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As PM Modi awaits his third big win, here’s how BJP created history during the 2014 & 2019 Lok Sabha elections

As PM Modi awaits his third big win, here’s how BJP created history during the 2014 & 2019 Lok Sabha elections
The counting of votes cast by 64.2 crore hopeful Indian voters during the six-week-long 18th Lok Sabha elections officially began at 8 AM today and it is suffice to say that the air is crackling with equal parts excitement and trepidation.

Over 700 aspiring parties participated in the world’s largest democratic exercise. But the main duelling parties remain consistent with previous trends: the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the opposition bloc led by the Indian National Congress (INC). Modi is shooting for a third, historic win after spending the last ten years in office, but the road ahead does not seem as smooth as anticipated.

A political party in India requires at least 272 seats to cross the majority mark in the 543-member lower house of the Indian parliament, the Lok Sabha. The PM has audaciously declared that he is expecting a huge win exceeding 400 seats, the slogan ab ki baar 400 paar is stuck in every Indian’s head — irrespective of their political inclination. The Congress-led India bloc, on the other hand, is aiming for a relatively modest 295.

On Saturday, most exit poll surveys predicted 350-370 seats for the BJP and between 107-140 seats for the opposition. However, the early trends are showing a very different picture with the INDIA bloc exceeding expectations in many states. Polls have been off the mark a few times before, but as NDA looks poised to win a third term, albeit with a few last-minute struggles, here’s a look back at the previous elections responsible for Mr Narendra Modi’s unmatchable dominance over Indian politics.
Inside BJP’s decade-long winning streak
The BJP has come a long way since 1984 when the party won just two seats. Its pro-Hindutva stance pushed it to prominence over the decades, especially in the 1990s. The BJP was in power for a considerable amount of time under Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s leadership at the turn of the century. But the kind of support that Narendra Modi has received since 2014 has been unmatched in the history of modern Indian politics.

In 2014, the BJP saw a surprising landslide victory with 282 of the 543 seats. But what factors contributed to its sweeping win with a 31.3% majority?

Throughout its campaigning ahead of the general elections that year, the BJP kept stressing its interest in fixing the economy and combating corruption allegedly caused by the Congress party’s rather inept governing. Modi, who called himself a chowkidar or watchman, vowed to set the government and bureaucracy to rights. He promised more jobs for young Indians and even launched a social media campaign to appeal to the younger generation.

Many experts suggested that Modi created the brand “NaMo'' for himself through relentless media campaigning, something that Rahul Gandhi and other major political leaders could not do at the time. Additionally, he is also said to have had the support of the 45,000 country-wide RSS branches — the Hindu cultural nationalist parent of the BJP.

However, after the leader had managed to comfortably settle into his new role as the Prime Minister of India, he announced the demonetisation of all ₹500 and ₹1,000 banknotes of the Mahatma Gandhi Series on 8 November 2016. As per a 2018 report from the Reserve Bank of India said that “the effort had failed to remove black money from the economy”. Modi was widely criticised for the way this move impacted the middle-class people of India.

Despite this setback as well as criticism against his economic reforms like GST, he continued to implement bold policy changes to strengthen the core economy. His tilt towards a digital economy and seemingly tough actions against corrupt practices received widespread acclaim. He also successfully invoked a strong sense of nationalism and security in the people through the Balakot airstrike, a bombing raid conducted by Indian warplanes in February 2019. And it worked!

BJP came to power again in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, this victory being bigger than the last. The BJP won a whopping 37.36% of the vote — the highest by a political party since the 1989 general elections with 303 seats.

However, similar to 2019, towards the end of his second term in 2024, joblessness appears to be on the rise and incomes of farmers continue to plummet. Amid major issues like food inflation and the threat of AI to the job market, the ruling party relied on not-so-subtle religious polarisation and a ton of welfare programmes.

From being chowkidar in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been depicted to be a saint today by many of his followers. While past leaders in India have tried to hold on to their secular image, Mr Modi has been seen flouting this convention on multiple occasions, expressing that he takes pride in his religion.

With crores of followers still supporting him, the PM seems to be already on a path to victory. Only time will tell if the struggles during the last phases of this year’s election will come back to haunt him.

In the meantime, stay tuned to Business Insider India for more updates on the Lok Sabha elections 2024.


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