After winning a huge mandate on the plank of “sab ka sath, sab ka vikas” (along with all, development of all), PM Modi is now emphasising the need to promote “sab ka vishwas” (trust of all). He said: “those who vote for us are ours and even our most trenchant opponents are ours”.
One of the first tasks mentioned is to win the trust of all sections of the population. He said that minorities had long been made to live in fear by those who believed in vote-bank politics and that this deception must end. The priority was thus set on promoting faith and harmony among majority and minorities.
Elections are over, but no actors on the stage not excluding the Election Commission can afford to take rest. The post-election period is the time for stock-taking — identifying factors behind success and failure for parties and candidates. The party coming to power has the responsibility of fulfilling its promises. The bigger the mandate, the greater the responsibility as not only the entire nation, but the entire world will be watching closely the performance of the new government that will enjoy near two-thirds majority in Lok Sabha.
The country witnessed the most bitter electoral contest and intense and extensive campaigns in this election. Noticeable is the fact that electioneering by speeches and contacts was dominated by a few leaders in various parties though assisted by thousands of party workers at various levels, which makes fixing responsibility for gain or loss easier.
Professional campaign managers were said to have been employed, which is believable, because of certain persistent propaganda, pattern of communication and contacts, virulent attacks, and tireless persecution that were carried on unmindful of insulting opponents or hurting sentiments and indifferent to people’s reaction. The less said about the language and tone used in campaigning, the better. The first task of the winners and losers is to get over their election tension and settle down to peaceful governance.
Both parties – the winner BJP and the main loser the Congress – today shoulder a heavy responsibility. The former has to fulfil its promises and the latter, free of any obligations to honour any poll promise, has to rebuild the shattered party. Massive defeat also carries a massive responsibility of rescuing the sinking ship particularly in the case of the Congress party which is more than 100 years old.
Indian voters, on the whole, have exhibited no permanent addiction to any party. They shift their support for even small reason. Pro-incumbency and anti-incumbency are not independent forces, but come into operation depending on the performance sheets of the main actors.
The defeat of the Mahagathbandhan conclusively proves that electoral result is not pure arithmetic, but a matter of people-party/candidate relationship. Leaders of two or more parties may join hands, but cannot assume that their followers and supporters will follow them. In some cases, alliance itself may be the cause of defeat. Hence, the victor and the vanquished have to bestow their attention more towards winning the support of the electorate than concentrating on arithmetical calculations and personalised attacks.
“NARA – National Ambition, Regional Aspiration” – a slogan raised by the PM post-election conveys the quintessence of the party politics displayed in this election, when regional players appeared in their full strength and displayed their power, capabilities, and ambitions. He says that a balance between the two will be the key to the nation’s progress, and it cannot be achieved without the support of regional parties. The new government must work in national interest at the same time protecting State/regional interests.
Despite massive mandate, the leader of the winning party admitted that the politics of alliances is a reality and important to fulfil regional aspirations. In a way, the hectic parleys, 24-hour discussions, several visits of some regional leaders from State to State to bring them together for an agreed purpose have served to bring to light the importance of accommodating regional ideas and aspirations in national politics. It cannot be erased whatever be the size of victory of the winner. The mandate for the BJP comes with the proviso that regional requirements and aspirations – political, social, economic, and cultural – have to be national priorities also.
The same is true of sectional interests in this plural society and the new government has to promote education and health for all. NDA in its second term must eradicate any impression – genuine or false – of partisan interests, and continue its journey without any discrimination on the basis of caste or religion. Equality and equity must not only underlie schemes and programmes, but must be visible and felt by all. It is the spirit of inclusiveness and service that should be the driving force of the mandate winner. The illusion of fear gripping the minds of minorities sown and fanned in election campaigns by parties indulging in divisive and vote-bank politics needs to be shattered.
Big win does not put a party or its top leaders above our Constitution. Nor big loss gives licence to suspect, discredit, and blame the functioning of any office or authority. The first loyalty of the victor and the vanquished is to the Constitution and the values enshrined in it. Both the winner and the loser have to share the responsibility of cleansing the political environment, whoever spearheaded the movement for degeneration of party politics and practised it vigorously. Heat of election campaigning cannot be legally accepted as a defence for fake news and false propaganda extensively used to confuse the voters.
The PM believes that “people voted for democracy” and a huge responsibility rests on him. To him, coming years would be about people’s participation in governance (“jan bhagidari”) and people’s awareness (“jan chetna”). These relate to social welfare programmes of the government. The big mandate is to be used for solving common citizens’ issues who form bulk of the electorate. This will mean addressing problems of farmers and others in the unorganised sector, increasing avenues for employment and self-employment, and providing social security for all.
By winning this election, BJP has reason to believe that its economic policy has popular endorsement. Despite its weakness in convincing people of the economic reforms, the support obtained is incredible. Still, it is not possible to retain people’s support without building their trust in the government by building a clean image and engaging in purposive action.
The mandate of 2019 is for both domestic and foreign policies. The security of the nation should continue to be our priority. The image of India globally, which has always been high, is expected to grow higher in the coming years. India has to take lead in fighting terrorism, which is necessary for national and regional peace and development. Massive electoral mandate enhances the status of India in international relations, and cannot be ignored in the Asian region. The status has to be maintained by adhering to its own independent foreign policy.
No mandate is permanent. The winner must keep improving his performance to retain people’s confidence which is so fickle and will take no time to shift.—INFA