The results of Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa, and Manipur clearly prove that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the unmatched, unrivaled leader of the country. Seen by many as a referendum on his style of functioning, especially on surgical strikes and demonetization, state elections have shown faith in him—or, to be precise, they have persisted in their faith in him.
Following is a list of takeaways from the poll results:
- Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi is born to lose. He will lose any race, even if he were the only runner. He is the bane of the grand old party—and Modi’s best enemy. With enemies like Rahul, Modi doesn’t need any friends. Like many other elections, Rahul lost UP too.
- But it was Amarinder Singh who won Punjab. And he would have done that anyway; had the Congress leadership not allowed him to lead the campaign as chief-ministerial candidate, he would have gone it alone. This proves that there are good, effective leaders in the Congress; if allowed to function independently, they can be winners.
- Arvind Kejriwal’s wagon has been badly hit by a speed-breaker. Though the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has succeeded in entering into another state as a force to reckon with, his hopes of winning a full-fledged state with police force have been dashed. His flights of fancy had become very audacious—Punjab, then Goa, Gujarat, Himachal… And then New Delhi in not-so-distant future. Dream dies first, daydreams faster.
- Demonetization did not hurt Modi. There were fears of GDP getting hit and millions of jobs getting lost, but this hasn’t affected the Prime Minister. He has managed to convince people that their hardships arising out of severe shortage of cash were for the greater of the nation.
- Jealousy sells. The sentiment that Modi capitalized on was Tum agar mujhako na chaaho to koi baat nahi/Tum kisi aur ko chaahogi to mushkil hogi… The poor approve of demonetization not because it helped them; on the contrary, it caused considerable inconvenience to them but it caused greater inconvenience to the rich. Or so they thought, and that mattered.
- Poverty sells. In fact, it is the all-time bestseller. From Indira Gandhi’s garibi hatao days to Modi’s recent speeches glorifying the poor, poverty generally ensures a good harvest (sometimes I wonder what would happen if and when poverty gets eradicated from India, but that’s another story).
- Rhetoric and emotions matter more than reason and facts in election campaigns in particular and politics in general.
- Nothing succeeds like sanctimony. Modi has failed to deliver on many of the promises he made during the run-up to the 2014 general elections: achhe din, punishing the corrupt, bringing back ill-gotten wealth stashed in overseas banks, two crore jobs a year, and so on. Yet, he has got a landslide in UP and Uttarkhand, primarily because of his pious pronouncements.
- Sanctimoniousness, already very high in Indian politics, will now soar new heights.
- Modi will now be more powerful than he was ever before. So brace for more shock announcements.