Sunday, June 16, 2024

Takeaways from LS Elections 2024


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By Toki Blah

On June 6, this year, leaders of Democracies in Europe and of North America, gathered together in commemoration of that historic D-Day, June 6, 1944 where so many sacrificed their lives on the bloody beaches of Normandy , France for the sake of Freedom and Democracy. 80 years down the line, on June 4, 2024, 140 crore Indians exhibited to the entire world the results of how they too endorsed their concept of Freedom , Liberty and Democracy. This time through the ballot box. Polling to elect 543 Members to the Lok Sabha started from April 19, 2024 , throughout the length and breadth of the country , in seven phases , to end on June 1, 2024. The results of these elections were then declared in a single day on June 4, 2024.
Now regardless of the results of this election, as an Indian I stand proud of the fact that India and its teeming millions were able to accomplish the concept of adult franchise, that too by a majority of a poverty ridden rural electorate, patiently queueing up under a blistering pre- monsoon sun, with such grace, poise and elegance with nary any incidences of violence and bloodshed. Prouder still of the fact that this motley lot of semi-literate voters were able to make the so-called political pundits and their exit poll predictions bite the dust. The people of India proved that they can exercise their own political common-sense with no smart ass urban elite telling them what to do, Thank -You –So- Much . Credit must also be given to the much maligned ECI for the smooth conduct of these elections. It did its job! The polling exercise was a mammoth endeavour and I am proud that we Indians pulled it off with such elan much to the surprise and perhaps envy of other older and also contemporary democracies the world over.
A new Union Govt has now been formed under the Modi 3.0 sarkar. It is a totally different version of the much touted pre-election, 400 par BJP juggernaut promised by the Sangh Parivar and its allies. In the peoples’ mandate the BJP barely managed to scrape through to 240 seats. The results it produced were astounding. The BJP shockingly and suddenly discovered that they just couldn’t form the Govt on their own. The “400 par” boast instantly vanished as hot air from a pricked balloon. A certain BJP “High Level” leader who recently had been tinkering with the idea of divinity for himself, quickly discovered that his feet were actually made of clay and rapidly clambered down from whatever Mount Olympus he had dreamed up for himself. The sad truth had to be accepted. The BJP had to find partners for itself just to form the basic numbers for a new Government. Fond and cherished, pre- poll dreams had to be discarded like soiled underwear and new strategies for survival had to be found and quickly. For many a BJP stalwart, Oliver Goldsmith’s play, “She Stoops to Conquer,” must have made a lot of sense and to survive they must stoop and accept the reality of a coalition Government. No other way out!
This mixed bag of a new Indian Government at the centre has now been sworn in. Narendra Modi will retain his PM-ship but he will be stepping into uncharted territory. For the last 10 years India had been governed by autocracy. From today onwards consultation, discussions and sounding out coalition partners will become a must. Party ideologies might have to be swept backstage if the Govt is to survive. For a once sure footed autocrat to find himself standing on a slipper carpet that can be jerked from under his feet could be most disorienting. Citizens have done their job! Now they wait with mixed expectations to see if Modi can manage and handle a consultation based coalition! Not many tears however will be shed at the diminished powers of the PMO!
Speaking of expectations we Indians will anxiously be watching the performance of NDA 3.0. A strong democracy also demands a strong and vibrant Opposition. The beauty of this election is that the people of India have been able to show their understanding of democracy by voting for such an opposition. Governance in the future shall no longer exemplify a runaway horse. The Executive shall be treading on eggshells. It can’t just bulldoze its style of governance through Parliament as it did in the last 10 years. Aside from consultations within its own ranks the Government also needs to publicly enunciate its policies for both Home and External affairs. On the domestic front the opposition will keenly be watching on how this Government deals with pressing issues such as poverty, unemployment, inflation and growth of the economy.
On the International stage where India is emerging as a major player, the resurgence of a new World Order; the revival of a new Cold War with all its hazards of a nuclear holocaust; the reshaping of new alliances; the threat of a China with dreams of world domination, the importance of the Indo-Pacific region as a pivot for world peace and global order are challenges that India shall have to address and articulate if it wishes to retain its image as a world power.
As this new Government forges ahead on how to bring growth and development to the country; as we strive to stake claim on the world stage, we have to be clear and lucid on what we want the world to hear and see. Transparency and clarity on both domestic and global issues shall therefore be a prerequisite that shall need both polish and refinement. Policies and intentions can no longer be articulated through placid and lackadaisical Godi media channels nor via rambling discourses of a weekly Mann ki Baat programme ( or “monkey baths” as the international press sneeringly calls them) The PM should now be prepared to face the rough and tumble of regular press conferences, however fearsome and intimidating they might appear to be..
Nearer home the Lok Sabha elections brought in electrifying and unexpected results. In the Khasi and Jaintia Hills, the newly formed Voice of the People Party (VPP) romped in home with a huge majority over its more established opponents. The “Clean Politics” call of the VPP trampled underfoot with undisguised contempt the customary “money for votes” tactics that Meghalaya politics had for so long depended on. The, “Ha u Prah,” chant and song caught the imagination and stirred the emotions of a fatigued electorate that has had its fill of the corruption in the so-called, “High Level,” echelons of politics. The counting on June 4, clearly established the fact that the people wanted change, especially change in the mode of governance. The VPP carried the day and their expectations to do the same on the forthcoming KHADC and JHADC elections is justified. It is however hoped that the VPP also comes out with their vision for both the jaded District Councils, otherwise, they will simply end up as just another regional party out to grab power by whatever means.
In the Garo Hills the voter also expressed his dissatisfaction with the non-performance of its incumbent MP of the NPP. Here too the people’s desire for change brought victory to the Congress candidate, Saleng Sangma. It is therefore prudent to analyse what is this so-called change that the people of Meghalaya are hungry for. It should not be interpreted nor confined as a demand for a change of faces or Parties only. To do so would be betraying the people who have chosen these MPs and the parties they belong to. To me the people thirst for clean governance; for a Government and a system of governance that brings Hope for the future and delivers on its promises to the present; for a system of governance that remains relevant to the needs of the poor and the downtrodden. A change from a governance that feeds the rich and ‘High Level’ to one that is sensitive to the hunger and cravings of the needy. This is the change the people yearn for.
My only hope is that the powers that be shall not once again let down the simple folks that brought them to power.


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