The recent electoral debacle in the three BharatiyaJanata Party (BJP) ruled states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, in the Hindi heartland of India, has come as a major setback to the Indian Prime Minister NarendraModi. Ever since winning the 2014 general elections, Modi juggernaut has become unstoppable, winning one state after another, until now. So the question is what has gone wrong? India is currently facing twin problems of agrarian crisis and youth unemployment, which have been the main reasons for the BJP’s electoral debacle. The failure of monsoon for two consecutive years has led to agrarian distress in many states in India. Although the Modi government introduced the much hyped crop insurance to protect the farmers interest against the failure of monsoon, but the scheme has received lukewarm response from the farmers. The primary reason for the failure of the policy is insurance companies’ unwillingness to compensate the total loss. They have covered only 45% of the claims made by the farmers . This has forced the farmers not to opt for renewal of the crop insurance. In the case of Madhya Pradesh, the situation is different; excess production of crops has brought the prices on a downward spiral. The farmers could not even recover the input costs. The second failure has been Modi’s inability to fulfil his promise of creating 20 million jobs a year. According to an estimate, only 4 lakh jobs were created during the 2016-2017. This has caused a lot of resentment amongst the youth who have taken on Modi for creating a hype in his election speeches but not following up with any concrete action plan. There are two other factors that have led to BJP’s rout. The first is anti-incumbency factor against the ruling dispensation which has been in power for over 15 years in some of these states. Secondly, the relentless campaigning of Rahul Gandhi of the congress party has been successful in making an impact on the voters on Modi’s failure to address the agrarian crisis and his inability to create enough for the youth. Rahul had also leveled corruption chargesagainst the Prime Minister on the purchase of Rafale jets. Incidentally a 3 bench Supreme Court has delivered a judgement that the government had followed all decision making process in the purchase of Rafale jets from the French government, and that there was no need for any probe on the purchase of jets. Rahul Gandhi, who was virtually written off as a reluctant leader, has now emerged strongly with the electoral wins, as people felt that he can provide an alternative narrative to the Indian politics. Moreover, he has successfully managed to channelize the anger of farmers and the youth in his party’s favour by promising to waive all loans. Thirdly, his efforts of bringing all the opposition parties under one roof can pose a serious threat to Modi’s chances of winning the next election. Modi has a difficult task ahead of him in the 2019 general elections. It will not be a case of walk in the park, as the opposition parties will make it difficult for him to get an unprecedented mandate like he got in 2014 elections. Unlike the 2014 elections, when he had virtually no opposition, he should be vary of the fact that Rahul Gandhi is finding resonance among the people and also by uniting the opposition, he may pose a serious threat to Modi’s chances in the run up to the 2019 general elections However, in spite of the defeat, Modi continues to enjoy groundswell of support in almost all the states. He now needs to come with a definite plan by coordinating with the States to gain the confidence of the farmers and the Indian youth. If he fails to come with a plan, it would be difficult for him to retain his hold in the run up to the 2019 general elections. It can’t be denied that India’s prime minister is one of the towering leaders of the world today. His government has ushered major reforms in the country by providing electricity to remote corners of India, providing gas connection to the poor, banking services to people in rural areas, which has eliminated the role of middlemen, and announcing a far reaching health scheme for the poor. On the flip side, he lacks statesmanship of the Late Prime Minister AtalBehari Vajpayee who had the ability to reach out to the opposition, and also listen to his critics in his own party.His failure to take on his Ministers by following a divisive politics has also affected his image. His authoritarian style of leadership has antagonized the opposition who are now opposing the government in all matters, including the land reforms. Moreover, there are several ministers in the earlier BJP government who have become his biggest critics and by not listening to their voices has become one of the major fault lines of his government. Forinstance, Mr. Yashwant Sinha, a former finance minister, has been a big critic of the Government’s demonetisation programme, and has also questioned the inept handling ofthe nationwide Goods and Services tax which was introduced in July, 2017. He has also criticized Modi for making tall promises like “Make in India’ but ailing to implement them. The demonetisation and Goods and Service Tax has severely impacted small and medium sized businesses. May small businesses closed down as they did not have the required cash to pay to their workers. Similarly the GST (also referred to as One Nation, One Tax), an excellent scheme for ease of business, was badly executed. Although, India has been recovering from these failures, but the damage was already done. Modi’s ability win the 2019 General Elections now depends on introducing big ticket reforms like land reforms, by giving a boost to the manufacturing sector by inviting Foreign Direct Investment for creating jobs. He also needs to adopt an inclusive approach by taking all sections of the people along with him. Many of his ministers by their foot in the mouth comments and have instilled fear among the minorities. He should also realize the ‘mandir’ politics has also lost its charm as the people will now vote based on economic reforms that can better their lives. Unfortunately his promise of ‘acche din’ (good days) and ‘SabkaSaath, SabkaVikas’ (together with all, development of all) has lost its charm. In sum, Modi should learn from the defeat and take steps to address the real issues. He must realize that his oratorical skills may not always translate into garnering votes in the next elections. Moreover, unlike the 2014 elections, when he had virtually no opposition, he should be vary of the fact that Rahul Gandhi is finding resonance among the people and also by uniting the opposition, he may pose a serious threat to Modi’s chances in the run up to the 2019 general elections. The author is an independent columnist and a political commentator Published in Daily Times, December 17th 2018.