MODI’S meteoric rise in 2014 was due to the high hopes he aroused among Indians that he alone can change their lives for the better. The renewal of his mandate in 2019 proves people are still full of hope he will do it. They ignored the Opposition that shouted from every dais, ‘Modi has broken the promises he made to you. He has betrayed your trust.’ Their answer was, ‘We still have trust in him.’
Those who see 2014 as a vote for hope and 2019 as a vote for nationalism may be wrong. A number of pre-poll and post-poll surveys revealed that Modi had won popular appreciation for opening bank accounts of the poor, building roads and highways, providing LPG connection, toilet, medical insurance upto Rs 5 lakh and transferring Rs 2,000 to every farmer’s account. These were tangible benefits that stonewalled the influence of Rahul Gandhi’s NYAY and other promises, which in any case came too late.
Modi would still have gone to the voters with a lot of diffidence as he had not proven himself to be the archangel with a magic wand he had told them he was. There were no signs of ‘achhe din’ for thousands of miles: private investments were at a low point, banks were struggling to come out of the NPA swamp, unemployment was at its peak, the wounds of farmers and small traders from demonetization were far from healed, the exports were not growing.
Then Pulwama happened. It was an act of aggression against the country. We are all aware of what happened thereafter. That is when Modi decided to go about the country selling his not-so-extraordinary performance disguised in military camouflage. He marketed himself as a legendary knight who can storm the enemy’s home. If Indians wanted a strong government they had to vote for him again.
It would be wrong to say that nationalism provided an escape route for Modi the archangel with erratic magic wand. His hope for return was still founded on the few tangible benefits he had provided to various sections of people. Balakot only provided him the armour he could go to the battlefield in. It provided him the opportunity to reincarnate himself as half-knight, half-archangel – as a leader who can defend the country as well as improve people’s lives.
The vote shows people have believed in the reincarnation.
However, Modi should not forget that Indian voters are iconoclasts. Their belief in a leader is not forever. Voters ignored their economic distress to give him another mandate. They would not do so yet another time.