The recent times had seen many major national and international news. The power politics in Crimea’s annexure, Food Security Bill, the Supreme Court judgement of criminalisation of homosexuality (Section 377), the introduction of NOTA by Election Commission, ISRO’s debatable expenditure of 450 Crores for Mangalyaan are few of them. Another important thing that gained huge attention in media and otherwise is the Modi-mania in the recent General Elections 2014.
India did not want a new leader, nor an old one, but a leader with a new perspective, and Modi symbolised that. With the phrase of ‘good times ahead’, and Modi’s talk of ‘vikas’, BJP won an outright majority—282 of the 543 elected seats in Parliament’s lower house. Only Congress has ever won a majority by itself before, and it has not had one for 30 years. Meanwhile, Congress has been routed, retaining only 44 seats. Given the sense of let-down Indian voters have for governments they elect, Modi’s ratings are staggering. They speak for a trust in him and a sense of optimism.
In every speech Mr Modi listed practical gains that flowed from his rule in Gujarat: reliable power and water, decent roads, flourishing industry, less of the most corrosive forms of graft. The GDP growth rate of Gujarat has been 11.05% over the past few years. He swears by good governance and urban development and the masses have a huge expectation from him to get us out of the staggering rut the country is in. But is Gujarat model sustainable at a national level? Foreign investment might take a hit on local entrepreneus and monopolies might begin to form.
He has the full support of business tycoons llike Ratan Tata and Mukesh Ambani. Infact, he is equally supportive by offering tax breaks or land at concessional rates to big companies. He has been called a ‘crony capitalist’. Will the increase in science and technology and big multi-nationals and hence increased employment be at the cost of marginalisation and sidelining of tribal and indigenous groups, who make up a huge percentage of the population?
With BJP having the majority in Lok Sabha, and a support from leading business-men, and Modi’s stress on ‘less government’ and ‘more governance’, and his history of walking away from interviews when faced with tough questions, he is not wrongly being called authoritarian. He is a powerful person in-charge and can actually take actions, unlike Manmohan Singh, who has been called ‘the accidental prime minister’ by Sanjaya Baru in his latest book. No opposition is tolerated in Modi’s Gujarat. Being the prime minister of a major democratic country, the PM must be answerable to the people, and must engage in a healthy dialogue with the nation.
The Modi wave has hit the hearts of the youth. By correctly projecting his story of rise from being a small tea-stall owner, and giving emphasis to self-growth, the youth finally has a persona they can relate to. The 63-year old bearded Modi, who has been recently hailed as ‘the newest fashion icon’ by US media is the most tech-savvy Indian politician.
Going by the Pakistan President Nawaz Sharif being invited to Modi’s inauguration as the PM, and Modi’s awaited September visit to the US, invited by Barack Obama, there is a bright future for the foreign relations in the coming years. It would also prove to be a boom to the Indian economy.
There are various paradoxes in his party, though. The huge turnout at voting in one favour showed a clear distinction from earlier elections- this one was guided by a desire to see a change, and that too in the form of development, job opportunities and a growing trade, and not in the form of communist and religious ideals. At the same time, BJP’s latest election manifesto reintroduces a proposal to build a temple to the Hindu god Ram on the site of a medieval mosque in the northern town of Ayodhya. Of the 449 B.J.P. candidates now running for seats in the lower house of Parliament, all but eight are Hindu. Chetan Bhagat in a recent article in The Times of India on the popularity of Modi said that a leader representing ‘Hindu pride’ will find resonance.
Even with the paradoxes, the new government might be the best thing to happen to India, and may be the worst nightmare. But as the Indians have already placed a bet on it for the next five years, let’s give the government atleast two years before heralding the coming of ‘good times’.
Dated: 4th July, 2014