By Anshul Tewari:
At the polling booth, a few weeks ago, I bumped into a group of young first time voters, excited and charmed by Narendra Modi. Their vote was going to the BJP candidate from our constituency, but they were actually voting for Narendra Modi to become the PM of India, and he did. On 16th May, 2014, the Narendra Modi led BJP crushed Congress beyond its
Narendra Modi, the larger than life politico who represents the Bharatiya Janata Party, India’s Hindu nationalist political party which aims to become the custodian of the Indian culture, will swear in as India’s next Prime Minister. For those who support Narendra Modi, he represents change, hope and progress. He became for them the epitome of goodness that the country needs, and the only one who can bring us out of the shackles of economic failure, lack of jobs and opportunities. For his supporters, Narendra Modi was not a politician, he was not a leader, he was not the one leading the opposition party, he was a religion, and that is how he was followed, praised, promoted and talked about. Chants of har har Modi, and NaMo Namah rang far and wide – so wide that it was impossible to ignore them. For someone who loved Modi, it did not matter whether his knowledge of India’s history was weak, whether he had really changed the face of Gujarat or not, whether 33% of the candidates from BJP had criminal cases, and 21% had serious criminal cases against them; what mattered was the powerful NaMo brand.
For someone who did not support Narendra Modi, he was a divisive politician who let the Gujarat riots happen under his leadership. For them, he was the perpetrator of violence, violator of civil and human rights and the right to free speech; a politician who was driven by his corporate funders from Reliance to Vedanta. Moreover, he represented a Hindu nationalistic figure who would divide Hindus and Muslims and carry on his politics of Hindutva, not directly, but driven by his foot soldiers, and those of RSS and various other Hindu nationalist parties and groups. He represented the traditional and regressive ideas of societal growth, or rather – downfall.
For those who loved him and those who hated him, the reality stands tall. The Bharatiya Janata Party has won the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections and Narendra Modi is poised to become the new Prime Minister of India. The international media is going haywire with talks about his controversial past, but what needs to be seen is the future of India under Narendra Modi, a larger than life politician who represents India’s Hindu nationalist party that promised in their 2014 manifesto to build the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, an idea so controversial that the last time it was executed it led to the demolition of the Babri Mosque and death of at least 2000 people.
He might have won because of India’s inherent love for the argumentum ad populum theory, or in short, the belief that “if many people say so, it is so“, but as of this moment, the reasons for his victory are not what matter. What matters is the future of an India under the patriarch. The future of the world’s largest democracy, not necessarily the wisest.
Putting things a little more in perspective, what would matter is the way our freedom of expression and the right to free speech grow, or demolish. BJP has been known to attack people for their opinions and outspoken ideas on numerous issues where people disagreed and criticized their ideas, and now with the draconian IT Act and access to the notorious Central Monitoring System set up by the Congress, the future of our fundamental right is yet to be seen.
What would matter even more is the treatment met with the human rights that we have as Indians. Of the LGBTQI community in India and BJP’s opposition to the idea of free love, of people from diverse religions, and those who do not believe in the idea of religion. Of those who refuse to follow the “Indian culture” because it regresses their life, and of those who dissent – a right which defines the true power of a democracy, the lack of which turns a country into a dictatorship.
The BJP has been alleged to support the interests of corporations at many instances. Narendra Modi’s government might be able to create jobs for the young of this country, but it is yet to be seen whether in a bid to grow the Indian economy, Narendra Modi’s Government lets corporations and industrialists decide the future of common people, specially the ones living on mineral rich rural and tribal belts of India, something that the Congress never cared about.
His promises on the security of women will be judged based on whether his Government creates masculine, patriarchal structures to protect women, where the baton is still in the hands of a man, or whether it opens up spaces to create more freedom for women, where the man as a protector is out of question.
An animated video of Arvind Kejriwal being beaten up by people has been circulating on social media, specially by BJP supporters who “lol” at it, showcasing how they have normalized violence against a political contender who lost terribly. It is yet to be seen whether violence also becomes an answer to the illegal immigrants in Assam, to the young men and women who drink alcohol, and party in discos and pubs, and of course those who choose to ignore the regressive rules that the Indian society and culture have lived by, and carve their own destiny. Because as the BJP believes, it is important to “protect” the Indian culture.
Narendra Modi’s Prime Ministerial selection is not India’s verdict. BJP did lose in 209 seats, that is 38% of the total seats in the parliament. 62% does represent the majority in parliament, but it does not represent the entire country. Moreover, the BJP’s vote share in this election hovers around 31% of those who voted. The combined NDA vote share (BJP + allies) of votes polled in 2014 does not exceed 35%.
An India under Narendra Modi is an India that his followers look forward to, and an India that those who oppose him fear the most. India’s future under Narendra Modi is yet to be seen, but certainly, it has already been decided.
Congrats to our new PM, Narendra Modi for his record breaking victory.
To know more about what I think, follow me on Twitter @anshul_tewari