The Modi Factor in the 2019 Lok Sabha Election: How Critical Was It to the BJP Victory?

Date01 December 2019
AuthorSandeep Shastri
Published date01 December 2019
Subject MatterArticles
The Modi Factor in the 2019 Lok
Sabha Election: How Critical Was
It to the BJP Victory?
Sandeep Shastri1
The BJP victory in the 2019 elections is attributed to a range of factors. This article examines the role
of the leadership factor in propelling the BJP to victory in this election. While the Prime Ministerial
candidate of the BJP/NDA was clearly the preferred choice, the National Election Study 2019,
undertaken by Lokniti–CSDS, indicates that one-thirds of those who supported the BJP would have
altered their voting preference if Modi were not to be the Prime Ministerial candidate of the party. The
article explores the leadership factor in the 2019 election and concludes that it was a major factor that
influenced voter choice.
Leadership, Modi, presidential style, national election, pull factor
Introducing the Theme
Ever since the trends of the results of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections became clear, the role of the leader-
ship of Prime Minister Modi became a crucial point of discussion. How critical was Modi’s leadership
to the victory of the BJP? Was this election essentially an endorsement of the leadership of the incumbent
Prime Minister? Were the BJP and Narendra Modi successful in converting the electoral race of 2019
into a referendum on the leadership choices offered by different political parties? It is becoming increas-
ingly clear that Modi’s leadership was beyond doubt a major factor that accounted for the success of the
BJP in particular and the NDA in general. This article draws from the CSDS–Lokniti National Election
Study 2019 data to draw certain inferences on the impact of the leadership factor in the just concluded
Lok Sabha elections.
There is today an emerging body of literature that examines the impact of the leadership in elections
in parliamentary forms of government (Balmas, Rahat, Sheafer, & Shenhav, 2014; Balmas & Sheafer,
2010; Bean 1993; Bean & Mughan, 1989; Carter, 2015; Dowding, 2013; Harmel & Svasand 1993;
Heffernan, 2013; Hennessy, 2000, 2007; Kavanagh, 1990, 2000; King, 1985, 2002; Kriesi, 2011; Langer,
Studies in Indian Politics
7(2) 206–218, 2019
© 2019 Lokniti, Centre for the
Study of Developing Societies
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/2321023019874910
1 JAIN—a Deemed to be University, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India.
Corresponding author:
Sandeep Shastri, Jain University, Bengaluru, Karnataka 560069, India.

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