It's all about Modi, again

It's all about Modi, again

If the exit poll results turn out to be correct, Narendra Modi’s decision to make the 2019 election all about Narendra Modi has worked like a charm.

The prime minister’s personal popularity appears to be the single biggest factor powering the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance to a 2014-like hands down victory, underlining the efficacy of the “Modi hai to Mumkin hai” slogan.

Also read: Exit Polls Live | NDA may score 280-300 seats

NDTV’s poll of polls showed the possibility of a Modi wave in much of North India, including Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, where the party had lost Assembly elections held in late 2018. In Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP was slated to face a tough challenge from the SP-BSP mahagathbandhan, the party was taking a knock but not enough to deny it another shot at power. The BJP was also seen to be winning Haryana. Take these states one by one. In Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, voters were clearly unhappy enough with the BJP to boot it out in the Assembly elections.

In Uttar Pradesh, they had to put up with a strange choice of CM, Yogi Adityanath, and punished the saffron party in bypoll after bypoll. In Haryana, again, they had to contend with a CM who was widely seen as underperforming. 

Still, they seem to have voted overwhelmingly for Modi, as overwhelmingly as in 2014. It’s almost as if nothing had changed. And yet, the only constant has been Modi.

The polls also suggest that in addition to holding on to North India, the BJP may be expanding its footprint in the East, with the party challenging the TMC in Bengal and the BJD in Odisha. Along with its tally in Assam as well as in other states, the BJP’s tally in the East and the Northeast would spell a more secular spread of Modi’s appeal.

The only region to have somewhat put up a resistance to Modi’s charms, is the South. Other than Karnataka, where the BJP and its Modi-centric campaign was shown as sweeping the state — partly due to unseemly spats within the ruling JD (S)-Congress coalition— the Left in Kerala and strong regional parties in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana seem to have kept Modi out. This is clearly a project for the next term, if Modi returns.

The seven-phase election has been particularly bitter, with the last four phases of polling seeing acrimonious personal exchanges between Modi and Opposition leaders such as Congress’ Rahul Gandhi, TMC’s Mamata Banerjee and BSP’s Mayawati. All of this, along with the Balakot strikes conducted by the Modi administration, seem to have strengthened the impression among voters that there was only one issue in the campaign, namely Narendra Modi.

The referendum style campaign, if it actually manages to garner the number of seats and vote share projected by the polls, will leave a slew of Opposition parties gasping for breath.