Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was declared Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate eight months ago - on September 13, 2013. From that day till now, the country has witnessed a humongous campaign undertaken by the BJP to project the party as an alternative to the ‘corrupt’ and ‘inefficient’ Congress and Modi as the man of the moment, who alone could take the country out from the perceived inertia that it was in and bring it back on track.
The country also witnessed a relentless campaign from the man himself. Thus, whether one agrees with Modi’s style of campaigning and his statements or not, no one can deny the fact that the Gujarat CM was the trump card that the BJP had unleashed on the Opposition and he was also someone whose energy could not be matched by others, including Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi. At the same time, the Gujarat CM had also energized his party workers like never before.
So, by the time the campaigning for the 2014 General Elections got over on May 10, Modi had addressed “440 rallies and programmes in almost 5,800 locations, covering a distance of over 3 lakh kilometers”. In Modi`s own words, “the entire campaign was extensive, innovative and satisfying”. He also left no stone unturned to conquer two states – Uttar Pradesh and Bihar - that probably will make or break his dream to become the next PM. Modi knew that the key to Delhi lies in doing well in the Hindi heartland.
But now that it’s over and done, only one question remains – Will Modi’s tireless campaign, his taking on the Congress as well as the regional satraps, and his talk of development and ‘India First’ propel him to the top job in the country and send him to 7, RCR as the next Prime Minister of India? If one were to go by the confidence of the BJP, the party will be back in power at the Centre after a decade and the Congress will be handed a humiliating defeat by the public reeling under price rise and inflation.
Also, if one were to go by the so-called ‘Modi wave’, which has swept the nation as per the BJP, then come May 16 and we will see the UPA government replaced by the NDA government after 10 years. It would not be misplaced to say that the opponent parties, including the Congress, were probably taken aback by the large crowds that Modi’s rallies were drawing, numbering in lakhs, even in areas that were not said to be BJP strongholds. They were probably also taken aback by the fact that Modi had made the elections all about himself and was trying his level best to project himself as someone with a pan-India appeal.
Moreover, if exit polls can be trusted, they somewhat reveal as to how the electorate has voted. Most of the polls have predicted victory for NDA with BJP emerging as the single largest party and a massive defeat for the UPA. If this happens, then it’s bad news for the Congress and its vice president Rahul Gandhi as well as those like Mulayam Singh Yadav of Samajwadi Party, who nurture dreams of becoming the PM of India.
Though opponents did attack Modi for being ‘dictatorial, divisive, and polarizing’ and so on, he turned every barb that was thrown at him into his advantage. So, when Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyer said that Modi was only capable of selling tea at the AICC session, the Gujarat CM launched the Chai Pe Charcha and blasted the grand old party for being elitist. And he also turned all the criticism directed at him by Sonia or Rahul Gandhi on its head whether it was the zeher ki kheti comment or the ‘toffee model’ comment.
He also took on Nitish Kumar, Mamata Banerjee, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Naveen Patnaik and so on and urged people to give him 60 months so that he could serve them and show results. In fact, to drive home the point that he was not scared of a fight and meant business, he campaigned in his rival’s turf Amethi, breaking an unwritten code between political parties. Clearly for the BJP’s PM candidate nothing was off limits and it may just have had the desired impact on the electorate.
Modi knew that for him it was a do-or-die situation and he also knew that with the Congress facing a massive anti-incumbency, this was perhaps BJP’s best chance to come back from wilderness. No wonder, the 2014 Lok Sabha election is one of the bitterest polls being fought with all parties including the BJP attacking the other and even resorting to personal attacks. It also witnessed heated debate on communalism versus secularism and the raking-up of 2002 Gujarat riots innumerable times.
Thus, amidst all this, if Modi is able to become the Prime Minister of India, he will probably see it as a vindication of him after being vilified and hounded by the opponents as well as a section of media and society. He has said more than once that after Rajiv Gandhi, the people of India will send one of the strongest governments to Parliament in 2014.
Whether it happens or not will be revealed on the D-day, but in the interim period one can rejoice at the vibrant democracy of this huge nation and celebrate the power of that one vote which can alter destinies of political parties and politicians.