Can There Be A New, Resurgent India? : NEXT TWO YEARS WILL BE CRUCIAL

The election results are out and the entire country has gone one way. Actually it is North India that has gone one way as it did in 1971 and 1977. People are comparing this with 1984 because that was the last time a single party got a majority. But in 1984, it was a sympathy wave after the assassination of Indira Gandhi due to which the Congress won. On the other hand the 1971 vote was a Garibi Hatao platform of Indira Gandhi and the 1977 vote was the anger against the Emergency. This 2014 election is anger against the scams which came out by the CAG reports, running into — not crores, not thousands of crores but lakhs of thousands of crores. It was too much for ordinary persons to swallow. Already reeling under inflation, under unemployment, under so many other daily problems of life, they could not adjust to the fact that the rulers are not only indulging in corruption but it is almost a loot of the treasury. That anger got channelised into votes by the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party which played its cards remarkably well. As people will notice their manifesto of 2014 has got the Ram Mandir buried in some inside page and Article 370 also relegated to the background. Their main agenda is the same as the Congress party, mainly development, employment, taking care of the vulnerable sections of the people etc. In fact when that manifesto was released, the Congress party called it a copy of its own manifesto, which was correct. They did not realise the irony that by copying the plank of the Congress party the BJP is positioning itself as a centre, an all inclusive party rather than a divisive or a polarising force.
It is all right for commentators to say that the election was polarised. But, the fact of the matter is, very cleverly Mr. Narendra Modi has avoided talking of temple, talking of Hindu unity. He stuck to development, infrastructure, employment etc. These are the very planks on which the Congress party was ruling since Independence. In 1977 the then Jan Sangh had merged itself into the Janata party. Jai Prakash Narain had helped the Jan Sangh people to come into the mainstream since before that they had this blot that in some way they were connected with the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. In the 1980s, they made a cardinal mistake of coming out of the Janata party and again forming a BJP in the 1980s, thereby again pushing themselves colored by saffron, colored by Hindu chauvinism, colored by an anti inclusive attitude. In 1998, they made a Government for 5-6 years largely because of the personality of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and that too with a coalition. How come in 2014, they have come to power on their own, because what has come to power today is a new Congress. The BJP of today is a rehashed version of the Congress party. I do not know what will happen in the future. I do not know whether Mr. Narendra Modi will really occupy the central space which the electorate has given him. Today the electorate, take UP for example, they won 71 out of 80 seats, which means caste is not a consideration except that Mulayam Singh Yadav got 7 seats but Mayawati’s party got nothing. It means Dalits have voted for the BJP. If the BJP having gained this central space, if they can really convert this into their long term vision, they will become the new Congress. The Congress has pushed itself into a really very sad position. And even to come up and live up to it’s own ideas, it will find itself in a very-very difficult situation. They need a leader. All is not lost for Congress. They are a big party. Their presence is in all parts of the country. But they need a renewed effort and especially against this kind of a BJP. What the Congress can wish the best can happen is — the BJP again falls into this temple and all outdated things which people are not finding attractive anymore. Then there will be an opportunity for the Congress. But, really if Narendra Modi walks the talk and if he really has a modern mind and if he can take a leaf from the book of Jawahar Lal Nehru then happy days are there for the BJP. The consolation for people like us is that it is not one party or other but the inclusive nature of the Indian polity should be maintained. Our objection to the BJP or to the Sangh Parivar is the divisive religious philosophy. Their breaking down of the Babri Masjid, the massacre of the Muslims, all that is now 20 and 10 years away. But, if they can turn a new leaf that in the India of 2014 where the youngsters are the majority all this will not do, all this is gone. How to soothe the pain of the 1984 Sikh riots, the 1992 Babri Masjid or the 2002 Gujarat riots, I do not know. The minimum they should do in 2014 is say all that is in the past, they should talk about a new resurgent India. Do not talk of Hindu-Muslim. And yes, as long as you talk of having good relations with China and Pakistan on your own terms and holding your own while dealing with America, there is no problem. Our bureaucracy is in place. Our foreign policy is in place. The framework has become frayed in ten years of Congress rule. The bureaucracy has not behaved the way they should have performed. But a new leadership can motivate the bureaucracy. The next two years are crucial for the performance of the new Government and for us to imagine what kind of a future we are in for.

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