No matter what Prime Minister Narendra Modi does, his haters will catch on to some flimsy straw and pretend it is a sword and try to flog him mercilessly. While it always falls flat in the end, it ends up occupying endless articles, TV bytes and Internet debates.
After May 16, Modi was called a 31% PM. By saying this repeatedly, his haters implied that 69% of India has rejected him outright.
Why that is a fallacy…
1. It is 38.5% not 31%
In the 2000 Presidential elections, George W Bush got 47.9% of America’s votes while Al Gore got a higher 48.4%. Bush still made President. That’s the way a modern democracy works. Take it or leave it. In a two-horse race sometimes it becomes difficult to get 50% and you can come to power after polling lesser votes.
What of a three-horse race? A country that happens to be a vibrant multi-party democracy? Then getting 35% may be difficult and 40% could be fantastic.
At the time of the LS polls, almost half of the major States were ruled by non-Congress non-BJP CMs:The regional parties for a formidable virtual third party.
So though the BJP and Congress are the two major national parties, a whole host of regional parties have fragmented the electorate at the regional level. It is in this context you have to realize that a good 38.5% of the Indian electorate voted for the NDA and Modi as PM.
In a highly fragmented electorate like India, 38.5% could be dubbed as a landslide.
In the 1984 general elections, the Congress got a whopping 75% Lok Sabha seats. However their popular vote share was a much lower 49.1%.
Can we say that 50.9% of India rejected the Congress in 1984? That’s a highly ridiculous argument.
2. The exclusive 200 million club
The 2008 US Presidential elections reached a new high, when close to 70 million people voted for Barack Obama. Did you know that close to 213 million people voted for the NDA in 2014?
Since it was clearly a presidential style election revolving around Modi and voters of all NDA partners knew they were voting for him as PM, it could actually be called a clear mandate for him.
Instead of celebrating the fact that Modi became the first head of state in the history of democracy to get elected after the blessings of more than 200 million people, a few dozen intellectuals, editors and activists are rubbishing these very millions.
Put another way, the number of people who voted for Modi is greater than the entire population of Brazil.
Either way Modi is the most popular leader in the by a mile and there is no reason for a debate.
3. The tally actually stands at 282-44
Take any democracy in the world. If the first party has 282 seats and the second party 44 seats, then nobody will question the mandate of the first party. The differences are far too great.
A party has a right to rule if it has more than 50% seats and if it has even 1 more seat than the party than comes second. And a situation where the first party has a whopping six times as many seats as the second party?
4. 2004&1996were the worst mandates ever
In 2004, the NDA won 181 seats and the Congress party won 145 seats (the UPA didn’t exist at that time) and yet all the parties got together to make sure that the BJP wouldn’t form the government.
All the parties should at least be clear that they hate the BJP and love the Congress. This secular-communal talk is pure hogwash because maximum communal riots have occurred under Congress rule and they are master appeasers of the minority communities.
You are communal whether you oppose the minorities or appease them.
The 1996 elections were even more shameful. The BJP had 161 seats and the Janata Dal had an abysmal 46 seats. Yet the 46-seat-wallahs got to form the government.
P.S. Nobody called Manmohan Singh the 26% PM from 2004-09.
5. The elite and popular triumvirate
Only three leaders have got a majority Lok Sabha mandate in a general election on their own merit. Jawaharlal Nehru. Indira Gandhi. Modi. That’s it.
The 1984 election was an Indira assassination sympathy wave and she proved that in both life and death she could give the Congress party a majority. The 1977 elections were also fought under different parties who officially became the Janata Party only after the elections.
Here is the highest mandate won by different leadersin terms of Lok Sabha seats got for their respective parties apart from the above mentioned three…
Manmohan: 206. (2009)
Rajiv: 197. (1989)*
AB Vajpayee: 182. (1998/9)
Sonia Gandhi: 145. (2004)
Sitaram Kesri: 141. (1998)
PV Narasimha Rao: 140. (1996)
LK Advani: 116. (2009)
Rahul Gandhi: 44. (2014)
(Note: That’s not counting the 1991 vote,which was actually an assassination sympathy wave.)
So when someone delivers 282 seats in what is the first majority government in 30 years in light of the above top leaders, it makes you suspect what the motives of the 31% club are.
The 31% thing is not a theory or a myth or a spin but an outrageous lie.
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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here.