“Exit UPA, Enter Modi” screamed a television scroll. That just about summed up how this election was fought and won. The BJP that had always chided the Congress about personality cult practised it to the hilt. It wily nilly ran the campaign on the strength of just one man, Narendra Damodardas Modi.
This is a moment of change. And we must celebrate this moment.
“A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance.” Jawaharlal Nehru might as well have spoken today, and not just on 15 August 1947.
A good 23 years after India dusted the cobwebs of socialism and embraced market economy, it looks like it has hit a roadblock. In part due to a government handicapped by coalition compulsions and unable to take all parties along and in part due to an Opposition that has taken the word opposition just too seriously. The casualty has been the economy, as also the national mood.
The good thing about the new dispensation is that it comes with a majority. It can dictate terms without looking behind its shoulders. More importantly, at the helm it has a man who has a mind of his own. Modi comes with a wealth of experience and proven performance and hence carries the albatross of a high degree of expectation. If he can curb his natural instinct and work through reasonable consensus he can take India to the next level.
At the risk of sounding caustic let me say that the Prime Minister should not be taken in by the hoopla that his cheerleaders are drumming up to indicate that a large majority of India is with him. Actually only 31 per cent voted for the BJP. Remember, that’s the lowest in parliamentary history for a party that won a majority of seats. Remember also that the voting percentage was around 66 per cent. That would mean about 21 per cent voted for him and 79 per cent did not. This is not to take away the credit from his win, but to put things in perspective; to realize that there is a large majority that needs to be taken along.
Running Gujarat was one thing. Running the national government with a ring of giants around is another. Modi has the opportunity and the ability to be India’s game changer. He has the opportunity that Rajiv Gandhi had, and that was sadly frittered away. He has the goodwill that Kejriwal had, and sadly forfeited. In other words, there is a lot he can learn from history.
History has a tendency to reward people exponentially for their performance and punish them ruthlessly for failure. And this can happen very very quickly. We wish Modi well and in the process wish ourselves well. We present a set of ideas for him to implement. This must of course be read along with our April issue where we had laid out an agenda for the new Prime Minister.
V Pattabhi Ram