UPA’s 10 Hits
Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi persuaded the party to go it alone in crucial states such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to take advantage of the political undercurrents in the party’s favour. This gave the party the space to build itself in these states. From just 9 seats in Uttar Pradesh in the last general election, the party’s tally had gone up to 21 as of 8pm.
Astute pre-poll alliances with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Maharashtra, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in Tamil Nadu, the National Conference in Jammu and Kashmir, and the Muslim League in Kerala helped the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) win crucial seats.
Saurabh Das / AP
Tremendous anti-incumbency wave against the Left state governments in Kerala and West Bengal worked to Congress’ advantage there.
In Andhra Pradesh, the Congress defied anti-incumbency to emerge as the single largest party in both the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.
Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot’s record of governance, combined with infighting within the Bharatiya Janta Party state unit, helped the Congress post major gains in the state.
Moods in contrast: (top) Supporters wave a Congress party flag and celebrate in New Delhi and (above) a man closes the gate leading to the central office of the Bharatiya Janata Party headquarters in the Capital. Gurinder Osan / AP
The Rs65,000 crore farm loan waiver, which benefited 36.88 million farmers, helped the Congress in rural areas. Among those benefiting from the scheme, 30.1 million were small and marginal farmers.
The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), launched in 2006, covering 200 districts across the country, and then extended to the whole of India, helped Congress’ prospects in rural areas. The scheme has benefited nearly 38 million households.
The Congress’ development strategy with its big social sector spending programmes under Bharat Nirman, a four-year, Rs1.76 trillion rural infrastructure development programme launched in 2005.
The party’s secular image, combined with the BJP’s attempt to polarize the electorate by trying to sell Hindutva again.
Fielding a larger number of prominent young faces in the Lok Sabha polls helped the Congress in tapping young adults in the 18-30 age group who constitute nearly 40% of the voting population.
Youth power: (L to R) Congress candidates Milind Deora, Priya Dutt and Sachin Pilot.
NDA’s 5 Misses
No real election issues, combined with negative campaigning by NDA leaders, harmed its prospects.
Rifts among senior BJP leaders, who were visibly engaged in a tussle among themselves, sent confusing signals to the electorate.
Its Hindutva baggage didn’t help as the BJP was unable to stitch alliances in states where it had a negligible presence.
Naveen Patnaik, who unexpectedly broke Biju Janata Dal’s 11-year alliance with the NDA just before the election, wiped out NDA’s chances in Orissa.
The BJP’s attempt to play up the Mumbai terror attacks as a political issue was perceived as divisive politics.