March 10 turned out to be a monumental day in the BJP’s journey as a party committed to ushering in a New India where the politics of development trump the politics of religion, caste and class differences. The BJP retained power in four states – Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur. All the victories testify to the fact that people, especially women, have unwavering faith in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership and vision.
In political contests, it is legitimate for the opposition to fight the incumbent. This is the requirement of a healthy, strong and dynamic democracy. But the nature of the fight also defines the health of the opposition. In fighting the BJP, Congress has adopted a campaign of half-truths and outright lies. Whether it is politicizing the concerns of some farmers over farm laws or compromising the security of a border state, or playing politics over unfortunate rapes in Uttar Pradesh, Congress has stopped at nothing. In doing so, however, the party lost all of its ideological and moral standing in the eyes of voters. The fact that today the Congress is celebrating that the Aam Aadmi party, not the BJP, won Punjab after receiving probably its worst political beating, says a lot about the state of the Congress.
The Congress’s malicious campaign against the BJP is completely rejected by the last voice of any functioning democracy – the voice of the people. That said, it is important to understand the verdict as some are still trying to downplay the BJP victory by calling it a result of polarization.
In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP won a vote share of almost 41.6%, surpassing the 39.67% it won in 2017, becoming the first party since 1985 to come to power in two consecutive elections. The increase in the vote share shows that this is a vote in favor of the BJP in India’s most populous state. The AAP in Punjab won around 42% of the vote in an election where people overwhelmingly wanted to overthrow the Congress. Yet, the BJP receives much less credit for its achievement. BJP’s tenure in UP shows that 2014 was no fluke. In the 2017 assembly elections, 2019 Lok Sabha polls and again in the 2022 state elections, the state unequivocally declared that it wanted dual-engine BJP governance.
Manipur, after the northeastern state of Assam, gave a pro-incumbent mandate in favor of the BJP. No blockades, bombs and curfews in the state since 2017, showed the people that the BJP is here to deliver on its promises. Five years of peace and development left no doubt in the minds of voters in Manipur when they reached the voting booths.
In Goa, the BJP is about to form its government for the third consecutive time. In Uttarakhand, the BJP broke the curse of an incumbent never being able to return to power with a clear majority.
There is no doubt that in Punjab, the BJP needs more time and effort to build.
The people’s message to the political parties is clear: the New India has no time to waste in the politics of dynasties, castes, religion and opportunistic alliances. New India wants new ideas and a government with the good intention of keeping the country firmly on the path of growth and development. When Modi took office as prime minister in 2014, he set out the government’s broader agenda, which promised pro-poor policies.
Some eight years later, beneficiaries of government programs in every nook and corner of India are speaking out. Even as some chapters attempt to silence their voices, beneficiaries are speaking out through their ballots. TV cameras on the ground this election season reported how people thanked the government for free rations, pucca houses, money received in their accounts under Prime Minister Kisan Samman Nidhi Yojana, social reforms and the not compromising its ideological moorings of cultural nationalism. The BJP, as Prime Minister Modi has stated, is working towards 100% saturation of all social welfare schemes, thus unleashing the full potential of Digital India.
In the 75th year of independence, Prime Minister Modi set the nation on the path to reinventing itself.
The “Amrit Kaal” he spoke of is not a promise set far in the future. It is a work in progress, the benefits of which have begun to unfold in giving the poor and marginalized a quality and dignity of life that other parties have only tokenly served.
The Indian electorate believes that this Amrit Kaal is a reality, which India under Prime Minister Modi and the BJP is well on its way to achieving. The electorate believes in the honesty of the BJP’s efforts and it shows in the results.
This column first appeared in the print edition of March 14, 2022 under the title “A Pro-Incumbency Mandate”. The author is Union Cabinet Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change; and Labor and Employment. He is also the author of The Rise of The BJP