In 1977, Jayaprakash Narayan led a galaxy of leaders who fought a one-point campaign against the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Various parties fought under different symbols and won in the end to call themselves the Janata Party.
It was not a mandate for one man.
In 1984, the people of India gave a decisive mandate to the Congress party in sympathy of Indira’s assassination. Her son Rajiv Gandhi was the beneficiary. Had his late brother Sanjay been at the helm we could have got a similar result. Maybe even if there was any other prominent Congress leader.
If you leave out these two instances, then the only two people that the people of India voted for just one person are Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira. It could be arguably said that the 1951-52, 1957 and 1962 Lok Sabha elections were a vote for Nehru.
Similarly the people approved of Indira and she scraped through in 1967. She won against all odds fighting her own party in 1971 and then in 1980 made a glorious comeback. All the elections from 1989-2009 failed to see any party cross the half-way mark.
After 2009, all manner of people waxed eloquent on how coalitions and regional parties were here to stay and how the BJP was finished and would go the Janata Party and Janata Dal way.
However in walked Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi who had totally different ideas. He used his third consecutive Assembly victory to launch an audacious US Presidential-style Prime Ministerial bid.
His Sadbhavna fast immediately after was a reaching out to his detractors and his speech at the LSR College in New Delhi was a bid to capture the imagination of the youth of India. He had no trouble in winning over the industry soon after.
He used social media as a platform to launch what would later be described as a “Modi Wave”.
The man who was ridiculed by his opponents for not being fluent in English ultimately ended up having 4 million followers on Twitter, stellar for an Indian politician.
The youth. Social media. The industry. RSS workers. BJP workers. The middle class... One by one he started capturing constituencies much like a general wins battles. So much so that he ended by defeating the entire BJP leadership and they had no choice but to nominate him as their PM candidate.
After the fantastic showing of the BJP in the 2013 Assembly polls, Modi made sure that the momentum would stay with the BJP. That’s when he launched the most audacious stage of his PM bid.
Close to 500 rallies all across the country saw an Indian politician become a rock star. Called a North Indian party, Modi was a superhit in the West too. Dismissed as a North-West monsoon, Modi drew larger crowds in South India than outdid the regional leaders there.
Assam was the icing on the cake and Modi showed that he was the only leader with a pan-Indian appeal with no close second.
2014 was Modi’s election and nobody else’s. He takes full credit for this stunning victory.
Even till May 15, most of India was convinced that the BJP on its own would get around 50% seats and the NDA would get 60%. Only one exit poll was close to that figure but not many believed it.
Nobody in the history of India has crafted such a long-drawn superlative Lok Sabha campaign and has gotten away with it. The Congress has always emerged as either the leading party or come in second place never getting less than half of the first placed party.
This time the Congress in the Lok Sabha stands at less than one-fifth of the BJP!
The Congress was not drowned in the Modi Wave. It was annihilated in the Modi Tsunami.
The time has come to say it. In the 67-year history of Independent India, only three leaders have been able to get a decisive mandate on the basis of their name alone.
Nehru. Indira. And now Modi.
Modi has already become part of the top electoral troika of the land.
While expectations are high, one must say that Modi has a launch pad to go beyond both Nehru and Indira!
But for a start, he will have to match the economic reforms of PV Narasimha Rao and AB Vajpayee.
One step at a time!
Image: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters shout slogans to celebrate preliminary results of their party outside their party headquarters in New Delhi, India, Friday, May 16, 2014. BJP leader Narendra Modi and his party won national elections in a landslide Friday, preliminary results showed, driving the long-dominant Congress party out of power in the most commanding victory India has seen in more than a quarter century. Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's portrait is seen in the background. (AP)
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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here.