Monday, 9 December 2019

To The Victor Goes The Spoils

Updated: May 31, 2014 5:44 pm

Narendra Modi is the Man of the Moment for Indian nation and an international leader in waiting to reckon with. Narendra Damodar Modi is the new ray of hope after the spectacular electoral success in 2014 general elections. A common man, an RSS Pracharak, a visionary chief minister is now the blue-eyed prime minister of Indian democracy. This bodes well, as it signifies that his three-term experience as Gujarat chief minister will be an able guidance for administering good governance.

His first tweet “INDIA has won” made it clear that he, and his Bharatiya Janata Party, had delivered a landslide victory beyond the expectations of almost everyone. The tremendous victory in this election is not only a reflection of the personal popularity of Narendra Modi, but also the utter disenchantment with the Congress-led government. The election results also display the depths to which the Congress had fallen after being led for over a decade by the weak Manmohan Singh government. The central campaigning role of Rahul Gandhi was a flop show.

The landslide victory also brings to an end the era of coalition governments, where parties with diverse agendas got into shotgun marriages of convenience to form governments. Narendra Modi will be free to make much-needed decisions and pursue policies, without having to first take consent of the various coalition partners. This victory will also ensure that the Common Minimum Programme that will be chalked out will be more on the lines of the policies of the BJP (read Sangh). This majority will also give him the leverage with the alliance partners while forming the Cabinet, the key ministerial positions need not be given away. In fact, Modi will be the first prime minister in 30 years who will enjoy a near-complete freedom to handpick his team of ministers.

For the Delhi-based political and bureaucratic elites, Modi is a rank outsider. This is one reason for the fear he inspires in the Indian capital. He comes from humble origins and grew up in a provincial town in the coastal state of Gujarat. He did not go to the best Indian schools and has never liked India’s capital. He is abstemious and eats simple Gujarati food. If much of Modi’s support is based in the hope that he can bring order to the chaos of modern India, some is also rooted in an inchoate resentment directed primarily at India’s political elite. Even though the final breakups are not yet in, it is apparent that both urban and rural voters have voted for the BJP under Modi’s premiership. Voters across all spectrums of sex, caste, religion, social milieu, and economic status have chosen him as the new messiah who will pull India out of the morass it is in today. In the map maintained by the Press Bureau of India, the saffron impact that has emerged after the final results has been shown from Kashmir to Kerala, if not yet all the way to Kanyakumari, it is now possible to make a road trip from the bottom of mainland India’s northernmost state all the way to the top of its southernmost state.

The scale of the BJP victory has ensured that India will get a government with a stable support in Parliament. The vote share claimed by the BJP, some 31 per cent nationally, is enormous by Indian electoral history. Combined with a historically high turnout, at 64 per cent, it gives Modi a huge mandate for his rule. It does not seem that any other party can offer any serious opposition to him. What now awaits the utterly defeated Congress party? While licking its wounds, the realisation has dawned that the party has no more the automatic right to lead the official opposition. In fact, it is not clear which other party could take the role. The right option would be that the Congress could split and a breakaway faction unites with politically inclined regional parties like the NCP in Maharashtra, the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal or the BJD in Odisha.

The unexpected outcome also means that enormous expectations will now rest on the BJP and Modi to start delivering changes quickly. He will be put under the microscope. His success will now depend on how effectively he empowers the private sector and how he implements the next phase of market-centered reforms. With nearly half of India’s 125 crore under 26, few Indians can even recall the 1991 reforms. India’s youth bulge can be an enormous asset or liability, depending on whether the government finds a fix for the woeful general education system and its linkage to job creation.

Indeed, markets rallied as early trends emerged. The Bombay Stock Exchange’s Sensex index rallied and crossed 25,000 for the first time. Business leaders have complained bitterly about the so-called policy paralysis that had set in during the second term of the UPA, from high-profile corruption scandals to a crisis of leadership. Investors expect that a Modi government that enjoys majority in Parliament will push through major economic reforms, cut red tape, and fast-track clearances, and generally make India a better place to deploy capital. Modi has always advocated a more muscular approach to national security, and has criticised the UPA government for going soft on internal and external challenges. America, Pakistan and China all are closely watching

Modi. Even though China is a traditional military rival to India, Modi has a fascination for that country’s economic rise, and has welcomed Chinese investors to Gujarat and has gone on tours there. With the United States, Modi will likely share an uneasy equation, as the country has denied him a visa due to his alleged record during the Gujarat riots. Obama’s congratulatory call and his invitation show which way the Americans are going to go.

Good times are here. India’s second tryst with destiny has come. Last but not least, one leader who has really made the road ahead for Modi is BJP’s National President Rajnath Singh and now Singh is King-maker of a new arena of saffron politics. Future would like to see again the Modi-Rajnath age as was witnessed during the Atal-Advani era. Rest is history.

Deepak Kumar Rath

Deepak Kumar Rath

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