NEW DELHI : The historic performance of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the just-concluded 2019 general election has not just weakened the opposition against the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), but has also politically cemented the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

One of the striking features of the victory, which highlights the scale of the mandate for the BJP-led NDA is that there are 16 states and Union territories where the party alone has got nearly 50% or more vote share.

In states such as Maharashtra and Bihar, NDA got more than 50% of the votes polled.

The Congress, led by Rahul Gandhi, performed poorly across the Hindi heartland. A large part of BJP’s gain can be attributed to the near decimation of the Congress, particularly in states where there was a direct contest between the two parties. The only state where NDA could not breach the stronghold of the Congress was Punjab, where the latter is in government, with chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh as the incumbent.

“This is a clear mandate for the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Voters have unanimously made their choice in one voice that they want the BJP-led NDA to return to power," said a senior BJP leader, who was involved in the election strategy of the party. “While there was a clear choice for the politics of performance of the NDA, the people have also rejected the caste and religion-based alliance of the opposition."

Senior leaders of BJP claim that the party got 30% more votes this time than in the 2014 general election, when the total vote share of BJP was 31% with more than 170 million votes.

The number of seats that BJP has won with margins of more than 20 percentage points in key battleground states such as Bihar and Madhya Pradesh has also risen, according to data from howindialives.com (see chart).

(Ahmed Raza Khan/Mint)

The historic performance of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the just-concluded 2019 general election has not just weakened the opposition against the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), but has also politically cemented the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

One of the striking features of the victory, which highlights the scale of the mandate for the BJP-led NDA is that there are 16 states and Union territories where the party alone has got nearly 50% or more vote share.

In states such as Maharashtra and Bihar, NDA got more than 50% of the votes polled.

The Congress, led by Rahul Gandhi, performed poorly across the Hindi heartland. A large part of BJP’s gain can be attributed to the near decimation of the Congress, particularly in states where there was a direct contest between the two parties. The only state where NDA could not breach the stronghold of the Congress was Punjab, where the latter is in government, with chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh as the incumbent.

“This is a clear mandate for the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Voters have unanimously made their choice in one voice that they want the BJP-led NDA to return to power," said a senior BJP leader, who was involved in the election strategy of the party. “While there was a clear choice for the politics of performance of the NDA, the people have also rejected the caste and religion-based alliance of the opposition."

Senior leaders of BJP claim that the party got 30% more votes this time than in the 2014 general election, when the total vote share of BJP was 31% with more than 170 million votes.

The number of seats that BJP has won with margins of more than 20 percentage points in key battleground states such as Bihar and Madhya Pradesh has also risen, according to data from howindialives.com (see chart). The data shows that nationally too, while in 2014 BJP won 120 seats with a margin of above 20 percentage points, this figure shot up to 151 in this election.

People were so clear about supporting Modi as the prime minister that the Congress could not win a single seat in 17 states and Union territories put together. Gandhi had offered to resign taking responsibility for the poor performance, but the Congress Working Committee rejected it on Saturday.

“We cannot deny that it is a decisive mandate in favour of one party and hence the winning margins are what we are seeing," a senior Congress leader said, requesting anonymity. “In states such as Uttar Pradesh, the NDA benefited from the splitting of opposition votes. We did not expect to do so badly in direct-contest states, but as the BJP almost swept these states the voting margins too, were naturally high. Our party is looking into what went wrong and we are hopeful that remedial measures would be taken up soon."

The Congress also got an electoral jolt in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh, where BJP won most of the seats.

The electoral performance of the grand alliance between the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Uttar Pradesh was also no match for BJP.

The surge for BJP was visible in the result, as the party won 62 of the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh with a 49.6% vote share, while alliance partner Apna Dal won two seats. The combined vote share of SP and BSP was 37%, with SP getting 17.96% of the votes and BSP 19.26%. SP won 5 seats in the state and BSP 10.

Of the 80 seats, there were close contests between BJP and the grand alliance in only 13. BJP won nine of these seats and BSP four.

The political situation in Bihar was no different as NDA won 39 of the 40 seats with a 53.25% vote share, while the rival alliance of the Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal won one seat with a 23% vote share.

“This is almost unprecedented and enigmatic. What has happened is that voting decisions have been taken firmly in the favour of one party and one leader. Otherwise, how do you explain people from such different regions not connected to each other through any communication medium voting on such similar lines," said Manisha Priyam, a New Delhi-based political analyst. “This exhibits a qualitative shift in India’s electorate and the way they are understanding election messaging."

“These kinds of voting margins also blur the lines between what is a direct contest state and those where there are multiple contestants," she said. “Nonetheless, as far as the Congress is concerned, the voting margins tell the tale of complete decimation of the party."

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