Indians returned a decisive verdict in the country's parliamentary elections, leading to a landslide victory for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and its projected prime minister Narendra Modi.
The ruling Congress party and its allies, which constitutes the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), have suffered a crushing defeat and have already conceded failure, even before the final tally has been announced.
Sensing victory, Modi tweeted:
India has won! भारत की विजय। अच्छे दिन आने वाले हैं।
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 16, 2014
“India has won! Victory for India. Good days coming up ahead.”
BJP on their own have garnered a clear majority by winning over 272 seats, bringing back the trend of single-party majority. With their allies, they are about to win over 330 seats out of the total of 543. In a country that has become entrenched in the tug-o-war of coalition politics since 1984, this resounding victory, seen to be a first in over 30 years, is expected to change the nature of decision-making and the way ahead for India.
A special Victory Wall has already been created online by the BJP social media team. There, citizens can leave their good wishes for the winning alliance and for their leader Modi.
While various exit polls and post-poll research had already predicted a win, almost no one had foreseen the almost complete wipe-out of the ruling party, helmed by President of the Indian National Congress (INC) Sonia Gandhi of the Nehru-Gandhi family and her son and party Vice President Rahul Gandhi. It now looks like the Congress along with its allies will get slightly more than 58-60 seats, not even enough to form a formidable opposition.
Exit polls in India rightly projected the winner but underestimated extent of Congress's defeat. Lok Sabha will have no leader of opposition
— Brahma Chellaney (@Chellaney) May 16, 2014
Blogger Tinu Cherian Abraham commented on the development:
— Tinu Cherian Abraham (@tinucherian) May 16, 2014
Satbir Singh, who works in media and advertising, tweeted why such small numbers could pose a problem for the new opposition:
The problem with being a 60-member opposition is that no one notices if you stage a walkout in Parliament.
— Satbir Singh (@thesatbir) May 16, 2014
A highly energetic “led-from-the-front” election campaign coupled with an effective online and offline media efforts designed by some of India's best communication strategists propelled Modi to the historic victory. Communications specialist and public affairs analyst Vivek Sengupta opined:
By any yardstick, Mr. #Modi ran a stupendous campaign, unprecedented in the annals of Indian electioneering.
— Vivek Sengupta (@vsengupta) May 16, 2014
Blogger Sandip Ghose tweeted:
— GhoseSpot (@SandipGhose) May 11, 2014
Social media played an important and tireless part in the elections, perhaps more than ever before. Sohini Mitter, copy editor and features writer at Forbes India, tweeted:
JFK was America's first TV president. Obama was America's first social media president. Modi, clearly, is India's first TV & social media PM
— Sohini (@Mittermaniac) May 16, 2014
However, there are concerns amongst a section of Indians about the rise of BJP and, more specifically, of the controversial Modi. The latter they continue to associate with the 2002 Gujarat riots, one of the worst examples of Hindi-Muslim violence in India's recent history during which between 900 and 2,000 people were killed. Despite the courts of India clearing him of wrongdoing, some accuse Modi, who was the chief minister of Gujarat, of involvement in a conspiracy or not taking enough action to stem the violence.
There are also worries that this clean sweep may empower communal forces – a worry that had earlier mobilized a group of citizens comprising of activists, intellectuals and artists to actively appeal and campaign against letting Modi come to power.
Now that the die is cast, a peaceful transition and decisive, positive, inclusive, development-oriented governance is the hope of many. May both the winners and losers be gracious and work towards a common goal, which is the betterment of India and its citizens. Surely, that isn't too much to ask – or is it?