At the end of a hard-fought election campaign, where bitterness and anger flowed with the money, D-day has arrived. Seven phases of polling are done and dusted. The votes are being counted. And the result, at least on the basis of the first four hour’s counting are clear – there is a resounding mandate for a second term for Modi. The UPA seems to have done better than last time but given that they had a miserable result in 2014, it was a very low base to compete against. At the time of writing, they hadn’t yet crossed the century mark in terms of seats. Despite murmurs about joblessness, farmer distress, unhappiness over GST and demonetisation, Modi has once again carried the elections for his party. The thing to remember when analysing this result is that people have voted for the Modi charisma. The term ‘Tsunamo’ coined by the media is apt to describe his impact on the voters, who turned out in droves to vote for him. At the time of writing, the NDA was leading in 341 seats – and the lead margin is strong enough to call the elections in their favour. The Third Front that many hoped for – a combination of Mamata Banerjee and Mayawati at the Centre – gave enough nightmares to even opponents of the BJP, and never materialised.
For many, this is a chance to turn their guns on their favourite target – Rahul Gandhi, and calls for his head, accompanied by a chorus baying for his blood, will fill our TV screens and consume several tonnes of print. And those who do that do a disservice to both Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi. Narendra Modi won, not because Rahul Gandhi was terrible. He won because voters were convinced that Modi was the best person to lead India for the next five years. They bought into the vision of India put forth by Modi. And while Rahul Gandhi was able to overcome the ‘
pappu’ tag that followed him throughout the last elections and people looked at him more sympathetically in 2019, it wasn’t enough to get them to buy into his vision of India.
For others, it is the time to bemoan the loss of the ‘spirit of India’ and blame voters for being closet fascists, intolerant about minorities, and wanting a ‘Hindu rashtra’. The commentators talk about the loss of Indian secularism and try to define 900 million voters by their own definition of who is secular, tolerant and liberal. Just as the Right tries to define who is a ‘good Indian’ that makes most of us chaff, the Left tries to define who is a ‘good Indian’ which produces the same reaction. For most Indians, even those who are secular and liberal, these definitions make no sense. They may hear the arguments, if at all, and move on thinking that the commentators mean someone else. Making people feel ashamed of their electoral choices is not the best way to win them over.
The Indian electorate, in its infinite wisdom has chosen Modi to represent its aspirations, and drive the country ahead. Accusing the electorate of being communal or bigoted for their choices is neither sensible, nor correct. While commentators and politicians will blame everything from EVMs to polarisation – the fact remains that the voters preferred the dream that Modi was selling to them. Now, with this mandate, it depends on Modi to deliver what he promised.
Harini Calamur writes on politics, gender and her areas of interest are the intersection of technology, media, and audiences.