If the Lok Sabha elections were marked by anti-incumbency,pro-incumbency was the keynote of the 2019 elections as BJP decimated the opposition. The BJP juggernaut rolled across its bastions in the north and west of the country – in bellwether state UP its vote share shot up from 42.6 percent in 2014 to 49.5 percent, negating the impact of SP, BSP and RLD joining hands – while making significant incursions into the south (Karnataka, Telangana) and east (Bengal, Odisha). At last count BJP had wins/leads in 303 seats and its allies in 48 seats, giving NDA a thumping majority in the Lok Sabha.
What accounts for the shift from anti-incumbency in 2014 to pro-incumbency in 2019? It’s not as if the economy has changed much. On the positive side inflation was managed well during NDA’S first term (but faces upward pressure now). One could attribute BJP’S success to better administration of welfare schemes, the Balakot strikes which retaliated against Pakistan’s sponsorship of terror groups, and PM’s Modi personal popularity. But while all these factors may have played a role they do not, even in combination satisfactory account for the magnitude of BJP’S sweeping victory.
It’s possible some deep structural shifts are taking place in the Indian polity. The so-called “secular” model many other parties have followed is to work with conservative Muslim clerics to secure the Muslim vote, and then a on specific castes as each party’s USP, relying on post-mandal social engineering. Thus SP is the party of Yadavs, BSP of Jatavs and so on.
This model, however, offers plenty of opportunity for countrmobilisation. BJP has moved into his vacuum swiftly and effectively. It may have capitalised, for example, on the unseen backlash to aggressive expension of caste reservations, cementing its support among upper caste with the EWS quota.
Hindu upper castes would comprise a solid bloc that can neutralize the Muslim vote (which , in any case , is split among several parties). Along side , Modi also project a different kind of backward caste identity that’s fluid aspirational , upwardly mobile and less dependent on specific caste networks . as smartphones spread and cities expend , this style may appeal more to hindu lower caste.
BJP alone has around 300 Lok Sabha seats which gives it the power to override even its allies in the next govt. With great power, however, must come great responsibility. The Indian polity is dynamic and the voter can never be taken for granted. Now that BJP has acquired enough confidence in govt it must utilize the first 100 days of its second tenure to launch the transformative leave that the economy badly needs – more so since global headwinds are growing – even as its fully respects constitutionals values in letter and in spirits. BJP started on the right , reformist note into 2014 but veered off track following congress accusations of it being anti-poor, lurching letter into radical socialist experiments such as demonetization.
“Factor” markets of land, labour and capital need market – oriented reform for efficient allocation of resources; so do agriculture and education. At the same time, the state must step in and provide quality inputs where the market can’t provide these (such as health care ,basic education ).Unproductive subsides must be cut and the autonomy of public institution respected and expanded. Such reforms,whose objective is to ramp up india’s global competitiveness, may be painful at the beginning. But BJP HAS the mandate and trust of the people, and must be bold enough to push them through. Apowerhouse conomy and its spinoff benefits will, in turn, [yield a political bonanza for BJP by the time the next general electioncome round in 2024.