A day of rejoicing, of fear, of relief or disappointment – this is anything but an ordinary day. For those of us who are politically aware, being dispassionate about Mr. Narendra Modi is not an option – within the spectrum of that “56-inch Chest”, one is either here or there.
I can’t say I didn’t see this coming; neither can I say I knew it would come so decisively.
With 282 seats in the Lok Sabha, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will form the first non-Congress single-party government in the history of independent India. This is massive. Massive not just for the BJP’s fortunes, but for the fact that a non-coalition government finally takes control of parliament after 25 years. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s government in 1984 was the last decisive mandate the Indian people gave their parliament.
In deference to our electoral system, I respect this verdict and I do it with good faith, regardless of whether I am proud of it.
Some, who know of my political views, may wonder why I accept the verdict without a jerk. When the writings on the wall were more or less clear this morning, some of my friends had written to me enquiring if I was upset.
To be honest: I’m not. But I’m not necessarily elated either. I do feel some resistance, of course, but I am more anxious than anything else.
My opposition to Mr. Narendra Modi was never personal. I disliked his politics, and I still do. However so, my critique of him doesn’t equate to a supportive stance towards the Congress, the AAP or to anybody else for that matter. I tend to avoid identifying myself with a cult or a group; the relatively dispassionate instinct I derive from this lets me form my views based on what my heart and intellect says, and not based on what my biases direct them to say. Mr. Modi, for reasons I have elaborated extensively on in the past, does not fundamentally resonate with who I am.
That said, what many fail to realise, is that a political opinion is not an end in itself. It points to a concept of a better tomorrow, the sensation of which all of us collectively wish to enjoy, regardless of where we are on the ideological compass.
At this stage, we have been given a government with a decisive mandate. I am willing to set my political opinions aside to serve the larger tasks ahead of us, objectively. It would be thoroughly ungracious for me to be otherwise.
Majority strength in parliament gives the government of the day freedom to carry-out its mandate. ‘Coalition Dharma’ cannot be used as an excuse for bad governance anymore. Effective governance is the dire need of the hour; the outgoing government failed unquestionably on this front. I would like to watch the Prime Minister (elect) fulfil the promise of good governance with which the people have brought him to power.
An angry electorate, seething with disgust against the incumbent, voted Mr. Modi to office. Now, the mood with the same electorate is filled with that of hope or anxiety. It’s very easy to flout on public aspirations. Even Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s honeymoon with the masses ended two years after his landslide victory in 1984.
Mr. Modi has vital tasks ahead of him; the obvious of which are reviving a wounded economy, establishing stature to our foreign office, striking a balance between Welfarism and market aspirations, reinventing our strategic systems and machinery, the list goes on.
There are some subtler, equally vital, issues that he must tend to as well.
Since 1969, this is the first time in which no single party has emerged as the clear leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha. In providing for the effective voice of a fractured opposition is a responsibility Mr. Modi must genuinely commit himself to as the Leader of the House. Given his contentious persona, he faces the added challenge of ensuring that the vast diversities of our soil are brought together in dialogue and humane understanding. Implicit in this is that while ‘minority appeasement’ is not appreciated, it is the moral duty of a majority community to safeguard the interests of the minorities as well. ‘Consensus’, therefore, is the watchword here.
The role of citizen in a plural democracy (or any democracy, for that matter) does not end with the ballot box. Eternal vigilance is the price we pay as citizens of this free society; if we are not prepared to be eternally vigilant, we might even lose the inherent freedoms and plurality that make our country so great. It is easier to throw-off a foreign tyranny than the tyranny of our own elected representatives, make no mistake.
In saying this, I faithfully but watchfully welcome and join the new government in its efforts onward.