The bunch of the so-called intellectuals, the self-styled secular crowd and the scowling Left mafia with their holy book of Marx have been swept off the Indian scene as the Modi chariot rumbled forth. After comforting themselves for months that the BJP will not cross the 200 mark, then believing even on the morning of the election results that 220 is the outer limit, they searched out by afternoon what to make of their complete collapse.
How could Marx be wrong? The Left total could not be so low. Surely, the success of Narendra Modi will provoke Pakistan. Watch the TV channels for Modi declaring war. The neighbourhood will be all aflame. Last Monday, even the doomsday prophecy died with their doom.
That Pakistan’s Nawaz Sharif was present at the Rashtrapati Bhawan forecourt for the swearing-in with a goodwill basket, that the Pakistani army did not let the Hafiz Saeed group spoil the show with their usual terror attack on the LoC and Nawaz recalled the early days of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime, had to be gulped down by the soothsayers of doom.
Equally significant was the taming of the Tamil anger at the Sri Lankan president’s presence. Recall how the Tamil parties stymied Manmohan Singh from attending the Colombo summit only a few months ago. All armed with outrage at prime minister Modi inviting president Rajapaksa, the Tamil parties thought they could blackmail the new government as well. But Modi as the PM is made of different stuff. Rajapaksa was very much here.
Accustomed for a decade of tail wagging the political dog, our Cassandras also had at least the anger of some allies of the BJP at not getting the plum portfolios spoiling the show of Monday or soon thereafter. Instead the allies fell in line.
The Monday show was not just grand. It was for all those who hailed the May 16 result a declaration that not just this country but its neighbourhood, the global business and political communities, the carping critics of the TV discussions, all willing to see that a new era has dawned on India. It is not just a new government replacing the old battered one.
In sharp contrast to ministers looking to other centres of power as was the practice under UPA as revealed in Sanjaya Baru’s book, the new government is prime minister-centred as it is meant to be. The mandate was to Modi, who was seen across India as the one destined to drive the government and the economy. Modi as prime minister has driven it home silencing his critics and surprising analysts.
It is significant that Najma Heptullah, who has become the cabinet minister in charge of minority affairs, has firmly ruled out on Day 1 itself that the days of appeasement with Muslim quota have ended. This again contrasts with the secular crowd competing among themselves on the percentages for the Muslim quota earlier.
Salman Khurshid, minister in the UPA, sought to get Muslim votes with his unilateral announcement of the Muslim quota but Mulayam Singh Yadav was not to be left behind. He raised the percentage a notch higher. That both of them have been humbled even in constituencies where the Muslims are in good numbers has told them that people have begun to see through the quota competitions. The new India wants substance, not the shadows dancing and diverting attention from the core issue of lack of jobs and skills, the spread of cynicism that drives away enterprise and hair-splitting on the poverty line—whether it should be at `22 or `50 per day per person.
That this government will be ruled not by prejudice but professionalism is yet another factor that will spread the good news. Arun Jaitley as the new finance minister has talked to the RBI governor appointed by the outgoing government. They have found themselves to be on the same page, for instance, in combating inflation.
The mandate this time is so overwhelming and so cleansing the stables, the plight of those who sought to stand on the sidelines and shake the political tree have also been thrown into the dustbin. The shrinking of a mainline party like the Congress is one factor that will play out in the coming months in the restructuring of the system to a truly binary one. The Congress will have to redesign itself to be the other part of the national binary. Protestations of loyalties to the family apart, there are voices, though muted now, of how far can the party go if it will have only the past glory to brand it in the electoral market.
Sonia Gandhi sought once again to revive the Nehruvian legacy on the recent death anniversary of Nehru. Surely she must have noticed that the anniversary has gone off without many voices singing hallelujahs for the first prime minister and the usual VIP peregrinations around the family samadhi. Her statement on the legacy and determination to pursue “secularism” and “socialism” considered in the day’s background, appeared a lonely voice.
The Aam Aadmi Party has also been cut to size. The confession of its mercurial leader Arvind Kejriwal that it was a mistake to have abandoned the Delhi crown for the national championships may just be a cry in the wilderness in which he now finds himself with his fledgling party. He sought to play a game for popularity by refusing to seek bail till Delhi High Court told him not to be childish. After finding that nobody in Delhi bothered if he chose to be in jail he tamely came out offering the bail he’d refused earlier. One shouldn’t play the Mahatma when one is not even a three-day phenomenon in politics.
The great good the mandate of May has done is to bring the politics of India to an orderly and effective process with a government given the full run to prove itself. No doubt the parliamentary majorities earlier have failed to justify their mandate but the real weakness in those mandates was the leader alone.
Indira Gandhi’s mandate was spoiled by her socialist adventurism like the wheat trade nationalisation. The Janata Party became a byword for political confusion and economic stagnancy. The huge numbers that Rajiv Gandhi got melted away as his leadership lurched between appeasement and courting while the undercurrent of corruption struck at his credibility.
Now is the time for the so-called secular crowd from the Congress to Mayawati’s fiefdom to Mulayam Singh’s Yadav countryside to realise that the writing on the wall is that there is a new people wanting to move forward. Old slogans like “secularism in danger” are as dead as a dodo. The intellectuals who threatened to desert India if Modi is elected to power must reflect on how much they deserve to be intellectual leaders.
Balbir Punj is National Vice President, BJP.