India is awake, but Modiphobia continues

What a time it has been! What a week! Who would have thought that Indian politics could change so much so quickly? As someone who has been boasting a lot lately about having spotted a Modi wave before anyone else did, I need to admit that not even I expected the BJP to get a full majority on its own. On the morning of May 16, I woke at 4.30 am to get to the Headlines Today studios in Noida before 7 am, when they were due to begin their special show on the election results. The studios are a long way from where I live, so I miscalculated the time it would take and got their earlier than I thought I would and so found myself chatting to fellow political pundits in the green room. There were academics, psephologists and us humble hacks in the gathering and over cups of milky instant coffee we speculated and speculated and speculated.
The academics were Leftists and virulently against the possibility of Narendra Modi becoming India’s next Prime Minister. So, they gave the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) no more than 220 seats. Were they saying then that Modi would not be the Prime Minister, I asked, and because even they were not sure that they could be certain of this they prevaricated and dithered. When the show began, there was more time to talk and speculate because the first results were not due till 8.30 am. When the first trends started coming and showed that the BJP was winning at least three times as many seats as Congress, Rahul Kanwal asked us to make our predictions and not even our venerable pollster, Ashok Lahiri, was willing to give the NDA more than 272. But, I recklessly stuck my neck out and said that I believed that the final tally would be more than 300 seats and this seemed to shock everyone.
Narendra Modi’s only ideology is development
By the time, the first results started coming, Karan Thapar had joined our panel and kept pointing out that we must not mislead viewers. So, he repeated many times that only postal ballots were being counted in the first half an hour. When the counting of the other votes began and the tally for BJP+ continued to be three times what it was for Congress+, Karan insisted that we point out that these were still only trends. He continued his cautionary warnings even after Vir Sanghvi and I said we were calling the election around 10 am. Vir called it first and I did fifteen minutes later. But, it was not till late that afternoon that it became completely clear that the BJP was going to become the first political party in thirty years to form a Government without needing a coalition.
There is only one reason for this spectacular victory and it is Narendra Modi. Without him, I can tell you with complete certainty that the BJP would have hardly got beyond 100 seats. If they have got 71 in Uttar Pradesh alone, it is because the Modi wave swept aside the caste chieftains who have ruled this State in turns for two decades. By winning on the basis of caste divisions, they kept India’s largest State desperately poor and hopelessly backward and voters noticed, so when a man came along promising ‘Sab ka saath, sab ka vikas’, they were ready to believe him. The people I talked to on my travels in UP, nearly all said they were sick of being manipulated in the name of caste and creed and were ready to give Modi a chance because he talked about ‘vikas’ and ‘parivartan’ and development and change was what they wanted more than anything else. This is what caused the Modi wave to spread across northern and western India and trickle into eastern and southern States where the BJP had never existed.
So, in a few days, India will have a new Prime Minister who could change, forever, the political culture that has existed under decades of Congress rule. Not everyone is pleased. Famous writers with Leftist and secular credentials have been writing hysterical articles in the western media about how India’s ‘pluralism’ is now ended. Pankaj Mishra has gone so far as to write in The Guardian that India has elected a mass murderer. ‘But for now some Indians have dreamed collectively, and they have dreamed a man accused of mass murder’.
What Leftists won’t tell you about Modi’s ‘pro-industrialist obsession’
Leftist writers usually have a high opinion of their certitudes and so have no problem insulting the intelligence of the vast majority of Indians who do not see Modi as a mass murderer. There have been doomsday predictions on television and in our newspapers on a daily basis since the results came, with some devotees of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty going so far as to speak of ‘darkness’ descending. Political commentators who compared Modi to Hitler during the election campaign are so furious with the election results that they have taken to appear grumpily on TV chat shows daily to criticise every move that Modi has made since he won. One venerable former editor accused him on Nidhi Razdan’s show of insulting history by not remembering Nehru and Gandhi when he spoke in the Central Hall of Parliament. He seems to have missed the point that to most Indians today, especially younger ones, it is not the freedom movement that matters as much as the future. If first time voters have voted for Modi more resoundingly than any other group, it is because they hope that he will be able to create for them the possibility of a better life.
Modi has noticed this and emphasised in his first speech in the Parliament that this election has been about hope more than anything else. It is unfortunate that India’s so-called liberals have missed this and continue to wallow in doomsday predictions. It is unfortunate that most of the Western media has missed this as well because by next week, their Presidents and Prime Ministers are going to have to start doing business with a man they continue to revile.
So, while India awakes, to use that famous Nehruvian phrase, to an era that could bring immense change and development, the world is being led by writers of the Pankaj Mishra genre to believe that we enter a ‘sinister’ period. If Mishra spent more time in India than in London, he may have found it easier to understand why so many Indians voted for a man he considers a mass murderer.

Niti Central

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