(This article was first published in Seminar journal)
The Indian general elections of 2014 spelled a resounding shift in the power dynamics of the country with a decisive win for the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP). Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled his vision and party’s mission for a New India over those five years. The BJP, with a confident leader and successful track record, went to the 2019 elections for continuity of this vision and mission. The election of 2019 was a battle of two ideas of India – one championed by Modi and the BJP, and the other by Rahul Gandhi and the Congress. Various facets of these two narratives and the reasons why voters had invested heavily in one while rejecting the other, makes an interesting lens to look through to understand India’s current political landscape.
In the run-up to the 2019 elections, two clear narratives had emerged. On one side was the Congress-led coalition of forces who opposed Modi on all counts, claiming that he was inimical to the democratic ethos of the country. On the other hand, the BJP supporters campaigned on the strength of Modi’s personal integrity that had remained untarnished, and that he had succeeded in pushing the growth agenda while constantly identifying with the masses.