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The clamour from the assembly elections in five states hasn’t died down yet, and the next battle’s already begun. Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted a huge ‘road-show’ in Ahmedabad on Friday. He had just celebrated ‘Vijay Diwas’ with BJP workers at the party headquarters the day before. Arvind Kejriwal, buoyed by his Aam Aadmi Party’s resounding victory in Punjab, will visit the state soon. Following Lucknow, Ahmedabad is set to become the epicentre of political activity. Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh will hold elections at the end of the year.

Nobody knows what the future holds, but one thing is certain today: despite the initial difficulties, the ‘Modi magic’ continues. Assembly elections were conducted in Maharashtra, Jharkhand, and Haryana after his second victory for Delhi. His party was defeated in all three states. In Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena broke away from the BJP and joined hands with its traditional opponents to form the government. In Jharkhand, the BJP was not only defeated, but Chief Minister Raghuvar Das also lost. Haryana ended up with a hung assembly. The BJP had no choice but to ally with Dushyant Chautala’s Jannayak Janata Party. Forming a government with such groups is usually a losing proposition, but there was no other choice.

Later elections in Bihar and West Bengal revealed that while voters favour Narendra Modi for Prime Minister, this chemistry does not hold up in state elections. It’s no surprise that it encouraged Akhilesh Yadav, who formed an alliance with some of his former foes. The Congress also appointed Charanjit Singh Channi as Punjab’s Chief Minister, assuming that it would automatically receive more than 30% of Dalit votes. It was treating Uttarakhand and Goa as though they were ancestral lands. In Manipur, too, the country’s oldest political party saw promising prospects. But what happened was just the opposite. Yogi was able to defy all odds and reclaim power in UP with a two-thirds majority. Not only that, the BJP was able to form the government in Goa, Manipur, and Uttarakhand once again. It was the miracle of Modi’s face, the amazing organisational ability of the party and ‘good administration.’ These achievements helped to heal the scars of the past. It also shows that the saffron party can learn from its errors. Victory, like defeat, has its own set of lessons. Let us return to Uttar Pradesh to better comprehend these lessons.

Despite a defeat, Akhilesh Yadav was able to raise his seats and vote percentage. His coalition also gave some scars to BJP, which will continue to ooze for a long time. One such wound is the defeat of Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya from Sirathu. It will be interesting to observe if Akhilesh is capable of carrying out his role as the opposition’s leader. His first challenge would be to keep this odd alliance together. Senior leaders from practically every backward community are part of the partnership. If he can keep the alliance together, the BJP would have a difficult time keeping its 62 Lok Sabha MPs in the next general election, but Akhilesh Yadav will have to struggle for long, both in the House and on the streets, to do so. He has to broaden his caste equations network also. In addition, effective protest issues must be identified. These elections have sent a clear message: Modi and Yogi have ‘bulldozed’ the old caste equations. Without constant battle and effective issues, dealing with this combination is impossible.

Is Akhilesh Yadav ready for such a war?

When it comes to caste equations, it’s impossible to overlook Mayawati. She has long been a champion of caste manipulation, but her ‘vote bank’ has suffered a deadly dent of nearly 10% for the first time. She told reporters the day after the results that she had been a victim of the BJP’s ‘B-team’ propaganda. Mayawati can try to save face in this way if she likes, but the truth is that her core vote bank, the Jatavs, have begun to raise this issue that she offers tickets to the wealthy in exchange for their votes. Mayawati is currently going through a hard patch. Modi’s welfare measures have shattered her enchantment. At present, her comeback appears to be difficult but she has surprised many times in the past. The growth of the AAP needs to be discussed here. People mocked him ten years ago when Kejriwal established his new party, but he became the Chief Minister of Delhi in a matter of months. He improved hospitals. Clinics in Mohalla have opened. School standards were raised, and power and water bills were reduced. Arvind Kejriwal won three elections, one after the other, right under the nose of the central government. He, like Modi, is not a leader of a specific caste.

Is a confrontation between Modi and Kejriwal on the cards in the next five years? For early indications of the answer to this issue, it would be wiser to wait until the end of the year.

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