The results of 2019 Lok Sabha elections have surprised many political analysts, mediapersons and social activists.
Indians by nature are emotional and express their displeasure with politicians, governance and everything around them too frequently. Analysts living in a cocoon often make the mistake of forming opinions and jumping to conclusions on the basis of such expressed or imagined dissatisfaction.
Those who view the world from narrow economic perspectives often assume that temporary availability of money and goods can overshadow all other concerns of Indians. Concerns like faith, self-respect, sense of security, commitment to family, society and country, cultural and national pride are often played down, even ridiculed, by such analysts. Brainwashed by ideas borrowed from the West, such “intellectual elites” completely miss the pulse of nation and its people. The 2019 Lok Sabha election results have once again exposed their lack of connect with Indian masses.
Frustrated by their inability to properly understand the public mood before and during the elections, these elites are now busy finding excuses. Filled with arrogance, they have begun to blame the voters for having made the “wrong” decision.
The Mind Of The Voter
Every voter faces several problems in life. Most are self-created, though some are situational and beyond control. But everyone has to somehow find solutions, short-lived or permanent. Safety concerns or economic hardships demand immediate solutions, whereas challenges before faith and identity need careful resolution.
Indians, troubled for long by faulty economic policies, widespread corruption, purposeless education, dynastic politics, insensitive bureaucracy and arrogant judiciary, were further burdened with a perverted interpretation of secularism, which began to hit at the very idea of being Indian. Age-old principles of tolerance, equality and peaceful co-existence came under attack for short-term benefits of vote bank politics. Discrimination, denigration and denial became much abused tools to marginalize and hurt the majority. Laws were changed, policies were made and programmes were implemented to demolish the native beliefs and subjugate their followers.
Anger kept on rising against the manipulative exploiters, but people knew the battle was going to be a long one. Politicians were not interested to fight corruption, bureaucrats and judges were least concerned about rising disparities, and academicians were happy parroting borrowed wisdom.
Nobody cared for the real India, the most ancient civilization and its universal appeal. Everyone wanted to impose some alien idea on the tolerant Indian masses. Learning traditions got destroyed, business ethics got diminished, and administrative ideals got corrupted.
But Indians didn’t lose hope. They kept on struggling, surviving and shining. But only at the personal level. Collective efforts needed more confidence and courage.
Enter Narendra Modi
The time was ripe for Narendra Modi. He started getting attention as chief minister of Gujarat. His leadership abilities began to impress ordinary Indians. But he displayed patience and waited for his time. The enemies of Indianness realised early that he could be a challenger to their exploitative empire, and they let loose their dependents after him. Modi came under unprecedented attack from all sides, yet he survived and stayed firm.
The year 2014 came and brought a much awaited change in the priorities of the government. Plans and programmes were made to minimise leakage of welfare schemes. Red beacons got removed. Officials were instructed to reach the intended beneficiaries and maintain transparent data of progress made. Direct benefit transfer to bank accounts, subsidies for homes, construction of toilets, gas cylinders for cooking and electricity in dark villages brought much awaited smile to the distressed people.
Firm response to terrorists and their sponsors, and confident dealing with the world, made people feel safe and secure. Bold decisions to curb black economy and reform tax structure were also appreciated by people, despite experiencing labour pains.
Unapologetic encouragement to yoga, ayurveda and native wisdom instilled self-respect among the people. After a long time, here was a leader who was not ashamed about his Indian roots and beliefs.
The Patient People
But people wanted more. And they were willing to give more time and more chances. Despite continuous distractions created by political dynasts and their dependents in different fields, people remained focused. Constant reminders about their economic problems and frequent instigations on caste, language, region and gender lines didn’t diminish the faith of masses in Modi.
He was denigrated, derided and defamed, but they failed to get him derailed.
Modi is back with more votes, more seats and more confidence than he had in 2014. And he has gained in experience. A lot more needs to be done to make this nation great again. A long journey has just started.
Kuldeep Ratnoo is director of India Policy Foundation, a Delhi-based think-tank.