 seats in West Bengal, something that most pundits would not have thought possible this year.
- Overall, the Communists ( CPI and CPM) got only 5 Lok Sabha seats in 2019. And to think they had 63 seats in 2004.!
The election results have left the Congress confused. Latest reports say that Rahul Gandhi is adamant that he will step down as Congress President. Other Congress leaders are trying to persuade him to reconsider his decision fearing the Congress may disintegrate without a Nehru-Gandhi at the helm.
The BJP and its allies, in the meantime, are busy preparing for Prime Minster Narendra Modi’s second term. He has laid a solid foundation for his plans for the progress of India in the 2014-19 term. We would expect him to build on them in this his second term.