“There are 17 states and union territories in which Congress party has scored a BIG ZERO“
Words of Amit Shah on May 23, 2019 to a crowd of ecstatic BJP workers at Deen Dayal Upadhyay marg.
It is hard to write today’s post. So, I will take the easy way out and format it as a series of points. But I won’t be so intellectually lazy as to write 10-15 points. I will select and limit myself to just 3 of the most memorable ones.
(1) Bangal ke andar!
In his victory speech, Amit Shah reeled out the statewise numbers one by one. He spoke of Uttar Pradesh, he mocked the SP+BSP Mahagathbandhan. Then he took jibes at “21 family owned parties.” He even counted down the Assembly elections in tiny states like Sikkim. He spoke of Odisha, he spoke of Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, everywhere.
For over 10 minutes, he didn’t so much as mention what was most special of all. He kept the crowd waiting.
Then, he licked his lips and said, “Bangal ke andar…”
He paused. The crowd roared. Then, he repeated himself, “Bangal ke andar …”
Five times he said it, each time louder than last. Each time he paused in between for the crowd to break into frenzy.
He didn’t even finish the sentence. Instead, he asked the workers to say Bharat Mata ki jai!
No state even came close to the cheers that Bengal got that day. Not even Uttar Pradesh or Gujarat.
Bengal was the star. The treasured apple of the BJP’s eye.
As a Bengali, words fail me on this one. I cannot elaborate how I felt. I’ll tell you it was even more fun than losing my …
(2) Smriti Irani showed the way
If you want to learn how to take on life, learn from Smriti Irani. She began at McDonalds’, with a mop in her hand. Decades later, she swept Amethi clean.
Twice she had tried to enter the Lok Sabha. The first time it was from Chandni Chowk in Delhi. It was 2004 and Kapil Sibal won hands down. Never mind. There’s always a next time. In 2014, she made a valiant attempt from Amethi.
Rahul won by 1 lakh votes, but his victory margin had shrunk drastically. Smriti Irani vowed not to give up on Amethi.
Five years later, the writing was on the wall. Essentially speaking, Rahul Gandhi bolted even before the battle, choosing a safe seat in Kerala.
Either that, or maybe he was really frustrated with ‘Kerala model’ and really wanted to expose it. Liberals, take your pick.
In 2019, Smriti Irani entered the Lok Sabha as well as the history books. Now that is called living.
(3) “Mahamilawat” in shambles in Karnataka and Jharkhand
Okay, so I cheated a little here and smuggled two points into one. For both my home states. I had been really worried that the Congress had picked a coalition that was very strong on paper.
In both Karnataka and Jharkhand, it was BJP vs all. And given the history of 2004, I remember when the secular alliance got 13/14 in Jharkhand. BJP’s vote share was a mere 2% less than the combined vote share of 7 parties. And yet the BJP got just 1 seat. In Hazaribagh, sitting minister Yashwant Sinha lost to a freaking CPI candidate!
But not this time. Jharkhand did not fall for the 2004 trick. The BJP won over 50% vote and swept the state completely. I think most seats were won by over 1 lakh votes.
And what a miracle in Karnataka! 26/28 for the BJP (counting one independent supported by BJP). Everyone knew that the JDS+Cong alliance would give BJP a foot in the door in Old Mysore region. But in an area where BJP candidates used to get less than 5% votes in most seats, how much could things turn around in a single election?
Turns out they can change a lot! Deve Gowda himself lost from Tumkur. Up in the northern part of the state, Mallikarjun Kharge was defeated in Gulbarga. I believe this is the first time Kharge lost an election in his life.
The next day, newspapers mocked the Cong+JDS alliance. They used to flash the ‘V’ sign at rallies. Newspapers said that the sign actually referred to “2” : one seat for Congress and one seat for JDS.
Almost exactly one year ago, B S Yediyurappa had resigned from the post of Karnataka CM and left in tears. He had resolved that the BJP would win at least 2/3rd of the Lok Sabha seats. He delivered on his promise. And now, he has saved Karnataka from the Corona crisis.
In conclusion, I will always say that 2019 was a bigger win than 2014. Non-Congress govts have happened before. But 2019 ended the myth that Congress is India’s default party. The ghost of 2004 lived for a full 15 years. Not for one moment in Modi’s first term did I forget what happened on May 13, 2004. I remember thinking of it even as Modi was making his victory speech in Vadodara on May 16, 2014.
One more thing. Can you imagine what would have happened if BJP had fallen even one seat short of 272? We’d have Narendra Modi as leader of the opposition. And some regional satrap as Prime Minister, running India the way Maharashtra is running today. Enough said…