Indian general elections are extremely complex events and it is very difficult to analyse them effectively. On the surface of it, 2014 seems to be all about BJP’s Narendra Modi. You were either for him or against him.
However, scratch a bit on the surface and a different picture emerges.
There were those closely allying with Modi like the many small parties of Tamil Nadu who did not do well at all. On the other hand you have people like Mamata Banerjee who hurled the choicest of abusesbut did reasonably well.
So the only clear trend that emerges is that those who soundly opposed the Congress did well and those who didn’t suffered.
First of all look at the Congress party itself. There is no doubt that the Congress stock is at all all-time-low in the history of the party. That much was evident even before the first vote was cast. The worst case scenario was laid bare when the Congress ended up with a meagre 44 seats in the Lok Sabha, an unprecedented figure.
Among its allies, its best performer is the NCP with 6 seats. That is a disappointing showing for Maharashtra is a bastion for Sharad Pawar and the Congress. The NDA has got 28 seats at its peak in this State, but this time they stormed to 42.
In Bihar some expected a revival of Laloo Prasad Yadav’s RJD, but he got just 4 seats. Contrast this with the BJP’s partnersLok Jan Shakti Party and Rashtriya Lok Samata Party which together got 9 seats despite contesting so few constituencies.
In Jammu & Kashmir, Congress ally National Conference drew a blank.
The DMK may have walked out of the UPA, but it refused to go on an all-out attack against the Congress and its ambivalence resulted in it getting zero seats.
Those regularly bailing out the Congress in trust votes in the Lok Sabha also fared badly. The SP got just 5 seats and all of them went to the Mulayam Singh Yadav family. No other SP politician could win. And it may be noted that Mulayam holds two of those seats.
The biggest surprise was the BSP. That drew a total blank. Mayawati always saves the Congress during voting and maybe the electorate punished her for that. In fact the other Dalit party Apna Dal got 2/2 seats as they aligned themselves with the BJP and against the Congress.
Congress’ ideological soul mates also fared badly. The CPM got 9 seats and the CPI 1 seat in what was the Left’s worst show ever.
The AAP had captured India’s mindshare and may have captured a good amount of vote share but their decline started after they aligned with the Congress in New Delhi. They were lucky to escape with 4 seats in Punjab to save face.
Nitish Kumar’s decline started after he aligned himself with the Congress by seeking a special package from them and he got just two seats.
The only person who was in the twilight zone was Jagan Mohan Reddy. He may have emerged ahead in Andhra Pradesh. But his rival TDP tied up with the BJP it was curtains for him. Chandrababu Naidu is clearly more anti-Congress than Jagan.
Modi soundly attacked the Congress, Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul. He got rewarded with 282 seats.
The NDA got a handsome 336.
Mamata Banerjee may have been part of the UPA, but after leaving it made it a point to attack the Congress at every given chance. She clearly made out an anti-CPM and anti-Congress image of herself. Only later did she attack Modi.
Jayalalitha and Naveen Patnaik are the other anti-Congress politicians and they also emerged winners in their respective States.
The message of 2014 was clear.
Attack the Congress and reap Lok Sabha seats.
Don’t attack the Congress and perish.
In 1989, the entire Opposition got together and blasted the Congress. As a result the Janata Dal, the BJP and the Left all gained.
This time Modi played a brilliant game. He made it all about himself and got most of the parties to attack him thereby reaping the richest dividends of the anti-Congress wave himself!More from the author:
Meet India's four great dictators
5 bad ideas for Indian elections...
Pawar checkmates Sena yet again
7 mistakes of Uddhav Thackeray
Rajdeep Sardesai and the Rashomon effect
The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here.