In the early nineties when India began the journey towards a market-oriented economy, a cult film was made that catapulted a talented actor into the stardom of Bollywood.
Amir Khan starrer Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, a title based on a phrase in Hindi that sums up everything at the end of theatrics, glorifying the win and the winner.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet colleague Smriti Irani used the colloquial phrase after Gujarat elections, to sum up Bharatiya Janata Party’s victory at a high pitched electoral battle in a state that is a role model of good governance over two decades for the saffron party.
The recently concluded Gujarat poll was termed as the quarter-final in the run-up to the grand finale of General Election in 2019.
Before the grand finale, the New Year promises to be a semi-final between the two main political parties that will be fought via polls in eight states with four each going to the electorates in the two halves of 2018.
The outcome of the Gujarat elections gave jitters to BJP party president Amit Shah and his mentor Prime Minister Modi as the poll results fell far short of expectations.
Shah had set a target of at least 150 seats in an assembly of 182 members. Final verdict gave the ruling party BJP seats one short of a century, ensuring a simple majority to form the provincial government for the next five years.
BJP blamed main opposition Congress to degrade the standard of the election campaign by promoting cast based politics and abusive language targeting its star campaigner Prime Minister Modi, instead of debate on issues related to development.
In Gujarat, Congress gained in the first phase of the poll, while BJP gained in the second phase due to an aggressive campaign by Modi, sensing a resurgence of Congress with the help of allies under Gandhi.
After the Gujarat poll, Congress claimed a moral victory as it had been able to contain BJP’s dream of a cake walk to form the government for the sixth straight term.
Congress celebrated the victory by anointing Rahul Gandhi as the new president who will lead the party in the General Election in 2019. Nearly two decades old era of Sonia Gandhi came to an end with the elevation.
The bygone year witnessed the emergence of Rahul Gandhi as the main challenger to Prime Minister Modi who has consolidated his position as the undisputed leader of the ruling party as the star striker of election matches.
Whether Modi can deliver in 2018 during the semi-final phase is a big query awaiting an answer.
Hope Modi does not need ‘Hand of God’ like football legend Diego Maradona, as he helped Argentina to win the historic match against England in the run-up to win the World Cup of 1986 in Mexico.
Probably, Smriti Irani used the colloquial term for a winner a bit early as Indian voters still wait for the grand finale to bestow the scepter either to Modi or Gandhi.
The author is Bigwire’s New Delhi based Consulting Editor.