The return of NDA was predicted by most of the exit polls and the general opinion everywhere was that a Modi Sarkar 2.0 would mostly be inevitable on 23rd May. However, what was unpredictable and what kept the hopes alive for opposition parties was whether or not BJP would get a majority on its own. They were all depending on a weak BJP to happen, whereafter they could arrange themselves and manage to get the required numbers with the hopes of forming a coalition government. But things turned the other way around and the BJP hit a jackpot.
Opposition parties, several media outlets and those who didn’t vote for the BJP are still unable to grasp why India voted this way! Why a majority again! I have a simple theory to help them and anyone who wishes to make sense of this and it is- ‘Voters chose order over chaos.’
I am an Indian millennial who grew up in the 90’s and the 2000’s. For most part of my life, I have seen coalition governments ruling this country. I have traveled accross a fair length and breadth of this country and grew up in several states. I have observed how people vote during elections in different states. And what I have understood with these observations is that the Indian voters are highly averse to coalition governments, especially while voting for General Elections. They prefer “Strong Leadership” over “Shared Leadership” at centre. Or at this moment, “Leadership” over “Chaos”. This became a silent factor which pushed BJP beyond the magic mark of 272 once again. The opposition parties and especially the Left may not be able to make sense of this phenomenon. But People voting overwhelmingly for BJP to ensure a majority for them makes complete sense to me and here are my reasons as to why -:
1. How India has actually chosen its Prime Ministers.
Even though we have a Parliamentary system, we Indians throughout history have voted mostly like it’s a presidential one, thereby indirectly electing our Prime Minister by Investing faith in his party’s candidates. Meaning, we have voted more by looking at the leader and less at the party or the individual candidate. One of the main reasons why Congress stayed in power for so long in India is because people believed in the leadership of Nehru-Gandhi family. They believed that these leaders- Nehru, Indira and Rajiv, could keep their party together as well as the government. Without them, people felt that both the party and the government would be ‘directionless’. (Ask anybody who voted for BJP or NDA in 1999 elections. They voted mostly because they believed that Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee would bring order and stability at centre and not necessarily because they believed in the ideologies of any of the political parties). Which is what brings me to…
… 2. The political situation of 1990’s.
The 90s were a period of high political instability. We saw most number of Prime Ministers being elected and resigning in this decade and India was going through a severe political and economic crisis, which coincided with the absence of a strong leader at Centre to take charge of the situation. Coalitions after coalitions were crumbling and the nation felt ‘directionless’. Experiments like ‘Third Front’ emerged where leaders like Shri Chandra Shekhar, Shri Deve Gowda and Shri I. K. Gujral served as our PMs and tried to fill the gap, only to resign after a few months. Such lack of direction and volatility had also been experienced by people during the reign of Janta Party post the Emergency, which is why Indira Gandhi came back stronger in 1980. (It was people chosing leadership over chaos). All these events left a very bad impression about coalition and third front politics in the minds of Indian people in the 90’s.
3. The Coalition politics from 1999-2014.
Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government was the first non-Congress govt to complete a full term and it was a coalition government. It assured people that coalitions can work if held together by ‘strong leadership‘. In fact, as mentioned previously, people had handed over the mandate to NDA in 1999 mostly because of Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee with a hope that he can instill ‘order‘ at the Centre. Coalition did not seem such a bad thing afterall. And this trend continued with UPA 1 of Mr. Manmohan Singh, until it started to appear that perhaps Mr. Singh does not wield the actual powers.
People started to perceive him more as a weak leader who could not standup to his party leadership and alliance partners. Especially during UPA 2, the period between 2009-2014, which was filled with corruption scams of unbelievable proportions done mostly by alliance partners of Congress, PM Manmohan Singh was not able to take any ‘decisive’ actions. In fact, the whole reign of UPA 2 was marked with ‘indicisiveness’ and ‘lack of intent’ to act by PM Manmohan Singh, whether it was towards Pakistan after the 26/11 attacks or towards his own alliance partners for the alleged corruption scandals. It is mainly this period that cemented the notion in people’s mind that coalitions are a bad form of governance as the compulsions of coalitions dilute the strength of central leadership.
The chapters of coalition history of India reminds people more of the chaos caused by Janta Party in the late 70’s, the crisis filled 90s and the corruption drenched UPA 2. And all these periods lacked any strong leadership at Centre. These periods have left people with more of bad memories in their minds. Whereas in those periods where India had a formidable leadership, whether in the form of Nehru, Indira, Rajiv, PVN Rao or Vajpayee, people were assured about the stability and direction in which the country was headed to.
This is of course difficult to be understood by ‘vote for the best person in your constituency and not for Modi’ gang and the Left. But the voters ensuring a majority once again for Modi was just their way of chosing ‘order’ over ‘chaos’. They ensured a majority for Modi because they wanted a strong Modi leading a strong Modi Sarkar. And not a ‘khichdi‘ sarkar with a dozen Prime Ministers swearing in and resigning successively one after the other over a period of months.