More than two hours into the vote counting, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has raced to a massive lead. The second term for Narendra Modi as Prime Minister is now a foregone conclusion. While the Congress is seen improving its 2014 tally, the grand alliance in Uttar Pradesh has all but fizzled out.
BJP is leading in more than 280 seats, which means the party is on the way to securing simple majority on its own. The Mahaghatbandhan is reduced to around 20 seats in Uttar Pradesh. NDA's lead position has gone well past 300 seats. BJP is also making great inroads in West Bengal.
What are the reasons behind the BJP clean sweep for the second straight time?
1. What is on show is a clear Narendra Modi wave. The prime minister stood tall on the campaign trail while the disarrayed and fragmented Opposition could not offer a credible leadership on its ranks. Rahul Gandhi's election campaign lost steam in the second round of the campaign. While his 'chowkidar chor hai' slogan became boring and redundant, Modi was easily faster on his fronfoot, setting different campaign topics as campaign evolved.
2. The TINA syndrome. BJP could easily sell the idea that 'There Is No Alternative' to it on the national scene. The more the regional satraps, especially from the East and South of the country, clamoured against BJP and Modi, the party could pull its ranks in central India. BJP's party organisation literally rode roughshod over the other parties in all aspects of electioneering.
3. The 'National Security' theme had legs. BJP could clearly drive home the idea that it's the only party that can ensure national security. Though observers said national security theme got weaker in the second and third round of the campaign, this didn't really happen as per early lead status. Pulwama attack and the Balakot anti-terror strike clearly gave BJP a shot in the arm on the election pitch.
4. Rahul Gandhi did not have a second-level team of leaders who could launch credible campaign in various parts of the country. All focus was on Rahul himself, while he could not sustain the pace of attack on Modi. At all points in the campaign it was clear that Rahul failed in partnership building. But for this hubris, the Congress could have done better.
5. If BJP and NDA hold on to the lead levels, it's clear that central India's massive backing of Modi is the main reason. It's clear that BJP could convince the Hindi heartland that it was the unifying force in the country while a set of disparate regional parties were trying to channel the country in different directions.