Sunday, February 5, 2023
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Modi lost Jharkhand because his priorities have changed – from vikas purush to Hindu saviour

There is a marked difference between PM Modi and BJP in the first term and now. The focus on welfare and rural schemes has all but vanished.

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Projecting an aggressive image, along with an overwhelming Hindutva agenda, is simply not working for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. And Monday’s Jharkhand assembly election results further proves it. It was a lethal combination of welfarism and playing victim – from chaiwala to chowkidaar – that made PM Modi the election-winning machine in his first term, conquering state after state and pulling off a remarkable victory in the 2019 Lok Sabha election. Both these factors, however, are missing in his second term as PM.

On Monday, Jharkhand became the third state in a span of a few months to throw up an embarrassing result for the Narendra Modi and Amit Shah-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The party has now lost power in Jharkhand and Maharashtra. In Haryana, it just managed to cling on somehow, but not without a verdict that disappointed the party.

There is a marked difference between PM Modi and the BJP in the first term and now – from a heavily welfare, pro-poor government from 2014-19 to an overwhelmingly Hindutva, akhand Bharat-obsessed government. From a ‘victim’ Modi who was being targeted by the entitled only because he was an ‘outsider’ to a brazen aggressor whose only purpose now is to correct all that his ecosystem perceives to be India’s historical wrongs, and do it no matter what. All this even as India’s economy continues to slide.

Also read: How Hemant Soren turned JMM’s fortunes after 2 poll routs in Jharkhand

The welfare hand

Narendra Modi’s first five years as prime minister had one pre-dominant theme — the emphasis on vikas (development) through pro-rural and pro-poor policies. From a clear focus on rural housing to emphasis on schemes like Ujjwala, Jan Dhan Yojana, construction of roads, electrification, Gram Swaraj Abhiyan, skill development and toilet construction under Swachh Bharat, along with the proposal for each Member of Parliament to adopt a village — the Modi government had put the poor, rural voter at its very core.

This helped the BJP win election after election, with Modi’s goodwill and popularity soaring. Sure, he had the ’56-inch chest’, but he also did his best to convey he had a heart for India’s poor. Initially, even demonetisation was portrayed, and sold, as an assault on the rich that would ultimately benefit the country’s deprived class.

On the ground, it was this focus on rural poor that worked for Modi’s BJP — from Rajasthan to Assam. The assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, Tripura, Assam as well as the eventual Lok Sabha election found an echo of ‘Modiji ne humein ghar, gas, sadak di hai (Modiji has given us home, gas connection and roads)’.

Of course, the 2016 surgical strikes and the February 2019 Balakot operation — besides the running theme of anti-Pakistan combativeness and Modi as the saviour — went a long way in giving the BJP that extra, decisive push. But these only acted as a garnish on a dish that Modi had carefully prepared – with the image of a pro-rural, jan kalyan government being the main ingredient – to the extent that much of the adverse effects of demonetisation and the shoddy implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) were successfully counteracted.

The BJP did lose elections, most notably in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh (besides Delhi), but anti-incumbency against the respective BJP leaderships had a lot to do for those results; in Delhi’s case, it was the disastrous CM choice that undid its chances. But when it came to the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the BJP swept all these states, and much more.

Since that resounding victory in May, however, things have been completely different. The focus on welfare and rural schemes has all but vanished. Barely do you hear PM Modi, his ministers and other BJP leaders talk about schemes like rural housing and Ujjwala. It’s Article 370, Kashmir, Ayodhya, Citizenship (Amendment) Act, National Register of Citizens (NRC) that dominate the discourse and mindspace, and, consequently, the government’s work focus.

Also read: Modi speech fact-check: From NRC to detention centres, here’s where PM went wrong

From victim to conqueror

Modi was the eternal victim from 2014 to 2019. A ‘chaiwala‘ who had made his way up in a web of dynastic, nepotistic politics; a ‘chowkidaar‘ who was being targeted by the entitled; the ‘neech‘ politician being mocked by the privileged; and the ‘kaamdaar’ (the one who works) pitted against the ‘naamdaar‘ (the dynast).

Narendra Modi used all of this to the hilt, and it worked for him.

But the aggression and combativeness with which he has approached this term has left minimal space for him to play the victim. Modi and Amit Shah are on a rampage, on a brazen agenda to do what they think is right.

The dilution of Article 370 to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its special status was sudden. But that was only the beginning. From criminalising triple talaq to bringing in the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and hyphenating it with a pan-India NRC, Modi and his troops have so far had a clear agenda, which got a boost by the Supreme Court’s verdict on Ayodhya, ordering the government to form a trust and construct a temple at the disputed site.

Narendra Modi 2.0 has not been a victim. He has been an aggressor at home. All his bellicosity in the previous term was directed at Pakistan; now it is mostly within.

This has also meant that all assembly elections have had Ram Mandir, Kashmir, Assam, NRC and Hindu refugees as key points — instead of the earlier pro-welfare and poor ‘outsider’ Modi.

The voter now has a different version of Narendra Modi, which she is yet to accept completely. An aggressive, Hindu, nationalistic leader may appeal to many voters’ raw, animal instinct, particularly the BJP’s core base, but it doesn’t quite resonate with them as Modi 1.0 did — relatable, a self-made ‘outsider’ fighting against all odds, one who was trying to give a better life to the common people.

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  1. Companies going bust, jobs erosion, Money saved in banks unsafe, inflation, slowdown and it’s gloom all over. The government is trying to keep people happy by deflection of worries. If it continues this way for few more years then we will become like Venezuela.

  2. You can fool everyone some of the time,but not everyone all the time.Lies and PR get you only so far..Indians are slowly starting to wake up and smell the coffee and they do not seem to be liking it.Interesting times.

  3. He is no savior but a saitan just like his Mentor A Hitlers .Its called self brainwashed with Nazi stuff he and other HINDUTVA have read Mein Kemf . Tansformed into Hindutva Nazi bjp style.

  4. Lol, as if Raghubar Das was very popular as per this joke journalist. It was doing of an arrogant CM whose miniters also revolted against him. Rest assured bjp would have done better, if it had changed the CM.

    • If BJP would have done well in the election had it changed the CM, then why didn’t it do it? What were Modi/Amit Shah in rallies talking about Pakistan, CAA, opposition instigating the protesters, WHEN THE BLOODY NEED WAS TO TALK ABOUT ECONOMY, LACK OF JOBS, FARMER STRESS? By talking about the CAA, and not about the issues affecting the voters, they were INSULTING THE VOTERS!
      The same happened in Haryana and Maharashtra. As I saw in the media, in Haryana BJP got “dented”, in Maharashtra it got “denied”, and in Jharkhand it got “defeated”! Rest assured if it doesn’t change its tack in future, it would get “booted”! COMPRENDE?

  5. Ruhi, a pity that you do not get it. Modi’s priorities have not changed. They have always been hardcore, divisive Hinduva. The vikas was only a smoke screen used to cover up the same until those times he felt confident to showcase his “real” priorities.

  6. Paisa hi kahaan bacha hai, for all these expansive, expensive welfare schemes. Can the government finance a scheme which provides a health cover of half a million rupees annually to each family. Paying salaries to government servants will soon become a problem.

  7. As a Hindu, the only thing I need to be “ saved “ from are the icy Siberian winds blowing over what used to be a decently growing economy.

  8. Quite a shallow analysis by Ruhi!
    Modi is not talking welfare ism now as his ‘ghar ghar mein jal yojgana’ is getting ready. Once it is kicked off, towards middle of next year, it will be back to pro poor Modi; then we have Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary and diamond jubilee year of independence- so all focus will be on poor. The interregnum has been used by Modi to clear off Hindutva agenda, which is now substantially complete except for UCC and removal of the word secular from preamble to the Constitution. This may be taken up in 2024. NRC debate has achieved its purpose and it will be back tracked for now and revived next year during West Bengal elections. Modi may add Ahmedias in the permitted category, as suggested by Badal and take out the sting of anti Muslim bias from CAA. NRC may also come in different form like granting amnesty for illegal migrants and offering them to regularize their stay or throwing them out, as is usually done say, in Saudi Arabia or UAE from time to time but identification of illegal migrants will take place before 2024. State election results show that dynamics in the states work differently from national level though BJP vote share in all the states where it lost power, has actually increased. This is mainly due to opposition forming pre or post poll alliances. However, the major problem with Modi is that he is not focused on structural economic reforms and he is leaving it entirely for his FM to manage both structural and tactical issues. He needs a ‘Amit Shah’ in Finance Ministry for this who will go big bang under the political cover provided by Modi! If Modi fails in this primary task, we will have the same saga of a wasted decade that we had under Manmohan Singh. That will be deplorable for the country. Modi’s true legacy will be his economic reforms and not fulfilling Hindutva agenda, however long pending it was.

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