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12 reasons why Modi-Shah’s BJP got the better of Congress & everyone else

Modi govt was much more efficient in delivering welfare programmes than UPA & kept inflation down. Congress counter of ‘chor’ Modi bombed.

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Here are a dozen quick takeaways from me on the 2019 verdict as the trends become clear:

1. The BJP and the Congress fought with fundamentally different strategies. The BJP wanted to make it a national presidential-style contest. The Congress and its allies tried to make it 543 individual elections. They failed. The BJP succeeded spectacularly in making it a presidential election, and with only one candidate: Narendra Modi.

2. The Congress walked into the trap deeper. It didn’t bother offering even a notional alternative, and also decided to focus its attack entirely on Modi. It is hard to fight to your adversary’s strength. It can also be foolhardy if you do not have a convincing message. Of the one-and-a-half planks the Congress built its counter on, Chowkidar Chor Hai (Modi is corrupt) and Rafale (the half) failed to excite anyone except the committed Congress voter. Confusing the “chor” echo at Rahul’s rallies with a change in the larger public mood, especially when you begin with a 10-15 per cent negative gap from 2014, is like taking retweets for votes.


Also read: Rahul Gandhi must decide if Congress is a European NGO or a party in nationalist India


3. “Love and tolerance” sound wonderful and heart-warming, but in a congregation of the faithful. Voters need a positive offering. For Congress-Rahul, it was NYAY. It was too complex, too late. In 10 weeks of travels across India during the campaign, I did not find one likely beneficiary who had even heard of it. Happens when you have a scheme designed with incredible clumsiness — happens also when you ask French-Left economists to game the poorest Indian voter. Data shows that nearly half the voters did indeed hear about NYAY, but they were the upper half. So those who were to get NYAY knew nothing about it. Those who were to pay for it mostly did. You can add it up.

4. Amit Shah and Narendra Modi (putting Shah first is deliberate) did an enormously better job of building alliances. To be fair, the front-runner is a stronger magnet. But they also showed much greater large-heartedness. The clearest example is the space given to Nitish Kumar in Bihar. Compare it with the Congress cussedness in UP, Delhi and Haryana. In short, the BJP built alliances looking at the future, the Congress stayed obsessed with its glorious past.


Also read: Amit Shah has more than rattled Mamata Banerjee in Bengal


5. With the exception of Kerala and Punjab, the BJP march has only been stopped by regional parties. This includes Tamil Nadu. Kerala is early days for the BJP, though the devastation of the Left is opening up that space. In Punjab, you see a stark truth play out that Congress usually detests: A state leader who can win by himself, even stop a wave. This makes the BJP’s strategy easy: Target directly the states where the Congress is the main rival. Go sign up regional forces elsewhere. Watch out for YSRCP in Andhra and KCR in Telangana going ahead. Naveen Patnaik in Odisha is a deal already half done.

6. You can blame the media with much justification. The BJP has used political power brilliantly to build or buy its own media, and to put down what remains, or aspired to remain, objective. But, having accepted that, what story did the Congress offer? Even Rahul’s big media interviews came in the last phases of the polls. To anybody watching this closely, it was evident that the Congress was blundering into delusion over impact on Twitter and applause of the faithful.


To get the latest updates on the Lok Sabha election results, click here


7. Modi critics will never give him the credit for it, but his government was incredibly efficient at the delivery of key welfare programmes. I had written two articles recently: One on the five areas on the economy/infrastructure where BJP had done phenomenally better than UPA-2, and the second on the four reasons that put it ahead of the competition. Two among these are the electoral equivalent of killer apps: A pan-national upper caste vote bank that counters lower-caste/minority combinations and very low inflation, which anaesthetised joblessness and individual economic distress in the short term.

8. In the past five years, the Congress party’s high point wasn’t so much its wins in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan as running Modi so close in Gujarat in the winter of 2017. It made two things evident: One, that rural and farmer distress were hurting BJP voters. And two, that since Modi had no quick fixes, he would switch to a three-point campaign of nationalism, Hinduism and corruption-busting, with the first as the central prong. This is where his challengers failed. I can write a whole article on this and may be some of you an entire thesis. But you cannot fight the still-young Indian nationalism with the woolly-headedness of the European Left. I bet you a meal anywhere, including in Khan Market (sorry Modi ji, if it’s a copyright violation) that too many of the geniuses who inserted those promises to repeal the sedition law, dilute AFSPA and Aadhaar live in another country, if not another planet. Indira or Rajiv Gandhi would be aghast. Is it a good idea to liberalise these laws? Editorially, yes. But then go get your votes from editorialists.


Also read: Not Gandhi dynasty, but a Narasimha Rao-like figure can save the Congress now


9. One highlight of our travels during the campaigns over the past decade is a rising aversion of the young to dynastic entitlement and elitism. From Gujarat to Tripura and Jammu to Thiruvananthapuram, one consistent view is: Nice guy, but Rahul has no experience yet. Why did he not handle a ministry and learn when his party was in power for 10 years? Non-committed voters are more brutal: What does he do to earn his living and fund his lifestyle? I’d also love to be a trained diver, pilot, martial arts black belt. But how would I pay for it? How does he? As we’ve been saying for a decade now, and recording in my ‘Writings On The Wall’ series, India is seeing the rise of a generation of post-ideological, I-don’t-owe-you-or-your-parents-nothing generation. Very few go to JNU. They just compare earthy, self-made Modi deservingly living it up now with Rahul merely living out his elite entitlement.

10. What was Priyanka Gandhi doing? She was used as a guest artiste and never as a strategic asset. The Congress’s obsession with a UP revival is self-destructive. She might have made greater difference in Rajasthan, MP, Karnataka and Maharashtra, where the party was in a straight shoot-out with the BJP. She was the most convincing Congress campaigner, and wasted in eastern UP.


Also read: After bursting onto the scene, Priyanka Gandhi’s political route looks a lot like Rahul’s


11. Modi plugging his achievements is fine. Rahul can counter him. Show me when Rahul listed UPA-2’s formidable achievements. T.N. Ninan had listed these in his usual pithy 500-odd words. Between 2009 and 2014, 10 Janpath, egged on by the extra-constitutional centre of power NAC, spent five years undermining its own government because the durbaris couldn’t stand outsider Manmohan Singh winning a bigger second term. I had then called it the Congress party’s auto-immune disease, a withering condition when, as we know, a body’s immune system turns on itself. That hasn’t changed.

12. And finally: Think about the Left. It will fail to cross two figures nationally, score a zero in its bastions of West Bengal and Tripura, and get most of its 5-6 seats from Tamil Nadu, hanging on to the DMK and the Congress, which it opposes nationally.

We can sum up as follows: Conventional wisdom has it that the loser learns more from defeat than the winner. Between the Congress and the BJP, they’ve reversed that logic.

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48 COMMENTS

  1. Guptaji easily forgets the fact that BJP has a committed cadre working for the party and nation, unlike a few slaves singing goodies for the dynast. May I ask you, what obligation do an Indian citizen have to vote a incapable dynast who always lived in class. Unlike a well to do dynast, leaders who have come up from remote backgrounds can only understand value of toilet, housing and a personal contact for help. Is it not democracy to elect leaders of citizens choice, rather a dynast deciding who should rule the country. Are we slaves/brainwashed to dynasty.??

    • Unless Dynasty leaves party and remove all corrupts like Chidu like gangs and others from party, party’s image cannot be resurrected. Else congress will breathe it’s last in a decade.

  2. With election after election over the last seven decades, Congress has been openly and widely accused of ‘Smugness’ and ‘Arrogance’, whether in learning lessons from defeats, firming up and nurturing alliances, ” Talking down to”, instead of “Talking to” allies and, assiduously working and acting to suppress and sideline capable and popular state and regional leaders to stem their rise lest they outshine anyone in the dynasty. Rahul was no exception to this. Above everything else, ONE very striking reason for the utterly humiliating pan Indian Congress rout is that everyone could see the hollowness of Rahul’s professed “Love” for Modi in the wake of the fake ‘HUG’ followed by the ‘genuine’ WINK ( completely exposing his sham) and the unwarranted disrespect (despite even the age difference) for even the status of a PM, very bad language, cheap words and jibes, elementary school boyish acronyms ( Gabbar Singh Tax etc) and constant ridicule of Mr Modi. Sadly, even PGV, introduced into the attack very late, who was expected to be articulate and ‘intelligent’ in her interaction with people, chose to instantly switch over to the ‘Rahul mode” of ridiculing and belittling Modi all the time, and not saying ANYTHING worthwhile. If one bothers to compile the “Speeches” (Lol) of both RG and PGV over the last SIX months, one will ONLY find these meaningless and inane expressions, but NO communication of ANY worth or value to a voter looking up to them. How could they NOT LOSE ?

  3. Another factor that is very essential in everyone’s life is “Hanuman Factor”, who is dedicated to his leader ‘s needs and dreams.
    Vajpayee had LK Advani as Hanuman and Modi has Amit Shah as his Hanuman.
    Both of them dedicated themselves to the leader .Indira Gandhi had two , Venkatraman and Narshima Rao after her defeat in 1977.
    We all need Hanuman factor in our lives to achieve success,

  4. Factor # 13
    The mentally sick LOOTyens Cabal/Media. They have started it again within 24 hrs. Wish they continue for next 5 years as that will mean Modi coming back in 2024 with 350/400 (BJP/NDA). This is MODI and not Atal. Modi will make crooks irrelevant in India. House to everyone by 2022 is the next big game. LOOTyens can keep building upon Owaisi narrative, but that will not work., It will unite “INDIANS” more.

  5. the congress leadership has five more years to analyse what went wrong until the next election . though i doubt they would have learnt. anything

  6. there is only one reason why the lok sabha result turned out this way and so disastrously for the congis. state elections in rajasthan madhya pradesh and chhatisgarh happened in december where the congress came to power. now the janata janardans mood changed within 6 months because they saw no difference in cong style of functioning and governance with broken promises. this time the janata janardan had learned its lesson and voted the congis to the dustbin in the hustings. no need for such a long article.

  7. sirji, you earlier declared that there was no modi wave in your NATIONAL INTEREST COLUMN in the first week of April, after meeting KCR and Jagan as part of your India tour with Prannoy and Dorab. You also declared that Modi matters only in Hindi heartland. KCR had a taste of it this time. If Chandrababu Naidu decides to shoot himself in the foot and in the process decides to drag BJP too along, there will be a price to pay for BJP in AP but Karnataka, Bengal and Odisha have ensured that the space for Jagan to wag is very limited in AP.

    But your analysis of consolidation of upper caste vote behind Modi as a bit of sensation mongering. You can also put this more positively as people cutting across vote bank have voted for Modi, which is borne out by the voting percentage too. SME business community have borne the brunt of Demo and GST. Those who were otherwise BJP supporters had turned hostile. Yet you say it is an upper caste vote bank consolidation. You can be generous and yet be true.

  8. Shekharji, try it, koshish karo, you can do it, be courageous and don’t back off, take a deep breath and say Rahul GAndhi is a complete and prime example of a nincompoop. Born in a political family, 15 years as a MP and the guy still hasn’t learnt anything and has zero political or for that matter any acumen. Not even God can save the Congress

  9. Sirji, you had declared NO MODI WAVE in your NATIONAL INTEREST column in the first week of April. You had analysed like – inside out, outside in, referring to interactions with KCR and YSR Jagan. KCR has got the message. Even NCN would have been better off and so would have been BJP in AP, had they struck together. NCN chose to shoot himself in the foot and the rest is history. But even YSR will have to stay muted now.
    If Modi’s presence is pan India, so should you revisit your idea of upper caste vote bank consolidation for Modi. This assertion is a bit like SENSATIONALISM SELLS for you. This could also be read as -people cutting across caste lines have voted for Modi which is apparent when you read the percentage figures..

  10. Unfortunately there is one and only one reason “why Modi-Shah’s BJP got the better of Congress & everyone else” – money and muscle power – which are now the sole factors in our national election (with honorable exceptions in few states). this played out again and again – win for Pragya, loss for Atishi; win for Reddy bros in K’taka, loss for Kanhaiya in Bihar, the no-holds-bar fight between modi and banerjee in bengal that cut the cake in two. the pockets where bjp lost, often it lost to local dons who were even more of goons than them. We need to detoxify our politics and our country.

    • Pragya did not win because she had plenty of money and muscle power. She won because she faced an evil in Diggy and it is a fact that evil always loses. Atishi and his party played a dirty game by blaming poor Gambhir for something he never did. Again the case of evil losing to goodness. Kanhaiya Kumar’s loss was written in stone the moment he filed his nomination because he is the leader of the ‘tukde tukde gang’ and no patriotic Indian will vote such a guy. Again evil losing out. If India needs detoxification, ut has to get herself rid of these evils.

  11. Overall you are right. But perhaps the past five years should have been used to muffle the egos’ war in the opposition, and put in front of the couple that led the party winning the elections a person and not a multitude of contenders for the position of prime minister!

  12. It reads like a text book article for Civil services exam.Rigour is missing since it has the benefit of hindsight.Unfortunately politics deals with immediate present.

  13. People here, who have no clue on what secularism is and the fact it is lifted straight from Europe without context, particularly after Church tried to interfere in Monarchies there, does not deter these much worried species. These are the same Marxists and Liberals who Modi rightly called Khan market gang. The voters for Modi do not respect dynasties nor these johnny come lately socialists, secualrists, marxists, tukde tukde gang. If they still will read NY Times, BBC, Guardian…..why don’t you shift your ***** and move on? We are sick and tired of you, sixty plus years is too long.

  14. Congratulation to BJP for their victory.

    Still I don’t understand what made Rajasthan give all 25 seats to BJP.
    The state is whoppingly poor and doesn’t have electricity, water and basic infrastructure.
    In last 5 years hardly Modi and Shah visited Rajasthan and looked at its extreme backwardness.
    No improvement of life in last 5 years then what prompted people to vote Modi so strongly that BJP got all 25 seats.
    Still hard to understand.
    I think it’s still dream selling and POOR LOVE TO SEE DREAMS .

    • bro i’m from jaipur,raj ..in our state both parties do nothing when they r in power 0% work at ground.this time some people voted congress bcoz they thought congress will make sachin pilot CM not Ashok gehlot but congress had played with our feeling also koi farmer loan maaf ni hua and bjp benefited people with many small schemes which turned their vote to bjp also Hanuman Beniwal played a very big role for bjp if congress would have make alliance with him they could have won 5-7 seats but here also congress lacked politics

  15. I request Shekhar Gupta to write on why many in Indian Muslims continue to feel uncomfortable with Modi returning to power and what Modi should do to lesson this discomfort.

  16. You are right. Congress is unlikely to learn anything under its present family based leadership. Whole new generation of young leaders have to emerge for its revival.

  17. You are the smarter one of the European left liberal, Delhi editorial gang with a network among the power corridors to boot. You chose to throw your beliefs of India into the trash to make a cunning point. You dont care about the idea of India, BJP or Congress as much as you want readers to believe you are right, and were so all along. You may need therapy and please consider it. Else there is always the Kedarnath caves.

  18. This is the rise of new India where performance is rewarded and all entitled privileged junk are going to be thrown out, and please stop trying to show this as rise of bigotry fascism and whatnot, this is a democratic verdict because people want it minority appeasement will never work again

  19. One more thing one should add that connection to general public for example Tajinder Bagga, BJP used social media smartly. He used to retweet and reply questions by common citizen which gave them trust to toward BJP.

  20. How the Editors change color , to be with the victor! Shekar Gupta , is a good example.
    The tone changed. The text changed. And , have started finding in all the virtues , that were invisible , before the election results. Long live the survival instinct .

  21. Not sure why you didn’t point this out before the results were out. Would you have still raised these points had they not won this mandate? With the amount of money at their disposal and a compliant media, there was no way that any voter would have heard of Nyay. With such resources, you could have even elected a donkey as Prime minister. Congress put up a good fight and the election would have gone in the other direction had the Supreme court / EC put a stop on electoral bonds .

  22. Shekar Gupta Babu get good idea about change in Indian demography, culture and virtues. today irrespective of the difference in income levels, places, language the common thing is aspirations, middle income, low income and upper middle income want to grow and want to define their own goals. So the aspirations and the needs of these class of people is very very important in terms of understanding India´s political scenario. Then secondly for ten years of UPA rule why were you silent like when jobs had not been created, no opposition was there, no body even speak of economic turmoil if u remember the crisis that occurred in 2008. So it means that u had no responsibility of a good journalist as u might be biased. Even more crucial existence of your journalism is seen from the fact when the one of most horrendous crime of rape was committed in 2013 December and the unfortunate Girl called Nirbhaya had to under go this ordeal where were u reporting, u did not even spoke a word on Govt and its doings. Pathetic now of saying something to exonerate others and yourself. its sad.

  23. I don’t understand why Shekhar Gupta thinks that BJPs mammoth win is Rahu Gandhi or Congress’ loss. It is absolutely India’s loss. You are in the media yourself. Would this win have no impact on you or your colleagues? Stop making this about the Congress. Article after article talks about how the Congress is in doldrums. Really? Only Congress, and no one else? Then perhaps you mustn’t waste so much time on analysis if everyone else, including you, are pretty content.

  24. The biggest reason for the Congress defeat is the mistrust between the dynasty and the regional satraps. Mamata, Pawar, Sangma, Jagan and so on, they were all in Congress and left it when faced with a deadend. You trust your regional leaders and see the magic unfold– Amarinder a good example.

  25. I think the entire discussion today so far focused on why Congress’ put up a poor show. Many don’t realise that you don’t expect an analogue computer to perform in a digital age! It isn’t fit for purpose! Congress may have a pan Indian DNA, albeit a dynastic one, but it’s 20th century model means that isn’t fit for purpose. Kujliwal’s party was a flash in the pan. So, unless another party emerges we have got to live with a non-existent opposition. Shri Pappu can’t change that.

  26. That’s a brilliant analysis, you have correctly measured all aspects gone in favour of BJP or against Congress but I feel you have not given proper weightage to each aspect. BJP targeted Recency Effect on Masses. Recency Effect is a psychological term where persons easily remember those last words said or shown. Masses will have more recency effect when emotional aspects touched upon so Modi targted Nationalism and National Security and Made himself as capable protector of Nation with Pakistan as boogie. Pakistan is a very handy tool in waking up Islamophobia. When propaganda sustainability in danger put foward development has taken back seat in the minds of citizens. This time instead of people gathering under the umbrella of Cast especially in Hindi speaking and north Indian states, they flocked under Majoritarian Religious umbrella which gave greater guarantee of National Security. Being South far from National Security threat and also under less influence of Islamophobia, they remained unaffected which is visible in the results too. In a nutshell the narrative of National Security, Hindu Pride at the fag end coupled with Islamophobia helped BJP to make citizens forget issues on Development social harmony etc. Corruption is a distant third issue in the minds of voters… by repeatedly raking this by congress while itself is perceived as corrupt by public, congress literally failed to create any anti incumbency factor and neither NYAY could attract voters. Biggest failure of Congress in MP and Rajasthan should be attributed to incompetency of CMs to sustain the voter support. I totally agree with you that presidential election type approach of BJP vs Candidate centric approach of opposition but the problem here is opposition failed to target opposition candidates but aimed guns on a single person which became a trap

  27. Only hope that Modi 2.0 will be more accessible to the press, and the press would be critical yet unbiased, non-judgemental, objective and truthful about fundamental achievements of the incoming government. It was good to see media questioning Congress top leadership.

  28. Shekhar with his NDTV and Indian Express gang were busy predicting fall of NDA till yesterday. Suddenly, reasons for BJP victory were revealed to him, as if by some magic. Could Shekhar have not written similar article two weeks before? What he proffers here, was well known to everyone. Only difference is that Shekhar was blinded by anti Modi thoughts.

  29. In his victory speech this evening, Modi has openly made fun of and ridiculed the word, “secular”. So, is this country going to cower, or implode? Both are unstable and undesirable alternatives. In another comment today in THE PRINT I had wondered if Narendra Modi is going to go berserk in the light of this spectacular win, or turn sagacious? The evidence hints towards the former. This is not good. Modi artificially brought in a reference to lord Krishna in his speech. I don’t know why, but I’m really having a chuckle right now.

    • Krishna’s reference was understandable to those who have a basic knowledge of the Mahabharata.
      He did not make fun of secularism per se, but as it’s usage has been in India.

      • Knowledge of Mahabharata is not a proprietary of frauds who don’t even understand that kindness and compassion are the basic premise of Hinduism or for that matter any religion, and justify killing of human beings in the name of man-made whims. Muslims were known to belong to this category, some Hindus too belong to this category as we have seen in last five years. Secularism has ONLY ONE MEANING in any dictionary in any part of the world. I am a proud Indian, and I am proud to say that this word was used in the right way in my country up to 2014. Some illiterates think MUSCLE & MONEY power can change maps change dictionaries change text books change history like changing clothes.

  30. Sekhar: The loss of elections is not the loss of Rahul Gandhi. It is India’s. India has shed its secular and ethical commitment and voted for vituperative hyyper nationalism, fundamentalist hindutva ideology, and dangerously Nazi-like future. Not every loss is for the worse; not every win is for the better. It is better to stand for universal values of inclusiveness, secularism, rights for all and lose – than win at the cost of all that is humane and civilised. The journalists might want to take sides with the “winners at all costs”, but one advice – do not sell your soul for survival!

      • Agreed in toto. In the midst of the Jai Shri Rams and chest-thumping, there is strong reason to pause before we progress even further into Har Har Modi etc. Besides the true sidelining of genuine economic and social issue by Hindutva, this election pushes Bengal, UP, Telengana and possibly much of the rest of India into a new ‘dangerous decade’ as between 1935 and 1945. As was predictable for any student of the Humanities, with a ruling government openly using an avalanche of fake news videos to spread hate and division, polarization is now very advanced as it was then between the muslim peasant Krishak Praja Dal and Congress Socialists on one side, and the Congress Right, Hindu Mahasabha and Muslim League on the other. In West Bengal, this will now mean an inflammable cocktail of identity politics centred around the subalterns (or ‘chotolok’ to be very crude) mirroring that of Bangladesh, with Bengali identity (TMC/Awami League) pitted versus Hindu/Muslim identity (BJP/BNP). To use various truisms that are almost cliches but are now so very pertinent, ‘those who cannot learn from history are condemned to repeat it’, ‘religion is the last refuge of the scoundrel’ and ‘in illiberal polities, the greatest scoundrel such as Stalin or Franco, always wins out’.Cry, cry India, for what is certain to befall us in the coming decade, even if we do not actually go to full illiberal democracy with the remaining institutional safeguards also being scuttled!

  31. Mr SHEKHAR GUPTA: None of your 12 reasons you were able to give your readers any inkling of before the results.

    According to you there was no wave, no strong current you could detect for the govt in power. (Saw your videos too, no hint there either.)

    Stop your punditry….the days of darbari hacks are over. Khan market gang will not know for a long long time what hit them.

  32. I liked Shekhar Gupta’s analysis in simple and understable words. His simple sentence ” … go get your votes from editorialists ..” would perhaps not be liked Indian Express editors. I wish Shekhar Gupta continue giving unbiased political analysis and allow ThePrint.in to represent all types of views without promoting one particular ideology.

  33. After reading got feeling that not only looser media, Shekhar, will learn more something new reality show.

  34. Pulwama, Balakot, EC, NaMo TV, Funded TV channels, Minority vs Majority. The won of Modi led BJP is Gujarat model of polarisation of votes all over India. Is UP for BJP so short of leaders that they have to bring some one from Gujarat in UP. The voters of UP have not understood that let someone from UP and attempt fight elections in Gujarat. It is basically a divided opposition and other factors outlined helped to win. All candidates used Modi mask

  35. A difficult trek ahead for the Congress. In the West – most recently in Australia – the leader of a losing party steps down in minutes, allowing the party to start working on its comeback under new management. That is not the Congress way. The Gandhis will be in the cockpit. The first challenge / mortification will be seeing hard won power slipping away in Karnataka, MP, possibly Rajasthan. Maharashtra – which sustained the party between 1999 and 2004 – is almost certainly out of bounds for the Assembly election due in a few months. There will always be space for an effective opposition and for some of the core values the party represents. After recovering from this debacle, the party should plot its way forward.

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