2014 Election Results : A Resounding Call For Change

For the first time in 30 years a single Indian party has won enough seats to rule without coalition partners. India’s 60-year-old democracy may be young compared with the United States – the world’s oldest – but there are parallels between this election and Barack Obama’s first presidential victory… Indians desperately want economic growth and have grown frustrated with the corruption and incompetence of the ruling Congress Party. Some think tanks have rated the last parliament the least productive in India’s history. And so Indians turned to Mr. Modi, a charismatic campaigner with a compelling story…


a-resounding-call-for-changMore than half a billion Indians, a record 66 per cent of eligible voters, cast ballots at some 930,000 polling places. The conservative Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its controversial leader, Narendra Modi, won more than half the seats in Parliament, the first time in 30 years a single Indian party has won enough seats to rule without coalition partners. India’s 60-year-old democracy may be young compared with theUnited States–the world’s oldest–but there are parallels between this election and Barack Obama’s first presidential victory. Both Mr. Modi and Mr. Obama hugely appealed to young voters and ran on a message of change, expanding economic opportunity and making Government more responsive.
Indians desperately want economic growth and have grown frustrated with the corruption and incompetence of the ruling Congress Party. Some think tanks have rated the last parliament the least productive in India’s history. And so Indians turned to Mr. Modi, a charismatic campaigner with a compelling story. Born to the lower caste, he is a former chaiwalla (tea seller). In 12 years as Chief Minister of the western State of Gujarat, he developed a reputation for getting results and fostering economic development, job creation and improving infrastructure.
But Mr. Modi is feared by many Muslims for his alleged role in riots in 2002 in which more than 1,000 mostly Muslim people were killed in Gujarat. He has denied allegations that he did nothing to stop the violence but was denied a U.S. visa in 2005 over the issue. An Indian reporter said recently that expectations for Mr. Modi and his Government are so high that if the lives of average Indians do not change, “emotions will break.” But changing entrenched political systems isn’t easy. Mr. Obama promised to change the culture of Washington, but the promised change has not materialised and the Obama administration and Congress are mired in political brinksmanship and paralysis. Voters, especially millennials, are more cynical and disaffected than ever. The lesson? Perhaps the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi are particularly apropos. An unjust political system can be overturned, but not just by one person. Change requires the efforts and involvement of many people persistently working together.
– Think Tank/WSJ: Modi’s Victory and India’s Change Election


The Muslim Block Vote : Has One Of The Biggest Myths Been Broken?

The post-poll survey done by the Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) for CNN-IBN shows that 9 per cent of Muslims voted nationally for the BJP this time, against 4 per cent in 2009… Even BJP President Rajnath Singh may not have won by a 2.73 lakh strong margin in Lucknow without some support from Muslims, especially Shias…

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One of the biggest myths the 2014 general elections seem to have broken is of Muslims voting as a block for the candidate best placed to defeat the BJP. Not only did they not do so, there is indication of selective voting by the community for BJP candidates. The post-poll survey done by the Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) for CNN-IBN shows that 9 per cent of Muslims voted nationally for the BJP this time, against 4 per cent in 2009. Also, the fact that the BJP won in nearly half of the 100-odd Lok Sabha seats with significant Muslim population could point to at least limited community support for the party. For instance, BJP candidates in Delhi polled substantially higher votes in Assembly segments such as Ballimaran (Chandni Chowk) and Matiala (West Delhi). Even BJP President Rajnath Singh may not have won by a 2.73 lakh strong margin in Lucknow without some support from Muslims, especially Shias.

No strategic voting
On the other hand, Muslims clearly did not undertake strategic voting by casting their lot with candidates seen as the best bets to beat the BJP. This is evidenced in a host of constituencies, especially in Uttar Pradesh. Take Baghpat, where one would have presumed that Muslims would vote for Civil Aviation Minister and Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh, who enjoys support amongst the powerful Jat farming community. Instead, Ajit Singh came third, polling 199,516 votes. The Muslims seemed to have voted mainly for the SP’s Ghulam Mohammed, who got 2,13,609 votes and came second behind the winner Satya Pal Singh of the BJP, who won by over 2 lakh votes. In most seats in UP, the Muslim vote seems to have been divided between the SP, the BSP and the Congress, contrary to the belief of their voting tactically to defeat the BJP.

Reverse consolidation
However, Sanjay Kumar, Professor at the CSDS, noted that the BJP seemed to have done well in many constituencies with high Muslim population. This is not because of Muslims voting for the party, but because of a reverse consolidation phenomenon — of Hindu upper castes, OBCs and a section of Dalits voting en bloc for the BJP, he said. Thus, in Moradabad and Rampur — where Muslims account for roughly half the population — the Muslim vote got split between the SP, the BSP and the Congress and the winning candidates were from the BJP. Ditto for Saharanpur and Bijnor. “The polarisation here has been of other communities/caste groups in favour of the BJP,” Kumar pointed out. The biggest loser nationally, of course, has been the Congress. In most of the constituencies in which it may have banked on the vast Muslim voter population, the party failed spectacularly this time — unlike in 2009, when it seemed to have benefited from tactic minority voting.

Complete trust-deficit
Sociologist Radhika Chopra said the results in Muslim-dominated constituencies reflect a complete trust-deficit in the Congress and its ability to solve social, political and economic problems. “Voters have not voted as Hindus or Muslims,” she observed. A prominent activist for minority issues said that unlike what is usually presumed, Muslims do not vote en bloc, just as any other community. “Modi was the biggest threat for Muslims. If they didn’t vote en bloc against him now, when will they?” he asked. “Further, even if Muslims come together and on the other hand even 20 per cent of the majority (Hindu) votes get consolidated, that gives a clear majority,” he said. “The Muslim votes have been divided in most States. “In Delhi Muslim votes got divided with the AAP, with the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal, with the SP and BSP in UP, with the RJD in Bihar and so on. In most cases it did not go to the Congress,” he said.
– The Hindu Business Line : Did Verdict 2014 Break The Muslim Block Vote Myth?

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