Looking at the Lok Sabha elections, Congress President Sonia Gandhi fell on her face in 1999, squeezed through by default in 2004, stole Manmohan Singh's thunder in 2009 and decimated her own party in 2014. The less said about her son the better.
Most national leaders have been humiliated at the elections; however the focus always remains on their successes. Not so Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is the only major leader with a 100% record and despite that is still (a) on trial for some thing or the other and (b) analysed intensely and it is announced that he is on the verge of failure.
A look at the two hat-tricks he won against all odds…
1. 2002: In a way this was probably his toughest electoral victory. In 2001, the BJP was in the pits in Gujarat. It was losing bypolls and the earthquake ruined the State. In 2002, post-Godhra Modi had taken such a beating in the media that it seemed certain that he would be crushed at the hustings.
Modi launched a Gaurav Yatra that connected directly with the people. The result was a sensational victory. It was an important lesson for Modi and he did away middlemen like the media forever and focused directly on the people with rich results.
2. 2007: Here only one thing worked: His performance. There’s only so much you can do with publicity and boastful talk and rallies if you happen to be an incumbent. While Modi haters kept rubbishing all his work in Gujarat, the citizens of the State thought otherwise.
3. 2012: This was Modi’s first major risk and it showed what a high-stakes gambler he was. Not only was he seeking a difficult third term, but he turned it into a referendum for his national ambitions too.
Had he lost, then he may have had to let go of both Gujarat and India.
4. 2013: Before the elections he fought the BJP old guard who didn’t want him announced as campaign election chief. Had the BJP won still there were analysts out there who were desperate to show that there was no Modi wave.
However the sheer scale of victory shut everyone up. Rajasthan saw a four-fifths majority and Madhya Pradesh a two-thirds. Also a probable defeat in Chhattisgarh was converted to a victory. The people had no doubt who to attribute the victory to.
The media tried to focus on AAP’s success in New Delhi (even though BJP emerged as the single-largest party there too), however Arvind Kejriwal messed that up too and in the end it was Modi all the way with Mizoram being the sole exception.
5. Lok Sabha: The sheer ambition, scale and scope of Modi’s 2014 Lok Sabha campaign left everyone taken aback. Close to 500 rallies, Modi tried everything in the book from 3D to chai pe charcha.
The audacious gamble paid off. Modi bagged the best ever mandate for the BJP and the best by anyone in 30 years.
6. Maharashtra-Haryana: Haryana was a sensation. The BJP was a marginal player with no announced CM candidate and no solid network like the Congress and INLD. Yet it zoomed from 4 to 47 seats.
In Maharashtra also the BJP became the first non-Congress party to cross 100 seats ever and this was the first time when the Congress is nowhere in the State. All the action centres around the BJP, Shiv Sena and the NCP with the Congress being nothing but a mute spectator.
Modi haters tried to firmly focus on the fact that BJP missed a majority, but that didn’t succeed.
It is amazing how a man who has won 6/6 major elections in the last 13 years is always on trial for our TV channels and everything is described as a “Test for Modi”.
If he somehow totally fails next time, he will still have a 6/7 record, but you can be sure that his detractors will come down on him like a ton of bricks.
The mainstream media reaction is like a bowler taking six wickets in six balls and them asking, “But will he be hit for a 6 in the seventh ball?”
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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here.