The office of the prime minister is rightly referred to as the top job. The people of India in a very strong voice have elected one man to that top job. The man is Narendra Modi. The people of India have at the same time, and with the same firmness of voice, expressed their utter dissatisfaction with coalition politics. They have given to the Bharatiya Janata Party under the leadership of Mr Modi an absolute majority in the 16th Lok Sabha. Mr Modi will thus not be tied down by the blandishments and ransom demands of coalition partners. He will be the master of his own fate. The point is important from another angle as well. This victory is, without doubt, of Mr Modi’s own making. This means that Mr Modi is free of the possible pressures that can emanate from not only an older generation of BJP leaders but also from Nagpur. Mr Modi is thus free to make policy without fear or prejudice. He will be the first prime minister since Rajiv Gandhi was elected in 1984 to be given this privilege. He will have no alibis for failure.
The words, “top job’’, are particularly apposite for Mr Modi. He has a job to do and an onerous one at that. It is obvious that the governance of the country is in a mess. The popular verdict rejecting the Congress and the United Progressive Alliance only underlines this. Mr Modi’s primary responsibility is to address this problem and to resurrect good governance. He needs to galvanize decision-making. To do this he needs to appoint good colleagues who are in tune with his way of working and taking decisions. He needs to bring back to governance rectitude and transparency. This might be easier said than done. The rusted iron of inactivity and procrastination has pierced the soul of governance in India. Mr Modi has also to reorient his own vision. He has been the chief minister of Gujarat. In the course of a gruelling election campaign, he has travelled to different parts of India and come face to face with the diversity of India, its people and its culture. He has to make himself the leader of the people of India who have reposed their collective trust in him. He must think of India and of all the Indians.
Mr Modi’s past ideological baggage will pull him towards temples, whereas the times require that he goes towards what India’s first prime minister referred to as “the temples of modern India’’. He needs to take a leaf out of the vision of Jawaharlal Nehru and revive and unleash the production forces of the country. Nehru used the State to unshackle the forces of production; Mr Modi must liberate private entrepreneurship. Not religious faith but the faith that governs the act of investment must be the touchstone of Mr Modi’s government. The people of India have offered him an opportunity to do all this. It is an act of extreme trust. India expects Mr Modi to honour this trust. The time for words is over: now deeds must match the rhetoric.