Where Modi Missed the Mark - Atul Malikram (Political Strategist)

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08 Jun 24
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Where Modi Missed the Mark - Atul Malikram (Political Strategist)

June 4th marked a significant day in Indian political history with the announcement of the 18th Lok Sabha results. While this day brought the BJP back to ground reality and elevated Congress and its allies, it also validated my personal analysis. While exit polls on news channels across the country predicted over 400 seats for the BJP-led NDA, my analysis over the past few months suggested a figure of 294. Eventually, the BJP (NDA) managed to secure 292 seats, enough to form the government. However, the 2024 Lok Sabha results came as a shock, especially for the BJP, as the party which had won 303 seats in 2019 with a clear majority, ended up with just 240 seats despite their so-called historic work over the last five years. This decline included a loss of one percent in vote share. But what were the key reasons for this reduction in seats and votes?

I believe it was the overconfidence of BJP and Narendra Modi that kept voters from reaching the polling stations. Another factor was the fear of ED-CBI, understood even by a local shopkeeper through social media memes. Third and most important was the politics of buying and selling candidates.

Overconfidence, exemplified by the "400+ seats" slogan, failed to convert into voter confidence and did not succeed in getting voters out of their homes. The rallies that focused solely on belittling the opposition and repeated the Hindu-Muslim rhetoric not only dispersed voters but also made them apathetic towards voting. The decline in BJP’s vote percentage indicates that even Modi or BJP-supporting Hindu voters either did not bother to reach the polling booths or pressed the EVM button for another party.

Secondly, the fear of ED-CBI, affecting everyone from big industrialists to small shop owners, was misinterpreted. The narrative of being safe only if aligned with the government, otherwise facing imprisonment, proved detrimental for the BJP. The opposition amplified these issues on social media, making them so pervasive that BJP failed to gauge their extent and depth, resulting in backlash from lower middle-class to upper-class voters.

Thirdly, and most importantly, was the politics of buying and selling candidates, which greatly angered the public. For instance, in Indore, despite the strong chances of the BJP candidate winning, the Congress candidate was included in the BJP on the day of nomination withdrawal. This move received widespread criticism and highlighted the discontent with the party’s tactics. Not only were there instances of Congress candidates joining BJP, but also cases of candidates from BSP and SP being given tickets, sidelining BJP’s own leaders, which backfired on the party.

These factors combined to lead to BJP's disappointing performance in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, highlighting the need for a more introspective and grounded approach moving forward.

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