Special to Times of Oman
Election 2014 has been done and dusted and the outcome, indubitably, constitutes a watershed moment in India's history. We have witnessed a robust surge of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the mighty fall of India's Grand Old Party.
BJP has achieved its 'Mission 272-plus' thanks, in large measure, to the get-up-and-go spirit of Narendra Modi who has become a symbol of hope for the Indian people, not least the youths. In the end, the NDA coalition has turned up trumps by snapping up 336 seats, way above the half-way mark.
Was there a Modi wave? In fact, it was a Modi tsunami across the northern and western states though the southern states somewhat bucked the trend. BJP's strategy of sweeping Uttar Pradesh and the neighbouring Bihar has been a soaraway success with the former contributing a jaw-dropping 71 out of 80 seats up for grabs. Its ally, Apna Dal, picked up two seats, making the total 73.
Over 100 million first-time voters want Mody to fast-track development, create jobs and usher in prosperity. Modi was able to sway a large swathe of the electorate with his 'development' plank and now he should walk the talk. His 'development for all' talk goes to reassure us of inclusive growth.
BJP's strategy of abundant use of the social media fired up young voters and the importance it attached to the electronic media came in handy in influencing the middle class and the floating voters.
One of his campaign refrains was 'minimum government and maximum governance' something which galvanised the people, not least the business and industrial segments.And this is the reason the latter bankrolled the party's campaigns unprecedentedly. It's not just the Adanis but pretty much all industrial houses are expected to mine a rich seam of Modi's pro-corporate mind-set. Investors, both domestic and global, are hopeful of fast clearance of projects with minimal obstructions.
With the economic downturn (that is fuelling inflation and price rises) being the hot-button issue exercising the people's minds, they showed their willingness to put the 2002 riots on the back burner. Besides, the 12-year-old barbaric episode was pretty much a blur for many people and the first-time voters were too young at the time to remember and understand the gravity of the gut-wrenching episode.
One only hopes that Modi would resist a possible RSS pressure to saffronise our educational architecture. Our kids should study unadulterated history. Congress, meanwhile, has been blown to smithereens by an electorate fed up to the teeth with rampant corruption in government, ennui, policy paralysis and occasional display of arrogance and hypocrisy by ministers and party panjandrums.
The perception among the people has been that former prime minister Manmohan Singh, who is still regarded as a dignified and clean politician, has been a prisoner of coalition politics. He himself has often spoken about 'coalition compulsions'.
In fact, it's not just the coalition partners, but some Congress ministers themselves had had come under the radar and a patina of suspicion had stuck to them as well. Whatever the truth, the voters did not believe in their butter-won't-melt-in-my-mouth explanations. The truth is, if the authorities concerned do not come clean, the people would invariably turf them out through the elections. The Bofors gun scandal, albeit still shrouded in mystery, was instrumental in the meltdown of Congress in the late eighties.
The party's vice-president Rahul Gandhi's catastrophic attempt to appear as a crusader for morality and reforms not only bombed out miserably but it showed him up as an upstart. It was when the then prime minister Manmohan Singh was away in the US that Rahul rigged up a press meet and slammed an ordinance of the cabinet to protect the criminals as 'nonsense' adding that it should be torn up and thrown away. True, the ordinance was nothing short of scandalous. But the way he chose to run down the prime minister exposed him as an arrogant person.
Furthermore, Rahul proved no match for Modi in the oratory skates and the higgledy-piggledy Congress campaigns paled into insignificance before BJP's high-octane, well-funded campaigns supported ably by hundreds of thousands of RSS cadres. Now it's time for Congress to reboot and reinvent itself as a credible party. With just 44 seats in the kitty, it's going to be a rough patch ahead for the party.
The writer is a freelance contributor based in India. All the views and opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of Times of Oman.