Crucial wins in three heartland states deflate the Congress challenge, weaken Opposition unity and ease the party’s run to a third term at the Centre
Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives at the BJP headquarters in New Delhi after the assembly poll results on December 3; (Photo: Rajwant Rawat)
ISSUE DATE: Dec 18, 2023 | UPDATED: Dec 8, 2023 17:04 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, like all successful political leaders, has a panoptic vision, which, accompanied by an inspiring narrative, helps him identify key battles. He then draws up deft strategies of attack, strikes at the most opportune moment, even leading from the front if need be, to vanquish any opposition he may encounter. Qualities that he demonstrated in full measure in the recently-concluded assembly elections. The stakes were high both for Modi and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), since this was the final round of assembly polls before the all-important General Election 2024. Together, the aspiration is to notch a third successive Lok Sabha victory—a feat only India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and the Congress have accomplished so far. And win not just a full majority but one of the kind that Rajiv Gandhi pulled off in the 1984 general election after Indira Gandhi’s assassination, when the Congress bagged 414 out of the 543 seats in the Lok Sabha, the highest-ever majority any party has won since Independence. The Congress had cornered a 46.4 per cent vote share at the time to reach that pinnacle. The BJP’s highest vote percentage, by contrast, has been 37.3 per cent, in the 2019 general election, when it won 303 seats on its own. Its target this time is a 50 per cent vote share, along with its allies in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Winning a third term will put Modi in the league of statesmen, a mantle that Nehru had worn.