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Doubts surface over Modi wave

With lower-than-expected voter turnout in cities such as Mumbai, doubts are surfacing as to just how much of a lure the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has.

MUMBAI: There has been much talk in India about a so-called "Modi wave" sweeping across the country.

But with lower-than-expected voter turnout in cities such as Mumbai, doubts are surfacing as to just how much of a lure the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has.

In India's financial capital, voter turnout registered a rise of 11 per cent from that of the last election.

But, this figure was quite low compared to other cities.

While researchers are busy analysing the voting pattern in Mumbai's six parliamentary constituencies, the BJP has already claimed that the increase in voter turnout is purely due to a Modi wave.

Ashish Shelar, BJP's Mumbai president, said: "These additional votes and the voters, which have come in large numbers, show that they are against the current government.

"They wanted a change. They have chosen their leader and they wanted to enhance the chances of their leader to get elected and that is only Modi.

"So these votes are against Congress. These 11 per cent additional votes are in the favour of the BJP and Mr Modi."

The Hindu nationalist party added that its focus on popular urban issues like development, technology and jobs has also swayed voters their way.

However, analysts disagree.

They attribute the voter surge to 'anti-BJP' voting by minorities.

For instance, Muslims are generally perceived as anti-BJP voters, concerned that the party and its increasingly Hindu nationalist agenda could harm the future of religious minorities.

The popularity of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), also known as the "common-man party", is another factor.

With its anti-corruption agenda, the AAP has gained a following, largely in the slums and among youth.

Analysts also argue that voter turnout would have been much better if there was a Modi wave.

Senior journalist and political analyst Kumar Ketkar said: "If there was only one point of Modi vote, then it should have been much more.

"Mumbai is a very cosmopolitan city - full of Muslims, full of Christians, full of Buddhists, and all of them are quite apprehensive of the rise of Narendra Modi. So just when Modi phenomenon consolidates, anti-Modi phenomenon also consolidates."

Though the pre-poll analysis had projected BJP as a clear winner in Mumbai, post-poll reactions have shown that voters may not be entirely in favour of Narendra Modi.

With the Congress party still popular among some sections of society, analysts say there are chances of a 50-50 split of the six seats in Mumbai.
 

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