Modi-Wave ?

If anyone believes that the BJP has the 2014 general elections in it's pockets, he/she is deeply mistaken. Despite the impressive sweep it took of the assembly elections in 4 states, 2014 is still 5 months ago and the public mood is, as always, fickle. A deeper look at the election results of 8th December proves that much.

BJP workers celebrating the recent Assembly Elections sweep
There are clear indications of the lack of a Modi wave, only a 'Modi effect.' In Delhi, where the BJP ended up as the single largest party in the assembly, the BJP's vote share fell to a historic low. This goes to prove that the lotus actually blossomed due to the undermining of the traditional Congress votebank by an AAP surge. Modi's role in the election was largely confined to setting the local BJP unit's house in order by parachuting Dr. Harsh Vardhan to the Chief Ministerial Candidate's post. Add to the recipe, a weary Sheila Dikshit facing 15 years worth of anti-incumbency, a scam-ridden Congress Government at the Center and lo! The BJP's wondrous performance is elucidated.

In Chhattisgarh, the vote share between both the parties is practically even with the state teetering on the verge of Congress rule even until the last minute. Modi's rallies here have seen thin attendance, in stark contrast to the humongous crowds thronging Modi's mass rallies in other areas. What worked for the BJP is Raman Singh's persona and his welfare schemes which were a huge hit with the lower castes (evidence - a near clean sweep by the BJP in seats reserved for Scheduled Castes).

The Modi effect manifested itself most clearly only in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. In Rajasthan, anti-incumbency coupled with the usual tendency of the electorate to vote out incumbents fueled the Modi and Raje inspired lotus cascade which reduced Congress to an also-ran. Looking at the huge vote-share gap between both the parties, a Congress revival in Rajasthan anytime soon seems extremely distant (but politics in India is as always, capricious).

In Madhya Pradesh (MP), the biggest factor working against the Congress was the fractious Madhya Pradesh unit which was literally split down to the center by two factions - one working for Scindia and one for Digvijay Singh. Chouhan's clean image and his welfare schemes did the trick, with the Modi effect easing the way for his resounding victory.

But what surprised me while analyzing these two states of MP and Rajasthan is the vote-share statistics. In the former despite the massive extent of the drubbing it received in terms of seats, the drop in the Congress vote-share is a mere 3% or so. But the BJP took home an increase of a mind-boggling 11%. Meanwhile in MP, Congress managed +4% in vote-share, the lotus rose by 7%. The only reasonable explanation is that the BJP has not been able to penetrate into the Congress base but attract new voters and those supporting independents and smaller parties.

My point here is that Modi has had an effect on the electorate. But whether this effect can manifest itself and convert into seats all across India is still in doubt. For example, where BJP does not have a strong base, even a 10% rise in vote-share can't assure many seats. BJP's victory in 2014 is still not a given. Modiji, Dilli dur ast!

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