It wasn’t just a wave, but more like a tsunami or a devastating earthquake that demolished all that stood in its way. The mandate people gave Narendra Modi has dramatically altered the political map of India. It will keep analysts busy for months. Some will keep warning their compatriots about the rise of intolerant fascism, and the Gandhis and others will shout themselves hoarse about the looming threat of a Hindu Rashtra destroying the Nehruvian ‘Idea of India’. Most of the space in print and electronic media has been hogged by the decimation of the Congress and yet another humiliating performance by RaGa. It has distracted our attention from other perhaps even more significant tectonic shifts that have taken place.
It’s highly unlikely that Congress will ever rise like the Phoenix in near or distant future, but the results have definitely sounded the death knell for the Communist parties. Both CPI and CPI(M) managed to scrounge just five seats in the Lok Sabha and four of these were practically gifted by the DMK in Tamil Nadu. The CPI(M) drew a blank even in West Bengal and Tripura, once considered its impenetrable citadels. The much-hyped election of Kanhaiya Kumar in Begusarai ended with a whimper with the articulate youngster losing by hundreds of thousands of votes.
Does anyone remember that in the first Lok Sabha the Communists were the largest party in Opposition? They have themselves to blame. The ideologues in CPI(M) and CPI lived in denial, committing one Himalayan blunder after another and jumped into the dustbin of history with their feet firmly in their mouth. No mean feat. RIP.
One may call Modi a megalomaniac, trigger-happy warmonger, a dangerous demagogue fanning communal passions, but it can’t be denied that he proved himself more credible to the voters. No purpose is served by tying oneself in knots about the fatal flaws in our first past the post electoral system or the unfair domination of media by the party in power. Modi mesmerised the voters even in states ruled by the Congress. Nor did the grand alliance forged against NDA in UP work. As a matter of fact, the myth of social engineering, arithmetic of caste-based coalitions has finally been punctured. Those holding/wielding the ‘Kamandal’ are having the last laugh. The forces of identity politics unleashed by the Mandal Commission are now exhausted.
The Last Post has been sounded for Lalu Yadav and Ajit Singh. And the tolling of the bells can’t be very reassuring for Mayawati. She and Akhilesh Yadav may live to fight another day, but for both all-India ambitions have been extinguished. It has been a cruel May for the patriarchs. N Chandrababu Naidu has been trounced and Sharad Pawar managed to save face by choosing discretion. Ex-PM Deve Gowda, his lachrymose in-power CM son, too, were reduced to eminently forgettable ‘also-rans’. Didi never strutted as a Matriarch, but the losses TMC suffered are no less distressing.
The only party to predictably emerge victorious was the DMK in Tamil Nadu. However, it is in no position to adopt a militantly confrontationist stance against the Centre. Modi and Amit Shah are very different from the UPA leadership that allowed the tail to wag them. Stalin has proved himself a battle-worthy leader but the times have changed and the language or regional cards have lost their value. The state—one of the most progressive in the country—has accomplished much to take pride in. One hopes that partisan parochial politics will not interfere with its progress.
This brings us back to the misfortunes of the Congress. RaGa has managed to secure a distant door entry to the Parliament and his primary concern is to secure for him the status of the Leader of Opposition. Not many are bothered about what sop he is consoled with. Citizens are more concerned about the absence of a substantial Opposition within and without the Parliament. India is too diverse a country to be democratically ruled by a single party.
There is no dearth of critics who are ringing alarm bells about religious identity of the majority community dominating the imagination of the Modi-led BJP government. Unfortunately the government’s reluctance to enforce the rule of law where lynch mobs claiming political patronage roam rampaging has engendered legitimate misgivings. The PM has more than once condemned the vigilantes draped in saffron but stern words have not always been followed by swift punishment. Fielding a terror-accused incurable motormouth as its candidate from Bhopal has also tarnished the party’s image. One hopes that Pragya Thakur having served the electoral purpose is soon banished to oblivion.