Through the election campaign, the Bharatiya Janata Party and its supporters made repeated claims that their prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi had become a truly national figure. They said that he had emerged as a powerful force even in states like Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh where the party had a negligible presence.  The post-poll projections, however,  have put to rest all talk of a Modi wave in the south.

Data from several post polls suggest that Modi has made  no significant contribution to the BJP or its allies in the southern states. “If the numbers are correct, it is proof that the Modi factor was overrated,” said Dr. N. Bhaskar Rao of the Centre for Media Studies. “In South India. the only place you found the Modi wave was in the media.”

Even in Karnataka, where the BJP won 19 of the 28 seats in 2009, it is expected to lose out to the Congress, which may win marginally more seats this time. The CNN IBN-Lok Neeti polls projects 12 to 16 seats for the Congress and 10 to 14 for the BJP. Several other post and exit polls also give the Congress an edge in the state.

Karnataka is the only South Indian state in which the BJP has a significant presence and Modi had campaigned there extensively. In addition, the BJP ensured that it would not be a divided house by bringing back former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa despite serious corruption charges against him.

“If there was indeed a Modi wave, the party should have swept Karnataka and retained its 19 seats,” said pollster Premchand Palety of C-fore. Even in Bangalore city, where the urban middle class and IT professionals are concentrated, the BJP has faced a tough battle. “Bangalore has been a bastion for the BJP and the fact that they are facing a fight there shows the absence of a wave in favor of the party or Modi,” said Sandeep Shastri of the Lokneeti network.

In Tamil Nadu, the BJP forged an alliance with smaller parties and advertised itself as a third force against the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam led by Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa and the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam led by M Karunanidhi. But vote share projections in the CNN IBN-CSDS polls suggest that the BJP alliance will get only 16% of the votes. This is a 6% drop from the total vote share that the parties in the alliance got in 2009.

Actor Vijayakanth’s Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam, the BJP’s main ally in Tamil Nadu, got close to 10% of the vote in 2009. “The vote share figure of 16% this time shows that all the hype about Modi has not helped the alliance and it is Vijayakanth who is contributing to the numbers,” said journalist  RK Radhakrishnan of Frontline magazine.

In Seemandhra and Telengana, projections show that the BJP’s alliance with the Telugu Desam Party has not had the desired impact either. Estimates for the Seemandhra region suggest a neck-and-neck battle between the TDP and YS Jaganmohan Reddy’s YSR Congress. “What the BJP seems to have brought is only its traditional 2% to 3% vote,” said a TDP candidate, requesting anonymity. “If there was a Modi wave, we should have swept clearly but the fight remains close.”

In Telengana, despite the BJP supporting the creation of the new state, the TDP-BJP alliance is only expected to win two or three seats and the alliance vote share is estimated at 21% – which is the size of the TDP’s base in the region.

In Kerala, the battle is firmly between the Left and Congress, with BJP failing to have made significant inroads despite Modi’s campaign.

Given these post-poll predictions, the BJP remains where it started in South India. Ironically, if it loses out on many seats in Karnataka, the party may actually have fewer MPs from the south than it did in 2009. During the campaign, regional and allies like Chandrababu Naidu in and Vijayakanth were angered because they were not projected as equals to Modi. In the end, these regional parties may well have the last laugh.