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WAIT AND WATCH

Narendra Modi has pulled off a feat that could not have been predicted. Over the course of the last year, he managed to garner the sort of support for himself and his party that took them well beyond the 272-mark in Parliament; he can now form the government without having to worry about getting allies. Is this feat an aberration, given how it was widely believed that coalition politics was here to stay? It was clear to some of us, by March 2013, that the Bharatiya Janata Party with Modi at its helm would cross the 250-mark in the Lok Sabha on its own, and that the Congress would manage seats in double digits, between 50 to 60. Those who disagreed with this were men and women from the Congress along with the ‘intelligentsia’; these people were constantly citing caste and class statistics and saying that the Muslim population and the Dalits would vote en masse against Modi. They spoke of secularism and predicted a volatile future for India with the ‘advent’ of Modi.

In the age of information and transparency, old paradigms have ceased to be relevant, and any analysis of future possibilities based on those archaic parameters is bound to fail. Political pundits did not think that the Hindu population could overcome caste and class distinctions in order to become one large vote-bank. However, that is what seems to have happened. The Dalit and Muslim populations, concerned about not contributing directly to a larger, changing democratic process, voted for the person they saw as a potential winner at the Centre.

But to deliberately cause the fragmentation of a polity in order to consolidate power would be enormously dangerous. Will Modi’s resounding victory ensure the dignity of life for all, sans any sort of discrimination? Could a definitive mandate like this one be the checks-and-balances mechanism required for inclusive growth and opportunity?

Clear choice

We need to wait and watch how the complex problems plaguing India — most of which were either neglected or badly handled by the previous dispensation — are addressed by Modi, if at all. How will he handle the country’s frayed relationships in the neighbourhood? Will India forget its powerful role in the region and bend to the will of a single super power on the latter’s terms? Will it assert its vital presence as arguably the largest bastion of human skill and resource in the world? Or will it sell itself cheap only to be one of the bigger nations known for their bullying of other countries? Will it only think about grabbing power and benefits for itself or will it respect human rights and the sovereignty of other nations?

Petty politicking was rejected by the voters this time. There were stalwarts from the BJP who broke away from the party, contested the elections on their own and lost decisively. They believed that they were invincible, a delusion that stemmed from their inability to see the truth and listen to the people. In present times, the old arrogance of power is no longer attractive or ‘charismatic’. This election has shown how easily that arrogance can be shattered. Those who lost their seats are in deep shock, and are probably trying to figure out the best way to face the real world once again.

The privileges afforded to those in power, of free houses and other amenities, made them complacent and arrogant. Now that they have to go back to living like ordinary human beings, their spirits have been dampened. It is sad that this is the biggest concern of those leaving power. It sums up the superficial commitment that many leaders have to their nation. Indians have to become far more vigilant and demanding. They must set the agenda for the future and ensure dignity and probity.