Decades of identity- and coalition-politics in India got a drubbing on Friday with Narendra Damodardas Modi leading the BJP to a landslide victory in the country’s 16th parliamentary elections. The BJP’s majority of 282 seats — the NDA won 336 — the best showing ever by any party since 1984, put it firmly in the driver’s seat. The saffron party more than doubled its votes from 7.84 crore in 2009 to about 16.95 crore this time around. The popular support is about 80% more than the previous best support of about 9.43 crore votes garnered by the party under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee during the 1998 elections. “India has won! Bharat ki vijay. Achchhey din aane waale hain,” Modi said in his first remarks in a post on Twitter earlier in the day.
The Congress was routed and with 44 seats could not manage a double digit in any state and failed to win a single seat in seven states. This is barely eight seats more than that of a regional party, J Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK in Tamil Nadu. Such was the Congress’ showing that in Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi said he would resign as he had failed to deliver for the party.
India’s caste warriors like Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati were cut to size as were the Communists. While Lalu Prasad’s RJD won the same number of seats that it did in 2009, Mulayam Singh’s Samajwadi Party got just five seats versus the 21 in 2009 and Mayawati failed to get even a single seat compared with 21 in 2009. Even Bihar’s Nitish Kumar was trounced after his split with the BJP and managed just two seats versus 19 the last time around. The Communists were reduced to half their earlier presence.
Modi reached out to the opposition, seeking cooperation of all parties and leaders in running the nation and dedicated himself to “serve everyone equally”. In a thanksgiving speech to the electorate in Vadodara from where he won with a thumping majority of 5.7 lakh votes, he sought to allay the fears of some sections about his perceived majoritarian agenda. “For a government, no one is a favourite, nor is anyone an alien,” he asserted. “In a democracy, there are no enemies but only competitors. That competition ends with elections,” Modi, who led a high-voltage — and sometimes bitter — campaign, said in a pacifying tone.
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