A New Mandate?

PM Modi at a rally

Today is an extraordinary day, it is the day when the BJP swept the elections again and I really appreciate the work done by Amit Shah and his team, he truly is a modern Chanakya in all sense. Today is also the day I learn about the power of propaganda and the impact it has on people’s lives. BJP did everything they could and left no stones unturned. Namo TV, PM-Kisan yojana, fielding of Sadhvi Pragya Thakur etc all these tactics, whether good or bad, did the trick and worked extremely well in BJPs favour. The BJP is an election war machine and is backed up by the RSS, the world’s largest volunteer organisation. This gives BJP an edge over other parties as the RSS is spread across the country and has an international wing too. I personally believe that this election was one of the most polarised elections (nationalism and issues related to minorities) and it is the failure of the opposition and the ECI (Election Commission of India) to keep a check whether the elections were being conducted in a free and fair manner. Sadly the recusal of Ashok Lavasa, one of the Election Commissioner, from hearing any further MCC complaints was a vindication of these claims.

Today is the day I learn that there seems to be a need for civil society to strengthen their grip in these polarised time. One cannot rely on the opposition or the media to carry out your dissent. Dissent is an integral part of any pluralistic democracy and today’s election results create a great potential for various civil society organisation to be this beacon of dissent and voice of the people. The apologist of the government will question whether there was any curb on dissent in the first place, one look at the World Press Freedom rankings of 2019 says a lot (Also if you don’t believe these ranking then you should have the same opinion about India’s Ease of doing business ranking too). It is important to remember that dissent over here shouldn’t be against the government only but against any issue that corrupts the moral fabric of the Nation or the constitution.

It is true, without any doubts, that people have voted in the name of Modi. While all countries need a strong leader with a great vision that can help in the task of Nation building. However, in a representative democracy, the rules are different, all members of the society elect their representative who in turn elect the Prime Minister. I do agree that this may sound too idealistic but it has its reasons. When a person becomes larger than life he/she appears as a messianic image to many people and their actions often find legitimization from the masses. The result of 2019 shows us that Narendra Modi has become larger than the party and it is this messianic image that makes him so successful as he easily finds acceptance among many people. It is disappointing to see that Indian democracy is evolving in this way but I honestly feel that it was bound to take such a form. Since 1989 there has not been a single full majority government till 2009, this automatically created a vacuum in the political space. Narendra Modi was lucky enough to fill this space in 2013 and he soon found vast acceptance from the masses, the rest of the work was done by his PR team (who deserve a lot of credit too). Whether it is Modi or any other leader, such a system is here to stay. I would also like to believe that democracy runs on the institutionalization of power but from the way I see it the only way for someone to take on Modi should have similar backing in the form of public perception. However, there is also hope at the same time as whenever a person starts appearing larger than life, the political party’s inner mechanism kicks in and tries to control the leader. If this fails then political parties are often headed for a split. But then this is only true of those parties that practise a healthy inner-party democracy within the party.

While I may not support the BJP’s ideology but I must thank them for one thing, BJP seems to end the practice of caste-based politics that all parties in India were practicing from a very long time. The vote to Modi is given across caste and economic lines (not of the minorities though). This creates a herculean task for the next power hungry party to not focus on caste but on other important issues.

As I have said earlier that I don’t agree with the BJP’s ideology, I honestly don’t believe that they provide an inclusive form of development agenda. I don’t believe that the next 5 years are going to be any different than the last 5. For the first time, I feel like an intellectual and ideological minority in my own State, I personally don’t see this as a bad thing as it allows me to think differently in an alternative manner. I really hope I am proven wrong, only time shall tell.

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BOUNDED RATIONALITY

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Soham Joshi

Soham Joshi

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