Ask anyone about just concluded general elections and two very commonly debated observations emerge out quite clearly. One that campaigning of this Lok Sabha polls will go down the history as ‘most abusive’ and targeted at just one man, Narendra Modi and not the government. Campaigning broadly was visible to have brought entire opposition on one page where they formed a ‘Grand Alliance’ called ‘Mahaghatbandhan’ to nail or stop Modi for which chosen few abuses, accusations and humiliations were also were showered on the Prime Minister for having stood against all odds especially corrupt and anti-nationals. Second, the elections were most articulately and perfectly conducted leaving no doubt about any unfair means where security forces besides polling staff under the dynamic planning of Election Commission of India (ECI) did put their best foot forward.
Cash worth crores was seized, perhaps for the first time candidates having gone overboard were banned from campaigning for a specific time period and political parties were kept at quite a distance from the booths to let voters exercise their franchise freely without any influence or dominance. The ECI also ensured that all booths are accessible to aged and handicap by getting ramps made at all places which were having stairs or were elevated from ground level. The world’s largest democracy has set an example before the globe that nothing is impossible and that India is heading towards becoming a power that needs no certificate from anyone in terms of its independent institutions like ECI which ensured free and fair polls.
Another best aspect of these polls is that unlike past when politicians used to lie, promise moon to voters or influence them and go scot-free, social media in unison with both print and electronic media played and replayed videos of past and present speeches of leaders enabling voters to compare their actions with their words. This, not only checked the ‘Netas’ who go unplugged but also exposed many who were on last minute “Temple Run”. Now that campaigning has come to an end and fate of candidates stand sealed in Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), exit polls have predicted massive victory for the BJP-led NDA giving it 300+ seats reducing UPA to quite a margin.
True or false but the fact remains that NDA-II is in making and that’s visible not from exit polls but a writing on the wall by political pundits whose acumen of seeing India elect it’s government since decades cannot be doubted. Shattered brutally the opposition which could not forge a strong bond despite Mamta Banerjee bringing them to a joint rally in Kolkata did whatever worst they could even by showering abuses on Narendra Modi in these polls. The same very opposition sensing slippery ground ahead has now switched over from ‘abuse mode’ to ‘accusing mode’ thereby targeting either ECI or EVMs. This is nothing new for the losers who usually resort to such face-savings.
Despite having released their manifesto, entire opposition comprising of 23 visibly shaken political parties of UPA fired salvos on Narendra Modi and never made voters understand how their coming to power will have an edge over NDA who according to them had failed during these five years. Their efforts to nail NDA were grounded the same day they took off their campaign on a wrong note. Unable to announce their candidate for the post of Prime Minister they continued to mislead voters, stayed mum over manifesto, tried to bank upon Gandhi scions who too failed, couldn’t come on same page openly, failed to hide their wrongs done in past and most seriously made unsuccessful attempts to polarise society on the basis of caste, creed, region and religion – an attempt harshly crushed by voters.
The campaigning this time was so poor in taste that ‘dictionary of love’ as described by Prime Minister Narendra Modi contained words or abuses like Neech, Bhasmasur, Khoon Ka Saudagar, Chai Walla, -Hitler, Jumlawalla and ChowkidarChor Hai which finally was returned with describing late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi as Corrupt No 1 only to silence opposition. Not only silence but opposition was forced to take a complete U-Turn with Rahul Gandhi the star campaigner saying and I quote, ‘the hate spread by Narendra Modi will be returned with Love’. This was the time when Modi spelled out names contained in what he termed as “Dictionary of Love”.
Having ran out of patience the NDA not only stamped Rajiv Gandhi as Corrupt Number 1 but also reminded nation of 1984 riots that still haunt Congress, Sharda Chit Fund scam that sets Mamta Banerjee on fire, fodder scam of JD for which Lalu Prasad Yadav is behind bars and huge wealth accumulated by Mayawati. This was supported by social media warriors and IT cell of BJP who ensured that every salvo opposition fired on Modi backfires with them digging out pictures of bygone era and posting same on social sites.
Rahul Gandhi’s proposals of giving people rupees 72K and waiving farmers loan if returned to power also couldn’t lure voters who, mind it, are having every fact and figure available to them in their handheld gadgets. Interestingly after failed slogan of ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ now opposition without even waiting for May 23 has jumped on to ‘Hacked EVM’ slogan making a mockery of itself. I am no one to guide opposition but fact remains that ‘nothing succeeds like success’ is an adage that best suits NDA-II in making. Another adage ‘Crying over spilt milk’ best suits opposition which instead of aiming in dark or indicting NDA should introspect.
Even when opposition is reluctant to introspect, visible reasons for NDA’s expected success are chosen few. The way Narendra Modi demonstrated his remorseless energy and communication skills In over 200 political rallies speaks of BJP’s strength in its star campaigner. BJP chief Amit Shah on the other hand skilfully distributed tickets and then planned campaigns in such a manner that entire length and breadth was covered in most well defined manner leaving opposition speckled. Biggest strength that BJP gained was from lackadaisical approach of Congress and its allies after winning three important Hindi heartland states. The Congress failed to maintain the kind of momentum it had shown during these assembly polls that gave an edge to NDA.
Modi obsessed opposition couldn’t formulate any common minimum agenda or project any leader from amongst them who could strengthen the bond between scattered leaders of about 23 parties. Sensing disillusioned opposition, NDA and its allies enhanced their attack on whosoever questioned Pulwama incident or Balakot attacks. These sensitive issues were not handled by opposition in a manner they should have which exposed them and annoyed voters. Most importantly while the BJP was focussing on about 8.4 crore first-time voters, Congress didn’t take them into confidence and banked upon caste based votes.
Now that results are to be announced in a couple of days, former President Pranab Mukherjee by has set at rest the speculations about EVMs at rest by praising Election Commission over its what he called as “perfect” handling of the LokSabha polls. This is going to prove as last nail in the coffin of opposition. Rubbishing Congress and other opposition allegations that ECI was bias, Pranab Mukherjee established that the ECI was serving well in this country saying that, ‘if democracy has succeeded, it’s largely due to the perfect conduct of elections by all Election Commissioners’. The last minute accusations of Rahul Gandhi that ECI gave up before Prime Minister NarendraModi, a level playing field was not given or BJP used army in polls will make no difference for the reason that opposition too didn’t leave any stone unturned and stooped as low as it could to woo voters or snub Modi. Since poll percentage this season was recorded at 67.3% which comes out to be 2/3rd, its people’s awaited verdict that will tell which way the wind blows on today. Better wait and watch!
(Views are personal)
(The author is a social activist)