“And these promises broken, tippicult,
Each word gets lost in the echo.”
If someone would have asked me to choose the one song to describe the scenario in Indian politics before any poll, I would have closed my eyes and chosen this one. All of us are more than aware of the eternal images of politicians promising everything under the sun in their rallies, and then forgetting them for the next 5 years. This time, however, it seems to be a bit different (Or so I hope).
The BJP’s Narendrabhai Damodardas Modi has been swept into power by an India that still does not understand what has fully happened, despite giving him 31% of the vote. Public disgust has led to the decimation of the Congress led UPA Government, with all the good work they did in the first 5 years of their reign (strengthening nuclear ties with America, RTI) seemingly being undone by a series of scams (2G, Coal Block allocation, CWG), the ever-increasing inflation and dearth of job opportunities and the propagation of the fact that the PM Dr. Manmohan Singh was nothing but a mere puppet in the hands of the all-powerful Congress leader Mrs. Sonia Gandhi. Moreover, the multi-crore publicity blitz that the Bharatiya Janta Party has splashed in this electoral run in promoting Narendra Modi as a “savior” who can “save” this nation from destruction has also gone down very well with the public, and especially the youth of today, who are far less deferential to the traditional voting patterns that are focused on family lineage and caste and are far more inclined to elect someone who will ensure robust economic development and jobs. Hence, even in its hour of triumph, the BJP must acknowledge that it was the dual factor of the creation of a corporate class via the television, the social media as well as the over publicized ineffectiveness of the previous Government which has helped them gain an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha for the first time since 1984.
The image Modi has projected of himself is that of an honest, forward-looking politician who could bring an end to unemployment and spiraling inflation, who could control prices, and who could take India on the corporate path even as he preserved the interests of the not-so-fortunate sections of the society. And that is the exact promise he must live up to. His words of “achchhe din aayenge” had galvanized the youth, who were also impressed by his “Gujarat model” and obviously believed; that he could do the same on the national level.it was this mantra which cut across caste barriers with the promise of development.
The thing to see, however, is the manner in which Modi will try to handle the 3 M’s, or the 3 issues in particular which he has promised to address – Mandal, Mandir and Market. The market, of course, has almost immediately responded to the vision of a stable, no-coalition Government. As such, Modi is now favourably placed as a politician committed to development at all costs.
The Mandal factor was a little more subtle, with critics worried that his rise could worsen the secretarian tensions between India’s majority Hindus and its 138 million Muslims. However, even that factor was played down eventually, as he was foolishly handed the “chai wallah” status by Congress party’s Mani Shankar Aiyar. As such, a colossal number of backward castes have voted for him, who connected with him as a man of their own, a leader with humble beginnings and a politician who could finally ensure their progress, given that he is their own kind. The “Mandir” card, was however, a stroke of genius. The BJP repeatedly made it clear that it would not change its stay on the mandir issue, and cleverly linked it to the uniform civil code and the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. It will be interesting to see, as to how Modi will handle the three components that have brought him where he is, and whether he will be able to handle the dichotomy within them. As of right now, Modi has to give teeth to his campaign, balance the various factions in his party, ensure that his history of “administering violence” does not come in the way of foreign investments and move the country firmly towards inclusive development, which is probably the only kind that works.