India’s General Election 2014: A Rude Awakening

..is sometimes called for, in the bigger stage or in the more local individual level. Today, as Congress grapples with the same despite what the grinning face of its leader project, it is essential that the Grand Old Party uses this opportunity to do some soul searching. In failure does the scope of future success lie. They say, in politics the only constant is change. A change has for long been in the offing in India, especially after the spectacular and churlish response of the congress party to the deluge of irresponsible action that came about in its 10 years of rule. Their indifference to what eventually brought out a cavalcade of bad governance made BJP’s road to success all the more easier. Congress scored not one but many own goals. It’s not just Mani Shankar Aiyar, but the whole party came together to create a pathway for the lead opposition to make big inroads into the Indian election battle. India, at this juncture, after 10 years of a lame-duck PM, needed a leader they could put their trust and faith in. An inspiring and tall leader whom they could point their fingers at and know that the responsibility of the actions will be solely on that person alone.

It’s a decisive mandate with a resounding warning – you have the absolute majority and a simple power equation, you would be the one held responsible if something bad happens on your watch. Naysayers are predicting a period of darkness, gloom and doom. It would be foolhardy to simplify it as that. If it were so, we should doubt not just the current mandate but the mandate of the last 60 years of free India. It would equate to pointing fingers at the principles of democracy alone. Our civic institutions are not tied so tightly around a single seat of power. We live in a federal state and states have their own powers and institutions of check. This is what the people of India have known and they have decided.

Now comes the hard time for Mr. Modi. He has to prove, if his ambitions are to be the longest serving PM in Indian history, that he is not what he has been made out to be by his detractors. We are all hoping, that 3 years down the line, Mr. Modi would be well on his way to be called a statesman. His speeches are eloquent and strong – all signs pointing to 5 years of verbosity. While actions do speak louder than words, we know from history that a leader’s ability to inspire and think the bigger picture goes a long way into making him the cornerstone of India’s massively deficit leader-pack. It’s not “poverty is a state of mind”, or “India is a bee-hive” or “escape velocity of Jupiter” or “politics is everywhere, it’s in your shirt..it’s in your pants” that I want. (For more, look in here). What is required though, is a leader that comes out to speak and speak his mind. How otherwise are we to feel secure in our belief that our government is working for us and not for themselves? I, along with many others I presume, have been a slow-convert to Modi. His speeches have, till date been a major catalyst, at least for me. He has demonstrated a witty and an earthy outlook and his talks have generated a lot of talk and discussion. His gloating victory speech however, left much to be desired. It’s one thing to acknowledge success and another to proclaim at the top of your lungs. The first speech after victory is a historic one I expected it to be more of a fire-cracker than it turned out to be. But it’s a long road from here to the five-years ahead and I am hoping to see more of the PMO-in-action. 

We needed and got a leader – a strong decisive and inspiring leader. The wave was very much there, and it was vindicated with a resounding thump. A wide-array of factors culminated into presiding over this historic shift. And Modi did well to capitalize on the opportunities, turn potential openings into opportunities and stand his ground to turn weaknesses into opportunities. The instances are many, the anecdotes are stuff that the political pundits will likely use for a very long time. For the first time probably, campaign strategies have boiled to such a level as to give the opposition a mandate unparalleled in my living history, I was born in 1985 and from the time I have gained some semblance of understanding I have known India’s parliament to be a coalition-led one. The success of regional parties tom-tommed about and the legacy of decisive mandates rued and desired after. That a right-wing hardline opposition has been given this mandate speaks a lot about the anger that Indian voters developed during the 10-year rule of the Congress. No doubt, anti-incumbency, especially after a decade of governance should take a lot of credit for the current turn of events. But it is easily so much more. A coordinated attempt at re-writing political dynamics, a shrewdly crafted tale of success and a shy at appealing to voters on a plank as anathema to the Indian bourgeoisie as selling mutter-paneer to an Italian made sure this election was a water-shed moment in Indian modern history. 

Modi’s journey has been a quintessential rags-to-riches story, or as in this case it’s a teaseller-to-PM story. A self-made man he very much is. “Is that the PM you are going to elect for India?”, foreigners may ask you when reading about the controversial background we associate Modi with today. Redeeming yourself would be a tough nut to crack and justify because it’s not corruption but mass-murder that our future-PM has been accused of. A serious charge no doubt. But also one that has been proven null in the apex court of India. The reasoning therefore, maybe is that he has been proven not-guilty. But, who are we to give this man the forgiveness he has very controversially received. Would those families, who lost their loved ones in the riots of 2002 ever be able to forget and forgive? I doubt it really. Our PM has to redeem himself in everyone’s eyes – supporters and haters alike. 

The fact that representation of one specific religion in India’s current parliament has dropped to an all-time low is noteworthy and a thing to be alert about. We do not have a proportional representation policy in India which could guarantee a specified number of seats to a particular community and without a meaningful representation we would be and should be wary of what the government may, overtly or subtly, set out to do. I have reservations on if india will become more safe and secure for the mere fact that the man at helm inspires both the moderate and fundamental sections of the society. Across the cross-section, there are anti-social elements and groups who will also feel empowered with this mandate. In the name of their leader, they demands will dial up a notch for sure and India’s structure could weaken. We know what knowing someone in “power” means in India – that we can supersede the equal-opportunity duty, bypass the usual checks and controls, use the contact to demand un-called for ideas. We have done so ourselves in our own small way – using someone you know in the railways to get that VIP seat, proclaiming your relationship to someone in the IAS/IPS to get away with a challan, harnessing your contacts in a political establishment to further vested interests and channeling the pulse of a vitriolic crowd to push for biased interests. Hell, we are taught to network in order to benefit somewhere down the line in our career. My point being, knowing someone in power allows you to run rough-shod over the course of the law, the society and the institution. How then, would these hooligans, sectarian-politico establishments, moral-police clans behave down the line? It would be interesting to pour into their psyche and see what they are feeling. The surge of chest-thumping success we have already seen (Shiv sena workers blocked a whole section of a busy intersection in Central Mumbai to celebrate with dhol-nagada, crackers and saffron-flags regardless of the massive traffic snarl it generates within 20 minutes), but what indeed lies ahead? We are waiting with bated breath Mr. Modi. Your actions will determine if we feel safe any longer in India. You have to ensure through affirmative action and policy – warna, junta maaf nahin karegi. 

They say the financial markets have, over the longer term, predicted best the output of a particular government. In 2004, the markets crashed massively – 10 years down the line, with the benefit of hind-sight, it may have been a forewarning. Today, the markets have roofed through to the stars. They say “ache din aane wale hain”. They have reposed their faith in this man and he has to respond, It remains to be seen if we will be able to carry forward with this momentum. Only time will tell, the business has embraced the man whole-heartedly. High hopes some would say but hope is a powerful thing! 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s