Vol. XLIII No. 21 May 26, 2019

The Election Verdict

THE 17th Lok Sabha elections have resulted in the BJP and the NDA getting a decisive majority and the return of the Modi government to power.  The BJP has won an increased majority and the NDA has increased its overall tally.

It seems that the BJP’s campaign projecting Modi as a strong leader and its communally tinged nationalism making use of the post-Pulwama situation and the Balakot strike  have succeeded in overcoming the real problems faced by the people under Modi rule – agrarian crisis, unemployment, deteriorating education and health facilities and continuous attacks on minorities, women and dalits. 

Modi led a campaign which combined belligerent nationalism with a sharply focused communal agenda that sought to rouse majoritarian sentiments in the garb of nationalism. The use of unprecedented money power was seen in all spheres of the election campaign.  The BJP spent hundreds of crores of rupees in its social media campaign.  The message that Modi is a decisive leader and the claim that he has made India a respected nation on the international map and struck against terrorism emanating from Pakistan was widely purveyed through WhatsApp and other social media. 

These election results signal a consolidation of the rightwing offensive unleashed after the 2014 election. The reality is that the secular opposition parties, including the Left, were not been able to put up an effective challenge to the political and ideological dominance established by the BJP-RSS combine. 

One of the worrying aspects of this election has been the role of the Election Commission which aided the BJP by its acts of omission and commission. The EC not only failed to ensure a level playing field for the opposition but it also legitimised the communal and jingoistic speeches of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. 

The CPI(M) and the Left have suffered a severe defeat.  The CPI(M) fought these elections against heavy odds in Tripura and West Bengal where it has been experiencing a reign of terror, violence and intimidation.  Despite all efforts made, the Party could not register any success.  The sweeping defeat of the LDF in Kerala is disappointing and a major setback.  It is only in Tamilnadu that the CPI(M) did well winning both the seats it contested as part of the DMK-led alliance. 

The Party will conduct a self-critical examination of this serious electoral setback, so that by drawing correct lessons, a comprehensive strategy is adopted to renew and strengthen the Party’s political, ideological and organisational work.

(May 23, 2019)