Bihar election: The beginning of the decline of ‘Modi wave’?

October 28, 2015

(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses an election campaign rally in Banka, in Bihar October 2, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer       The 2014 general election was termed a “wave election”, a political phenomenon in which a particular party is able to mobilise voters on important issues and win a substantial number of seats. The Narendra Modi-led BJP rode the wave and won on a promise to replicate the Gujarat model of good governance and development for the entire country.

Wave elections are generally negative in nature as it is usually a vote against the incumbent ruling party, which could be due to dissatisfaction with governance and service delivery or issues which are against the voter’s personal interests. The alleged failure of the UPA government in controlling inflation, rising unemployment, scams, policy paralysis and overall poor governance created a wave in favour of the BJP in 2014. However, the run-up to the election added a new dimension to the concept. The wave, according to pollsters and analysts, was in favour of Narendra Modi – an individual and not a political party. Thus it becomes imperative in this context to find out whether the ‘Modi wave’ was a political reality or a myth propagated by vested interests.

A review of the state assembly elections held after Modi was anointed the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate and his campaigning in those states will be a good indicator to gauge whether the wave was only in his favour or for the BJP. In Karnataka, election campaigning could not generate pro-Modi sentiments and resulted in a drubbing of the BJP by the Congress. The brilliant victories of the BJP in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have been attributed to the ‘Modi wave’, but this takes credit away from Shivraj Singh Chauhan’s record of good governance in Madhya Pradesh and the capitalization of an anti-incumbency wave by Vasundhara Raje in Rajasthan.

Even in the 2015 Delhi assembly election, Modi could not prevent an unprecedented victory for the Aam Aadmi Party. The verdict marked a tectonic shift in Indian democracy, ushering in an era of ‘real politics’ and also took the wind out of the ‘Modi wave’. The Delhi election goes much beyond the numbers; it provides a cautionary tale for the BJP, which should start working on the tall promises it made during the 2014 parliamentary election.

The ongoing Bihar assembly election has once again turned into a Modi versus others (Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav). The BJP-led NDA alliance is banking on Modi’s star power, new political alliances, caste calculations, and the promise of FDIs to lure voters. But the party’s promise of development and rallies by Modi in the first two phases of the election did not cut much ice with the electorate. Instead of important issues, the election has been reduced to low-grade demagogy with both sides resorting to personal attacks.

It is important to understand the mood of the electorate and why the verdict seems to be tilting towards the Nitish-Lalu alliance. The NDA seems to be on a sticky wicket due to the following reasons:A supporter of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) waves the party flag during an election campaign rally addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi (not pictured) in Banka, in Bihar October 2, 2015. REUTERS/Stringer

1) The BJP’s negative campaign seems to be boomeranged, creating a sympathy wave for the Nitish-Lalu alliance.

2) The BJP’s failure in implementing promises it made at the centre, like getting back black money from foreign countries, controlling price rise and addressing the agrarian crisis.

3) The election has been turned into an ‘outsiders’ versus ‘locals’ contest, which is working against the NDA alliance.

4) Finally, rising intolerance and the recent spate of communal incidents across the country involving saffron groups and the stone-age diktats issued by BJP ministers have not gone down well with the people of the country. These incidents will certainly have a backlash in the Bihar election.


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pls do not spread such negativity towards bjp , selectively not mentioning of state elections victory for bjp after 2014 elections like jharkhand , maharastra , haryana , j & k reveals a lot about your intentions , so do a balanced article .we indians are blessed to have mr modi at the helm

Posted by tsaurav | Report as abusive

modiji hi jitenge….unhone bharat ka nam roshan kiya hai…

Posted by sacmg | Report as abusive

Your opinion noted. Time will tell you the facts.This will happen latest by 8th Nov.

Your opinions can keep changing and should start from 5th November.

Other facts you have wrongly mentioned is that there was no Karnataka Election after Modi’s Election. A Bangalore muncipal election saw BJP as the leading party.

Facts hidden by you about other elections are Maharashtra , J & K , Haryana and Jharkhand all of which saw a BJP government either alone or in coalition.

Hope you correct facts and retain only your OPINION

Posted by Koorkhen | Report as abusive

Clearly Mr. Rai must have been handsomely rewarded by his congressi masters who have nothing but failed miserably in last 10 years of gross misrule and massive corruption!

Posted by YJ909 | Report as abusive

This is some real drivel. What about Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand, and J&K? Instead of holding water for the Congress Party, the author would do well to remember that people also respect Modi-ji because he is a respectable man and leader, unlike Lalu Prasad Yadav, who is a convicted criminal. Nitish-ji’s willingness to align with Lalu-ji shows that he is so blinded by ego that he is willing to forget that Lalu-ji and his RJD thugs absolutely destroyed Bihar. That is absolutely unforgivable.

Posted by Maja.Maja | Report as abusive

Looks like ignored writer trying to get some attraction by writing statement out of jealous and with no evidence at all. He need to hide on Nove 5 when the result will come out.

Posted by amit204 | Report as abusive

no matter what opponnents say india wave just starting to gain momentum and will sway away anti growth leftists.

Posted by someway | Report as abusive

Writer Praveen Rai herself sounds like a vested political interest, and not some impartial dispassionate observer. She tries to cauche her partisan biases in clinical language, but her personal political biases and interests nevertheless shine through for any reader to see.

Posted by san-man | Report as abusive

The most passionate and partisan analysis on an ongoing election till date. Shame on the writer !

Posted by AdarshMadhavan | Report as abusive

What a poorly researched article!!

“………A review of the state assembly elections held after Modi was anointed the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate and his campaigning in those states will be a good indicator to gauge whether the wave was only in his favour or for the BJP. In Karnataka, election campaigning could not generate pro-Modi sentiments and resulted in a drubbing of the BJP by the Congress…”

Karnataka State election was held even before Modi is declared as PM candidate of BJP!!.
BBMP Local body polls & a couple of by elections held in Karnataka after Modi became PM. BJP won all those polls.

Posted by ARUNVS | Report as abusive

Results around the corner. If NDA wins Bihar, Rai should seek a new profession or Reuters should stop giving him platform for amateur opinionating.

Posted by Amak4U | Report as abusive

The hallmark of all the so called liberals & intelligentsia in this country is that they are selective about everything which in turn leads to double standards & inconsistency hence they lack the credibility.Why has he not mentioned Maharashtra,Haryana,Jharkhand & J&K ?

Posted by N_Shankar | Report as abusive

All these so called thinkers, intellectuals, artists, writers who are suddenly became active and there is a competition between themselves to prove who is more secular, were SLEEPING when congress goons killed lakhs of Sikhs in Delhi, the capital of india after Smt.Indira Gandhi’s assassination. They were BLIND, DUMB and DEAF when this massacre took place. They never Condemned Late Rajiv Gandhi who commented that small plants will get crushed when a big banyan tree falls. Double standards exposed. But, now, Narendra Modi is condemned right left and center when every citizen knows that Law and Order is a State subject. Nobody dares to condemn Sonia Gandhi for the murder of writer Kalburgi of Karnataka where congress is ruling. The worst part is: still the congress govt. in Karnataka could not nab the culprits. Will Praveen Rai write an article on Congress failure in protecting the life of a writer? I have no doubts. HE WILL NOT WRITE.

Posted by Shivageologist | Report as abusive


Posted by Lilahari | Report as abusive

This is a completely biased article . The writer has glossed over the state elections of Maharashtra, Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir which were attributed to the Modi wave and happened after the Lok Sabha polls unlike the states mentioned in the article which were pre-cursor to Lok Sabha elections. The writer jumped straight from Rajasthan elections to Delhi elections missing all other state elections in between. I wonder if she’s suffering from Selective Amnesia.
Reuters is a respected Media outlet, unlike most other outlets which are biased towards this party or that. I expect better articles here !

Posted by BlueMoor | Report as abusive

The author of this article will be proved wrong. BJP will come to power with thumping majority.

Posted by Debuji | Report as abusive

Excellent analysis, Modi is going to lose Bihar election. Next stop UP!

Posted by GPRFIX | Report as abusive

These writers don’t care what Congress has done for 60+ years??? Congress has spent maximum time on dividing India along religion/caste lines… What about Garibi hatao (Remove Poverty) program in 70s and 80s, on which Congress won election multiple times…..On the flip side,, In 1 year they expect all solutions from Modi govt??? What nonsense?????????????

Posted by jay_tee | Report as abusive