1. It was aggressive: Indian politics is a brutal place. It’s very difficult for chocolate politicians like Rahul Gandhi to succeed. These elections put all that into sharp contrast. Development politicians like AB Vajpayee, SM Krishna and Chandrababu Naidu failed to push their achievements in 2004 and lost.
Not so BJP’s winning Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi who pushed his plan aggressively like tough salesman. Modi’s personal skills. The Gujarat Model. Sonia Gandhi’s flaws. Rahul’s incompetence. UPA2’s debacle. Manmohan Singh’s ineptitude.
It was all pushed by Modi with great aggression.
2. It was focused: Did you ever see Modi dilly-dallying at any time during the campaign? On hindsight, the journey actually seems to have begun from when he won the Gujarat Assembly elections in December 2012.
What that means that it was actually a 16-month long campaign and it is difficult to stay focused for such a long time. Throughout this whole period Modi had a plan and he stuck to it perfectly.
3. He set lofty goals: There was a Twitter conspiracy theory about the 160 Club. That is a group of BJP leaders who would be quite happy to lead a weak NDA government if the BJP got 160 Lok Sabha seats.
Other BJP leaders wondered if they could cross Vajpayee’s high of 182. Others looked to breaching the magical barrier of 200. Anyone remember how most of India thought the BJP would struggle to beat even 200 a sort of glass ceiling?
In walked Modi and launched Mission272. It was bold and audacious and some found it downright arrogant and ridiculous. But it galvanized the rank and file of the party.
As the campaign progressed, 200 became 220 and then 240. Then in the middle of the campaign when it NDA272 seemed achievable, Modi suddenly started talking of 300 lotuses in his rallies.
He raised the bar even further and it worked.
4. The sheer numbers paled everyone: In the end Modi made close to 500 rallies, unprecedented in India and maybe even in the world, one will have to check record books. His 3D rallies and ChaiPeCharcha meant that figure was even higher in terms of reach.
5. Unprecedentedly widespread: It was not just the rallies. Modi was everywhere. The marketing was unprecedented. The ad campaign was on TVs and in newspapers. The Internet was the icing on the cake.
Modi was crowned PM in the social media long before the final polls. And then there was also the geographical reach. Modi went North, South, West, East and Northeast.
Usually politicians concentrate on the areas where they have a chance. Modi left nothing to chance and decided to explore every territory. He even went and campaigned in Amethi and broke the unwritten rule of not going into top opponent’s constituencies.
The results are there for all too see. Rahul’s victory margin was severely reduced and the BJP made gains in virgin territories.
6. Polarized parties, not voters: Everyone talked about how Modi polarized the campaign and the voters. That is totally incorrect. Parties like the Congress, RJD, SP, BSP etc polarized the electorate on caste and religious lines long before the BJP made any headway.
If at all anything, Modi consolidated the electorate.
He in fact ended up polarizing the parties. 25-30 small parties joined him. While detractors criticized the fact that most of these parties were not even given Lok Sabha tickets the biggest point missed was that they gained immense vote share.
Parties opposing Modi instead of selling themselves merely took to abusing Modi.
7. He filled the vacuum successfully: Finally it’s all about filling in the vacuum left by the total failure by the ruling government. In 1977 and 1989, the Opposition parties filled in this vacuum.
In 2009 LK Advani failed spectacularly to highlight the failures of UPA1 and got blasted at the hustings.
The key issue was countering the colossal failure of UPA2 and reaping the rich anti-incumbency wave.
That is something that parties like SP, BSP, DMK, RJD, AAP etc failed to do.
It is interesting to note that Jayalalitha, Mamata Banerjee and Naveen Patnaik are clearly anti-Congress and they performed the best along with the NDA which got 335 seats.
More from the author:
7 reasons why the AAP lost everywhere
Arvind Kejriwal: The boy who was afraid
Which was India’s ultimate 'wave' election?
6 reasons why the Congress may be finished
Seven positives of general elections 2014
Killing them softly with Twitter names
The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here.