Exit polls 2017: India is back to Modi wave, but no Congress-mukt Bharat yet
The big victories expected in Uttar Pradesh, Goa and Uttarakhand are going to tilt the scales heavily in BJP’s favour during Lok Sabha 2019.
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The India Today-Axis My India exit poll is a sweeping statement in favour of the BJP as far as Assembly elections 2017 are concerned. The two-month-long polls that saw five states voting in a pitched battle to reclaim the national narrative have gone dramatically in favour of the saffron party under the steerage of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.
Of the five states, the big ones, including Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, as well as Goa, are going to be won by the BJP, with a landslide expected in UP. Punjab and Manipur, however, will be bagged by the Congress. The new entrant AAP, it would seem, has not been able to make much of an impact except in Punjab, where it is a close second.
Here are the key takeaways from a national perspective.
Modi wave is back
The landslide victory expected in UP for the BJP is despite having no chief ministerial candidate. Evidently, the many rallies by Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, as well as the PM’s particular focus on Varanasi, ensured that the saffron party edged ahead of others. The “adopted son” of UP is definitely the chosen one as far as the exit poll predictions are concerned.Photo: Reuters
The voting patterns in UP, Uttarakhand and Goa are clear indicators of strong polarisation along religious lines, but more evidently among the Hindus, irrespective of caste origins. The non-Hindu votes were scattered and confused, divided among the players like the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance and the BSP.
It is obvious that the BJP strategists know how to switch on and off the polarisation engine and play up issues like terrorism, Kashmir, Ram mandir and other key factors that decided the crucial UP elections. In Goa and Uttarakhand, local politics merged with national ambition and reclaimed the space for the saffron party.
Development takes a backseat
Akhilesh Yadav’s commendable stint as UP chief minister hasn’t exactly translated into a vote for development. Despite building many hundreds of kilometres of roads and national highways, Lucknow metro, and other infrastructural facilities, SP-Congress alliance failed to keep up the momentum as the tables turned in favour of Modi.
National trumped local
The Assembly polls, except Punjab and Manipur, were as much about the national narrative, as they were state elections. The battle for UP was pitched as the dress rehearsal for Lok Sabha 2019, and if the exit polls are an indication, the Narendra Modi-led BJP could easily look forward to a second innings in the centre.
Only in Punjab, where the Badals suffered a tremendous anti-incumbency, and in Manipur, where the BJP-led Centre was seen as the villain responsible for the 127-day-long economic blockade, the verdict 2017 has been decidedly about setting the national agenda and reclaiming the grounds lost in 2015 and 2016.
Not end of the road for Congress
Despite the setback that Rahul Gandhi is going to get in Uttar Pradesh, Congress, it would seem, has found a second lease of life in Punjab and Manipur. This thwarts the BJP’s ambition to create a Congress-mukt Bharat, as the grand old party of India decides to fight back.
However, for the Gandhi family, it is a moment of introspection. If the Congress has sprung back, it has been solely because of strong regional leaders such as Captain Amarinder Singh in Punjab and Okram Ibobi Singh in Manipur.
The report card for Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi says a big #Fail. Will it even stay a national level party in the next general elections? We can’t be sure of that.