Sunday, July 21, 2024

Peoples’ power


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The half verdict that Modi has managed this election tells us that voters can never be taken for granted. Having set a target of 400 + and finishing at the halfway mark is a big jolt for the BJP. This is especially true because all political pundits and psephologists had put out highly bloated figures as their prediction. Modi may be poised for a historic third successive term but to many this is a pyrrhic victory. Barely a couple of months before elections were announced, the BJP was upbeat and with some justification. Riding on a wave of religious fervour created over the Ram Temple construction at Ayodhya and backed by a wide perception created by the mainstream media, who would have imagined that the BJP would receive such a drubbing in Uttar Pradesh itself. It surely confirms that religious polarisation has its limit. That a large chunk of Hindu voters refused to fall for BJP’s brand of political Hinduism should tell Modi that at the end of the day it’s the common man’s existential issue which has taken precedence over religion.
This split verdict is a stern reminder that India is a plural nation and not everybody is prepared to buy the idea of forced uniformity. Be it the Dravidians along with their neighbouring southern milieu, or small Northeastern tribal states like Meghalaya, Manipur or Nagaland the verdict is clearly against imposition from the Centre. In his third term, the question that should be uppermost in most discerning citizens is: Will Modi learn any lessons and try to win hearts rather than browbeating them will be critical to holding the nation together. The Congress-led INDIA alliance which virtually fought with its hands tied after the Congress Party’s accounts were frozen has sprung a surprise. They have put up a creditable fight. No one gave them any chance. Rahul Gandhi was constantly ridiculed beyond proportion. If electoral success is the be all and end all, now that Rahul Gandhi has scored twin successes, at least he should be spared of personal attacks. Decency and civility in public discourses need to be restored and Modi himself should lead from the front.
In what is a lesson in adversity, in the changed political contours, the BJP will now have to rely on its allies for the next five years for its survival – a prospect that Modi did not anticipate with the, “char sau paar,” slogan. How well the BJP manages its allies will depend on how much flexibility the party shows. Closer home, the results were not too surprising. Voters of Shillong and Tura constituencies voted for change. The NPP’s tie-up with the BJP alienated a large chunk of voters that see the BJP as a fundamentalist, right wing party out to impose its writ on minorities – from the CAA to the UCC and the witch-hunting of Christian minority institutions in the neighbouring Assam. The people have voted and demonstrated their power to bring down the high and mighty. Their mandate must be respected.


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