It is a case of counting chickens well before the eggs are hatched. Like any other incumbent governments, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre was in the back foot before elections. Results of some Assembly polls went against it. Moreover, the results of a couple of parliamentary bye elections was not in its favour. Such setbacks are bound to happen for a party in power. But the opposition parties put so much importance to these results that in their own wisdom they started believing that the knockout punch had been delivered. and departure of NDA Government was only a matter of time; the opposition parties in all certainty would form the next government at the Centre. The opposition parties were so confident that they even distributed portfolios among themselves in anticipation of the new government. At the same time showing obsession for power they were not even willing to concede even an inch to other like-minded parties to put up a united fight against the NDA.
While the opposition parties failed to unite, another very important aspect they missed that was to set the narrative for the election. Even voters that voted for NDA can not argue that it had done a great job during the last five years. Job creation, eradication of poverty, farmers’ distress was some of the fronts where the government needed to do much better. But instead of raising such issues, the opposition concentrated on issues like Rafale, Hindutva, caste equation etc. Opposition parties such as Congress failed to realise that citizens want a permanent solution to these problems rather than any short cut ones. So they came forward with schemes like NYAY, which were nothing but sops to woo voters. From their experiences, the voters were well aware that all such promises would be forgotten once these parties come to power. Besides, the opposition parties were absolutely mum on national security scenario and the challenges terrorism is posing. They spent their energy attacking the Prime Minister and in the process made the election a personality centric affair rather than issue based. Quite foolishly, some of the opposition leaders even claimed not to be against the NDA rule if Narendra Modi and his trusted lieutenant Amit Shah were removed. But they were completely mum on the question of an alternative to Mr. Modi. While the Congress thought that by winning more seats than the regional parties, it would automatically grab the Prime Minister’s post, others like Mayawati and Mamata Banerjee were dreaming to be in the hot seat. Apart from these potentials were others like Telangana Chief Minister K. Chadrasekhar Rao, who all nourished prime ministerial dreams.
As a result, the electorate was left with no other alternative but to support the NDA and Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the coalition appeared to be more cohesive, formidable and free from any power struggle from within. So the electorate without any hesitation expressed their solidarity with the incumbent government. The need of the hour was to present a comprehensive programme to take the country forward before the electorate and also to present an alternative to Narendra Modi. Clearly on both counts the opposition parties failed miserably. It only proves that they have not done their homework properly. The parties simply forgot the fact that power comes with certain responsibilities. The electorate always rejects those who want to taste power without shouldering the responsibilities. In a nutshell, this is the story of general elections 2019.