MAY 16, 2014
On May 16th, 2014, India spoke. And spoke loudly. Decisively. Giving a momentous verdict in favour of Modi Sarkar while collectively throwing out the existing government.
While it was a vote that the TV analysts had broadly predicted, no one in their wildest imagination had forseen the decisiveness of the vote by India. No ifs. No buts. It was a clear clear clear vote for Modi Sarkar. Not so much for the BJP, as much as for Mr. Modi.
And so, on the 26th of May, 2014, Mr. Narendra Damodardas Modi was sworn in as the 15th Prime Minister of India. He took oath with a massive majority of 282 seats (out of 428 contested). What was the biggest story perhaps was the 73 / 80 seats tally in Uttar Pradesh (after a near rout in the last election). And that is the BJP’s strength on its own. Along with its allies the NDA posted a total of 336 seats. The numbers were truly boggling.
This was clearly a job that Mr. Modi had wanted, and had planned for years in advance. It wasn’t a hastily put together campaign. It was planned — right down to the last detail. This was a war that had been planned to be won. And win it he did with fanfare and finality.
The win has been debated and analysed endlessly. But to my mind the reasons that people voted Mr. Modi into power are quite specific.
1. The people want a Government that WORKS: Let me start by telling you a small story. This happened a few weeks ago. A friend of mine — let’s call him Ashish — went to the Passport office for the renewal of his passport. Since he was well connected, he was received by a senior passport officer who then assisted him in getting his documents processed. Ashish waited in the officer’s room while the documents were getting done. He could not help but notice an air of purpose that seemed to pervade the passport office. People were scurrying about their business. It was not the usual laggard government office that he was seeing. When he went down to the other floor, he noticed that there was a floor manager who was conducting the business of the floor to ensure the smooth and efficient flow of work. Curious, he asked the passport officer what was going on. And this is broadly what the officer had to say: ‘Sir, you see the new government has brought a sense of purpose to everyone. Mr. Modi has placed a lot of faith in his bureaucrats and expects us to fulfil our responsibilities. Everyone is charged up and there is a new energy in the air.’
This is the faith that Mr. Modi generates. He brings a certain energy which is infectious. And the reason that it works is that he embodies the same. He embodies a work culture where work is truly treated as worship. And the results are the sweet Prasad at the end.
2. The people are sick of identity politics: The electorate has shown great maturity this time by voting outside identity lines (largely) and rejecting identity politics. The promise of ‘achchce din’ that Mr. Modi talked about has resonated with the people who are concerned with the real issues of life and living. While many may disagree, Mr. Modi’s staunch refusal to fall for ‘appeasement politics’ has shown great courage and honesty. And the people have believed in him. Stalwarts of the identity politics brigade have fallen to the wayside — all shown the door.
3. India wants a leader: This was no reluctant prince riding the bogey of family sacrifice. This was a man who had tirelessly endured condemnation and ridicule from every commentator and tv anchor, and had continued with determination nevertheless. India wanted a ‘doer’. Someone who would fix their lives, and not just dole out philosophy. Here was a man with a clear vision — and a grand one at that. And India wanted to share that vision.
4. India voted for intellectual honesty: India was sick of the lies, arrogance, scams and intellectual dishonesty of the previous government and its main actors. Far removed from the reality of life in real India, sops were the only idea they ever had. Nothing new.
India is ready to move on. India is enticed by the promise of a new and better life. Of being treated with dignity. Of getting a system that works. Of feeling pride in being Indian, again. Thankfully the new Government has no ‘coalition compulsions’ to deal with and is therefore perfectly placed to take tough decisions needed to put the country back on track.
However, this is also the time for the country to reflect. This is a time when we must also rise to the occasion. Writ in this victory is the fact that along with all our rights and expectations, we also have responsibilities to fulfil as citizens. It is time that we meet Mr. Modi halfway in helping fulfil his vision for a ‘viraat India’ once again.