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Waning Modi Wave Reason Behind NDA’s Poor Show?

| Updated: June 9, 2024 17:43

Is Narendra Modi no longer the prime vote-catcher? His victory margin in the recent Lok Sabha election, the impact of his poll rallies, the Varanasi region defeat and voters response to his own repeated exhortation to ‘vote for Modi, not candidate’ – have the answer.

Narendra Modi in his speech to the National Democratic Alliance MPs said on Sunday “Na ham hare the, na haare hain (we had not lost before, neither have we lost now).” “People know we haven’t lost,” he added.

As appeared in The Wire, the strength of the denial forces one to recall Modi’s register at the all-party meeting after the Galwan crisis in June 2020, where 20 Indian soldiers had died in a skirmish with China. Modi’s assertion then – “Na koi ghusa thaa na koi ghusa hai (no one entered our borders and no one is inside)” – belied all evidence, including accounts by shepherds, satellite data, elected representatives in Ladakh and security officers posted on the border who testified to India losing control of 26 of 65 patrolling points.

Modi directly, as early as in 2019, made it about a vote for him, saying the MP should be disregarded, as all votes would directly go to him, in rally after rally. This was negated with the BJP going from winning 224 seats with more than half the votes polled in 2019, to just 156 such seats this time.

Modi addressed 206 rallies, meeting and public engagements this time – a number much more than the 145 meetings he held in 2019. He also gave 80 ‘interviews’ to the media. 

Of 164 constituencies where Modi held public meetings and gave speeches, the BJP/NDA candidate lost in 77 of the seats. This includes speeches delivered by Modi between March 16 (when the election dates were announced) and May 30, the last day of campaigning. This does not include roadshows.

The BJP won in 53% of the seats where PM Modi gave speeches as part of his campaign, “which is a significant decline from the 2019 Lok Sabha polls where the BJP-NDA had won in 85% of the seats” where Modi had campaigned. In 2019, he lost only 17 of 103 constituencies he made speeches in.  As per another analysis, 31 rallies were held in Uttar Pradesh, the most of any state. The results have negated any ‘Modi effect’ and losses have been the most significant in UP, where BJP has been bested by the Samajwadi Party recording its historic high. Margin

Modi’s own Varanasi seat recorded a drastically lower margin from 2019. He has won by 1,52,513 votes – a number way lower than what it was in 2019, that is, 4,79,505 votes. It is ranked 116th amongst 240 BJP MPs’ margins and much lower than many other opposition leaders. In UP itself, Rahul Gandhi in Rae Bareli with a 3,90,030 margin has bested him, as have Dimple Yadav (2,21,639 votes), Akhilesh Yadav (1,70,922 votes) and even Dharmendra Yadav in Azamgarh, adjacent to Varanasi (1,61,035 votes). 

In Maharashtra too, where Modi held 18 rallies, NDA lost in 15 of those seats. 

In West Bengal, of the 23 public meetings and roadshow undertaken by Narendra Modi, “covering 27 Lok Sabha constituencies in Bengal, BJP has lost 20 seats.” In an analysis of the Lok Sabha elections fought by sitting prime ministers since 1951, Modi’s victory margin, in percentage terms, is at merely 13.49%. This is the lowest, after Chandrashekhar in the 1991 Lok Sabha elections, and excluding Indira Gandhi’s loss in 1977. There have been 17 such instances of sitting prime ministers contesting the Lok Sabha.

The Varanasi region in UP refers to 12 Lok Sabha seats – Varanasi, Jaunpur, Chandoli, Machhlishahr, Bhadohi, Mirzapur, Robertsganj, Ghosi, Ghazipur, Azamgarh, Ghosi, Lalganj and Ballia. The BJP has lost nine and retained only three – Modi in Varanasi, Vinod Bind in Bhadohi and Mirzapur, won by BJP ally, Apna Dal’s Anupriya Patel.

The larger region around the few seats that senior leaders contest is traditionally meant to be under the senior leader’s influence, especially in states like UP and Bihar. But here too, the results clearly point to the now often-discussed ‘Modi fatigue’ replacing ‘Modi’s draw.’

Also Read: Modi 3.0: Amit Shah, C.R. Patil Among Gujarat MPs Sworn in as Union Ministers

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