Edit & Opinion

Chowkidar Ka Chamatkar | ‘Modi’fied New India 2.024

This was a moment in history whereby India stood ‘Modi’fied 2.024. A triumph of Hindutva majoritarianism as he ably convinced voters of the rise of a new India. The BJP made good its promise abke baar 300 paar by winning 303 seats and with allies totaled 353 in a 543 Lok Sabha. A turning point which cements the dominance of Modi and BJP.  Today, NaMo stands numero uno unchallenged thanks to voters reposing unquestioned faith in him.

He has created history by becoming the first non-Congress Prime Minister to be re-elected after completing a full five-year term in office. And the only one after Nehru and Indira Gandhi to be re-elected to office with full majority after completing a full term, 48 years after 1971.Today this political phenomenon has created a deep sense of identification with the aam aadmi resulting in the lotus blooming pan India.

Not only did he get rid of old Mandal caste loyalties but also fashioned an intense script of muscular nationalism with strong Hindutva mooring of a new India which over 41% voters lapped up. He stirred a combination of hope and fear, mixed a desire for national greatness with perceived threats from internal and external enemies, vaulted over faultlines of caste and class thereby creating a pan India identity enveloping Brahmins, Banias, rich and the aspirational poor.   Class trounced caste with Modi as the unifier.

More. NaMo was unapologetic about his appetite for pure Caesarism power and constantly scripted his message and successfully used the medium as his massage adding layers to his appeal which resonated with the poor, rural-urban, upwardly mobile aspirational youth and flattened his opponents. A leader who claimed his place on the high table of world leaders holding a beacon for diligence, national pride, growth and opportunity. Modi also benefited from considerable popularity among voters, many of whom view him as a hard-working, corruption-free politician.

The Opposition has only itself to blame for the mess it finds itself in. It created an enabling environment for the BJP to squash regional disparities and sweep aside State specifics. Alongside the leaders were unable to put egos and ambitions aside and come together leading to Modi’s gambit of “kaamdars vs naamdars” paying off.

From the Congress to Samajwadi, BSP and RJD all were desecrated by his ‘corrupt dynastic’ brush. Given young voters are not enthralled by dynasts who have nothing to show but lineage which has no mystic for them. Also, they abhor the neo-inheritors condescending politics.

Undoubtedly, Verdict 2019 is a watershed poll wherein the aam aadmi has shown his profound wisdom and maturity by serenading the end of vote-bank politics of the Hindu heartland regional satraps, their mohalla mentality of parochialism and naked personal ambition of aggrandisment to usher in a new dawn of constructive politics of change and rising aspirations. Underscoring as never before that jo jeeta wohi sikandar!

Modi, it seems is inching towards his dream of a Congress-mukt Bharat with its decimation in  19 States and Union Territories winning only 52 seats, less than what the BJP won in UP alone. Rubbing salt is Rahul’s humiliating defeat in Amethi, the family bastion since 1980. Once an unbeatable force which ruled for over 55 years, the Congress stands eviscerated. It failed to capitalize victories in Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh last year and consolidate its position as a challenger to be feared. Consequently, its moment of reckoning has come.

Adding insult to injury Rahul a lightweight compared to NaMo was unable to build a strategy to counter Modi’s appeal despite Priyanka’s boisterous but failed blitzkreig. Bereft of a political narrative and eye-catching ideas its rant about Chowkidar Chor Hai on Rafale not only left a bad taste but boomeranged with Modi usurping the Chowkidar title and using it to his advantage leaving voters with a sense of chor machaye shor. Worse, his Nyaya scheme found no takers, instead exposed how sycophancy triumphed over strategy.

Predictably, Rahul offered to resign but the Hubris afflicted Congress wants to continue in his dynastic tentacles. A classic case of the blind leading the blind as none knows the way forward. For starters, the Party needs to urgently do some honest soul-searching and drastically overhaul its jo hukam culture of groveling before the “family” as this does not translate into votes. Two, get its act together, induct fresh talent, reinvent itself to regain credibility and behave as a responsible and effective Opposition Party.

As for the regional satraps, barring DMK, YSR and BJD, the writing is on the wall. They neither had a programme nor a narrative or a leader. Their algorithm of caste arithmetic, rainbow social engineering, anti-Modi sloganeering and distorted secularism which alienated the majority without benefiting the minority came a cropper. Today Bhua-Bhatija Mayawati-Akhilesh’s Mahagadhbandhan has been binned, Mamata is busy licking her wounds, Naidu is history while Pawar finds himself in a squeeze.

Further, the voter has given thumbs down for khichdi sarkars as coalitions seem to be out of favour. The electorate feels it causes social turmoil vis-a-vis various castes, hurts governance and the economy. Resulting in regional Parties shrinking role at the national level while continuing to stay relevant in State politics, but after reworking their caste-based politics.

Certainly, it would be a misnomer to believe that caste will evaporate from Indian politics but as of now Modi has changed the narrative from class and caste. Said he: “There are only two jaatis, those who are poor and those who want to free them from poverty….There is no other caste…. I may make mistakes but will work non-stop to ensure country moves forward.” Opportunities, growth and national pride are emotive drivers for this class.

True, Modi’s 2014 promise of vikas and ache din came a cropper but he won despite his economic failures by setting in motion the juggernaut of building toilets, pucca homes, providing gas cylinders, opening Jan Dhan accounts ensuring Government money reached recipients without being lost to bribes and dispersing Rs 2000 to distressed kisans he showcased his swacch, responsive and honest intensions.

But the coming months pose a stiff challenge with unemployment at 45%, rising oil prices, farm distress, consumers buying less and a slowing economy. Undoubtedly, bread-and-butter issues will be back on the economic delivery table once the victory sheen wears off. In 2014 Modi had asked for 10 years to put India on track, let’s see.

As NaMo moves forward he needs to remember the Indian polity is dynamic and the voter can never be taken for granted. He has the mandate and must boldly take a transformational leap to put the economy back on track. Knowing that a powerhouse economy can yield a political bonanza in the years to come. Will he bite the bullet?

In sum even as the 2019 election underscored the Modi persona and his deification it is time he starts a new conversation with a scarred and divided polity, including the ‘Lutyens-Khan Market Gang.’ The electorate has presented him a historic opportunity. He would be wise to recall with great power comes greater responsibility wherein he would  need to put in a lot of time, effort and statesmanship to erase the poll bitterness, reach out to a shrunk Opposition and prove that his concentration of power has the ability to take everyone along. Will this ‘faqir’ rise to the occasion? —– INFA

 

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