2014 General Elections have been unique for more than one reason. The results marked the end of the coalition era with its inevitable compulsions and providing opportunities for securing defections by improper means. BJP supporters expected NDA to cross the magic figure of 272, but few of them expected securing 282 seats by BJP and 336 by NDA. Congress was expected to lose but not to be decimated and reduced to the pathetic figure of 44. The blame game in Congress has started and erstwhile votaries of Rahul have now become his detractors.
The most heartening feature is that Narendra Modi, who was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth, a person hailing from a disadvantaged community and a family of humble means without any dynastic powerful connections, a ‘chaiwalla’ as he was disparagingly called, would become the Prime Minister of our nation. That was a striking manifestation of the quintessential spirit of equality in our Constitution, eloquently articulated in its Preamble. It was a genuine tribute to our social democracy.
Election results established that people are keen to move on with economic progress, particularly control of inflation and rising prices, and opportunities for employment. People realised that it would be myopic to believe that the future Prime Minister of our country will carry with him his baggage as chief minister of Gujarat. True, apprehensions still linger in the minorities, thanks to the incessant anti-Modi propaganda. It should be the foremost task of Narendra Modi as a statesman to remove these misgivings by clear statements and tangible deeds.
The human side of the so-called butcher of Gujarat was amply displayed in the parliamentary proceedings for his nomination as Prime Minister when he momentarily gave vent to his emotions. That was not a stage-managed dramatic stunt but was genuine. The proceedings in the Gujarat Assembly in relation to the appointment of Anandiben Patel as the first woman chief minister of Gujarat were indeed moving. Narendrabhai’s warm embrace of his adversary Waghela and the latter’s jibes about Modi illustrated that in a democracy, there can be political opponents who need not be permanent enemies. The scene of Modi seeking his mother’s blessings by touching her feet and the legitimately proud mother giving him `101 with her good wishes was heart-warming.
A major problem for the new government would be to satisfy the huge expectations of the people who unrealistically expect instant results. The ability to fulfil those expectations without inordinate delay will be the true test of Modi’s leadership. Topmost priority must be accorded to legal and judicial reforms to ensure that people secure justice and their freedom without rotting in jail for years.
Invocation of Hitler: It is remarkable that when a person is accused or suspected of dictatorial tendencies, the comparison is to Adolf Hitler. There have been other ruthless dictators like Stalin and Mao, but they are not invoked. Mani Shankar Aiyar always compared Modi with Hitler and persisted even after Modi’s nomination as PM.
Recently, Prince Charles sparked a row by comparing Russian President Putin to Hitler during his tour of Canada in a private conversation with a Jewish lady, who told him how she fled the Nazis and lost members of her family during Holocaust. Charles reportedly said, “Now Putin is doing just about the same as Hitler,” referring to Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Those remarks were criticised across the political spectrum. Labour MP Mike Gapes warned that “if Prince Charles wants to make controversial statements on national or international issues, he should abdicate and stand for election”. Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps defended Charles’ right to express opinion. Charles is due to meet Putin in Normandy on June 6 at the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Their interaction will be interesting.
Sorabjee is a former Attorney General of India