Spectacular victory in UP makes him invincible, now expect tough reform measures
GN Bureau | March 11, 2017
Bharatiya Janata Party’s spectacular show in the elections 2017 – especially, the victory in Uttar Pradesh, has put a stamp of invincibility on prime minister Narendra Modi’s persona, as the outcome is no short of a midterm appraisal of his policies including demonetisation, which seemed to have affected the common people.
Without Modi the BJP had looked like a rudderless boat in UP, where it didn’t even have a suitable face to project a chief minister. Modi was the party’s star campaigner in the state in all the seven phases; with his hard-hitting attacks on the main rival Samajwadi Party, he carried the day for the saffron party. In fact, his three-day stay in Varanasi, where he competed with the younger duo of Akhilesh Yadav-Rahul Gandhi in the conducting road shows, had evoked snide remarks from rivals. They are now thinking again.
BJP’s victory is four states – UP, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur and a predictable defeat in Punjab where it was contesting in alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) – has shown that the saffron surge that came with Modi leading the 2014 elections remains intact. The BJP’s appeal has transcended the caste barriers particularly in the state like UP, where often people and political parties tend to make choices on the basis of castes.
UP’s outcome will thus strengthen brand Modi and give the prime minister unbridled power to take harsh steps on economy and reforms; and subdue his political rivals for the rest of the government’s term.
Winning a landslide in UP will also help the Modi government overcome the hurdle in Rajya Sabha where it was unable to get contentious bills passed because of the lack of majority. After the UP win, it will gradually get more MPs to the upper house of parliament from the state and cobble a majority for itself. Soon, the party will have an absolute brute majority in both the houses of parliament and the opposition will have little power to browbeat it with.
From here on, one can almost take a second term for Modi in 2019 for granted.
Fire on the Ganges: Life among the Dead in Banaras By Radhika Iyengar 4th Estate / HarperCollins, 348 pages, 599
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