Rejecting all the candidates who contested the general polls from the state of Punjab, 58,754 voters pressed the None Of The Above (NOTA) button on the EVMs on the polling day, as per results declared by the Election Commission.
The general election of 2014 awarded the BJP its biggest-ever victory in the country. With more than 280 seats of its own, the party can form the government alone if it wanted to. This hasn't happened in the last 30 years, which is a clear sign of how decisive the mandate this time was. The BJP's jubilation can only be equaled by the Congress's disappointment, as it failed to reach even 50 seats on its own. The UPA was reduced to 60+ seats in total, with almost all its allies routed in their respective states.
A close analysis of the results presents some interesting patterns:
- Winning Uttar Pradesh: Modi's right-hand man Amit Shah has delivered in UP, and exceeded the party's expectation. Shah's industrious campaigning and shrewd caste calculations swung the entire state in the BJP's favour as the party managed to win 73 of the 80 seats. Amit Shah was also instrumental in discovering and aligning with strategic allies; one good example is the Apna Dal, which nobody had heard of but managed to grab two seats in its first-ever election. Also, strong regional parties such as BSP and SP were wiped off from the state.
- Every state matters: When Modi was busy outlining the campaigning strategy in the early days, he told the party workers that every state matters. Particular focus was on the Northeast, where Modi conducted quite a few rallies. As a result, the BJP was able to win nine seats from this rather isolated region. Given that the party had no base in the Northeast, this is nothing short of a miracle.
- Development, not Hindutva: For a party that built its foundation on Hindu pride, the BJP departed completely in 2014 and focused solely on development, job creation, and security. It was able to leverage this in the form of Narendra Modi, who enjoys an exceptional track record as the Chief Minister of Gujarat. Clearly, the people of India have shown that they've had enough of religion- and caste-based politics, and would like to focus on prosperity.
- Strong anti-Congress sentiment: But all credit does not go to Modi. The Congress also did its best in removing itself from the mind of the voters. Thanks for inept governance, broken foreign policy, and unchecked corruption, the party faced overall rejection, and got completey wiped off in Rajasthan, Delhi (0/7), Gujarat (0/26), Himachal Pradesh (0/4), etc., and almost wiped off in Madhya Pradesh (2/29), Uttar Pradesh (2/80), etc. One indicator is the state of Karnataka. Despite being a Congress stronghold, Karnataka gave 17 seats to the BJP and only 9 to the Congress.
- Record turnout: The 16th Lok Sabha witnessed the highest-ever turnount in the elections, that of 66.38%. In itself, the turnout was a clear sign of the people crying out for a change.
- Leadership: If Modi is seen as a strong leader by the public, Rahul Gandhi came across as a reluctant and ineffective leader who is not respected even within the party. This was evident by the vocal demands of the Congress workers to being Priyanka Gandhi to the fore. It wouldn't be unfair to say that the Congress sacrificed the 2014 election in trying to project Rahul Gandhi as a larger-than-life leader.
- Sensitive J&K: Even the state of Jammu & Kashmir, where the JKNC and Congress maintained an iron grip, was swept clean by the BJP (3) and the PDP (3). The likes of Farooq Abdullah and Ghulam Nabi Azad lost the contest, a clear sign that the public is tired of identity and caste politics.
- New inroads: More importantly, the BJP made new inroads into important states that have traditionally been though unassailable. One example is West Bengal, where although the TMC dominated (34/42), as expected, the BJP also bagged 2 seats. This means the BJP can become hopeful in the assembly elections.
- End of the Left: The CPI-M managed only two seats in West Bengal. In Kerala, the party got only 5 of the 20 seats. All in all, this signals the last days of the Left ideology in India, which means more progressive parties should command popularity in future.