Part 2 of 3
Yesterday’s blog post described the personal background and political record of India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Today we will look at how the election unfolded and more specifically how Modi achieved victory over the Congressional Party’s candidate Rahul Gandhi.
Modi’s BJP party won 282 out of a possible 543 seats and handed a crushing defeat to the Congress Party, who won a paltry 44 seats. This is a devastating blow to the Congress Party who has been the dominant party in
Indian Politics since Independence in 1947. The Congress Party has been lead by the Nehru-Gandhi family for decades. Since Independence, a member of the Nehru-Gandhi family has been in charge of India for 40 out of the 67 years. The BJP party used a successful anti-incumbency campaign that harnessed an overwhelming national desire for change and prosperity, not business as usual.
To the BJP, it was clear that India was a nation yearning for hope and change. The Congress Party seemingly disregarded this sentiment and elected Rahul Gandhi of the aforementioned Nehru-Gandhi dynasty as their candidate. Fareed Zakaria describes Rahul Gandhi running for Prime Minister as being the equivalent of Chelsea Clinton’s, unborn fetus’ child running for President– talk about Clinton overload!
Rahul Gandhi ran on a primarily Socialist platform, promising free healthcare and subsidies for all. Modi ran on a more aggressive, development based approach where he promised that good governance and growth would increase the wellbeing of the Indian middle class. Gandhi ran on a more status quo campaign while Modi tapped into what Fareed Zakaria describes as an ‘aspirational middle class’ who did not want ‘hand outs’- they wanted real, tangible growth. Modi leveraged a strong economic track record with his successful 12 year tenure as the chief minister of Gujarat.
The Congress Party adopted a complacent outlook of today while the BJP offered a compelling outlook for tomorrow. Ultimately voters sided with the change, promise and hope that Modi expertly conveyed to an aspiring electorate. The election saw a massive voter turnout of over 66.33%, over 500 million in absolute figures. By comparison, the voter turnout for the 2012 US Presidential elections was just 57.5%. Modi’s BJP now has an overwhelming mandate to pursue its ambitious development policies and to clean up India’s notoriously corrupt political system.
Tomorrows post will outline what this means for the future of India and the world.