Clean sweeps and nail-biting finishes – the results to five state elections announced on Tuesday were as exciting as a major sporting contest.
The Congress rose from the ashes to grab a decisive victory in Chhattisgarh, winning 68 of 90 seats and wresting control from the Bharatiya Janata Party there after 15 years. In Rajasthan, the party just about managed to edge out the BJP, but with 99 seats in the 199-member house was still just short of a majority. In Madhya Pradesh, where the BJP had been in power for 15 consecutive years, the results went down to the wire, with counting going on late into the night. By Wednesday morning, the final tally put Congress as the winner with 114 seats to BJP’s 109 – the majority mark is 116. The grand old party nonetheless staked claim, telling Govenor Anandiben Patel that they had obtained the support of victorious independent candidates.
For the Congress, amid the cheer, was a setback in Mizoram, where it lost power to the Mizo National Front after a 10-year stint in power, and Telangana, which decisively voted to retain Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao and his Telangana Rashtra Samiti.
The latest round of Assembly elections were keenly watched for more reason than one. With less than a year to go for the 2019 General Elections, many considered this to be a “semi-final” that would indicate which way the wind will blow in the Lok Sabha polls.
For citizens following these developments, results-day meant relentless tracking of the coverage. With lots of time to kill and high stakes to contend with, social media users turned to their favourite forms of expression – jokes and memes – to tide over the tense hours.
For many, it was clear that the Modi wave – the groundswell of support for Narendra Modi that led the BJP to power at the Centre in 2014 – was on the wane, a decline that found expression in pictorial form.
After all the times that Modi placed the responsibility on Jawaharlal Nehru for contemporary India’s troubles, it was time for the country’s first prime minister to have a laugh at its current one – at least in the imagination of social media users.
The joke was also on Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath, whose skills as the BJP’s star campaigner in the run-up to the election were called into question. The Hindutva leader’s recent renaming spree in his state also invited some mirth.
For those in the line of fire, earlier mistakes and unfortunate photographs came back to haunt. For instance, according to some social media users, the plight of Shivraj Singh Chouhan – who is set to lose the chief ministership of Madhya Pradesh after 15 years – was best represented by this controversial 2016 photo of the BJP leader being carried over flood waters by his security staff. In Modi’s case, a recent video of his morning yoga routine, already exploited for countless memes, proved to be the gift that keeps on giving.
The farm crisis at the heart of the growing discontent in many regions, along with the failure of the Modi government to live up to its job creation promise (and his infamous “pakoda” remark) were illustrated by artist Orjit Sen in this graphic.
In the midst of all this, several social media users managed to spare a thought for the devout Modi supporters, or bhakts.
The resurgence of the Congress after four years of political setbacks also prompted some cheer. This is Congress 2.0, much like Chitti the robot from Shankar’s Enthiran sequel of the same name, hypothesised some.
As this meme sums up, while the impact of these elections on 2019 are up for debate, one thing is clear – the Congress can’t be written off yet.