As much as the victory of the NDA in general and the BJP in particular was emphatic, it also left some very critical lessons for the opposition. How they read the lessons will determine their future. Every healthy democracy needs a strong opposition and it is in India’s own long term interest.
Caste era is over
Be it the states of UP, Bihar or Madhya Pradesh, caste equations have hardly mattered. The nationalism narrative created by the BJP has really worked. In a way, the 2019 elections also marked the end of the caste era and the dominance of caste parties since 1989. Voters don’t care about caste issues any longer at the time of voting.
Understand the youth
What the Modi government managed better than the opposition was to make a direct appeal to the youth. The youth seems to believe in a strong centre based on nationalism and that is exactly what the Modi government provided to the next generation. Nearly 65% of Indian voters are below the age of 35 and for most of them the Congress party’s glory prior to 1989 is just a footnote of history. The opposition should understand this aspect and modulate their narrative accordingly. The young want decisive leadership and that is what Modi 2.0 promised. Every-thing else becomes secondary.
Have a positive agenda
The India of today and the India of tomorrow believes in a positive agenda. No point in running a campaign just highlighting the mistakes of the ruling party. That is the big blunder that the opposition parties committed. Modi used that campaign to his advantage and used the party machinery and media to full effect. That surely worked better than anything else.
Devil lies in the micros
If it was a Modi wave, why did Congress perform so exceedingly well in Punjab and Kerala? While the wave was there, people still respect grass root leaders who try to understand what people need. Amarinder Singh and Tharoor are examples of two leaders who delivered the state against all odds. There is a bigger lesson for the opposition that there is merit in micro level planning; the way BJP runs its machinery.
Roll up your sleeves, folks
The outcome has proved that to win an election in a complex country like India, you need feet on street. An army of armchair analysts divorced from reality will not get you anywhere. Also it is amusing to see leaders spending more time on Twitter than at the ground level. People like Amit Shah, Jagan, Tharoor and Naveen Babu have proved the need to roll up your sleeves! ©