A MUST READ FOR ALL NEW INDIAN ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICE (IAS) OFFICER EXAMINATION CANDIDATES
Saturday, May 31, 2014
BLUFFING MEDIA AND THE LIBERALS ARE DEAD WRONG IN THEIR WRONG HEADED ASSESSMENT OF MODI AND HIS NATIONALIST SUPPORTERS AND THE MANDATE OF 544 MILLION PEACEFUL VOTERS OF THE LARGEST PROUD DEMOCRACY OF THE WORLD
We goofed. Every assumption we made during the election campaign has been savaged. Each one was premised on the values we cherish — freedom, justice and fraternity. Yet all that we did to promote them was to create fear in the minds of voters: fear of Hindu nationalists gaining control of levers of the state. It prompted us to clutch at the slenderest straw in the wind. That compounded our discomfiture.
We assumed, for example, that while Congress was fated to pay dearly for its follies, its tally of seats would allow it to be at least a bit player in the formation of the next government. That didn’t happen. We also reckoned that BJP-led NDA would fail to reach the halfway mark. This would compel it to rope in ‘secular’ non-Congress, non-Left regional parties to take a shot at governance. The latter, we took for granted, would extract their pound of flesh: deny Narendra Modi any role in the new dispensation.
Towards this goal we added our two-penny bit. We missed no chance to harp on Modi’s RSS background. Time and again we raked up the 2002 violence in Gujarat. We pooh-poohed the ‘clean chit’ the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team and a lower court in Ahmedabad had given Modi. We picked gaping holes in his much-vaunted development model. And when this was not enough to corner BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, we latched on to Snoopgate. On all these counts, we came a cropper.
Congress suffered its worst rout in history. So did the Left parties. Caste-based formations that wore secularism on their sleeves were flattened too. On the other hand, BJP got what it wanted: a 272+ outcome. No non-Congress party had secured a majority on its own since the first general elections in 1952. Add to this the seats gained by BJP’s pre-poll allies. That placed NDA in an invincible position.
So why did we lose the plot? The plain answer is that we misread the nation’s mood. We didn’t gauge the depth and sweep of the rage against UPA. The dread possibility of ‘communal’ forces coming to power, we believed, would override all other concerns of the electorate, including the lacklustre leadership of the UPA government and of Rahul Gandhi, Congress’s undeclared mascot. We drew a blank.
An equally miserable failure of ours was to underestimate the spell Modi cast on the electorate. Armed with a high-tech media blitz, he led an intensive, spirited campaign built around his personality. He tapped into voters’ dismay and frustration over the ineptitude and shenanigans of the Manmohan Singh dispensation. He pinned responsibility on the Gandhi family’s dynastic rule. He also tapped into voters’ yearning for a leader endowed with the will and aptitude to bring prosperity to the people, ensure clean and effective governance, provide security and instil national pride in citizens.
We made light of all this. The so-called Modi wave, we argued, was the handiwork of media that had been bought over by India Inc. Poll results showed how hopelessly we were off the mark: education, jobs, sound civic services and good governance mattered more to voters than narratives of victimhood replete with populist promises.
We still try to comfort ourselves with the thought that almost seven out of 10 voters didn’t cast their lot with BJP. Comfort can’t get colder than this. What we need is to acknowledge the flaws in our idea of secularism. Correctly or otherwise, it has been perceived as a hostile attitude to even the most uplifting traditions of India’s myriad religious and spiritual traditions. And, by that token, it has been equated with an indulgent attitude to Muslim extremism. A course correction is in order.
We also need to renounce our animus against economic reforms and modernisation of our armed forces. At the same time, we must not lower our vigil to ensure that casteist, communal, sexist, hyper-nationalist and regional chauvinist forces of all shades do not threaten the fundamental rights of citizens. These rights are the foundation on which rests the edifice of our Republic. And we remain its steadfast sentinels.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.