Dr Vandana Mishra
After witnessing the largest human conglomeration take a holy dip at Kumbh, the people of India are all set to take another massive plunge in April-May 2019. The largest democracy of the world will elect its 17th Lok Sabha. Elections in India have always been keenly contested, zealously discussed and watched, and comprehensively reported. On the one hand, the election commission crafts all possible techniques, and successfully too, to make elections transparent, methodical and within bounds of law and order, and on the other hand political parties make an all-out effort to entice, confuse and apparently inform the populace about multiple promises, star-studded campaigns, and sops. The baffled voter has to make a choice between parties, between representatives, between past performances and above all between the leaders.
Fortunately, the election to the 17th Lok Sabha has eased the voter’s task of ‘choosing’ as there is hardly a party, other than the Bharatiya Janata Party, that is staking claim to win the election on its own. This election does not present before us a choice between BJP or Congress or Mahagathbandhan. Neither is it a choice between Narendra Modi or X, Y, or Z. It is a choice between a confident and courageous leader and the rest (all taken together). In 2014, Indians had voted for a person who – despite a vicious media propaganda against him – campaigned across the length and breadth of the country with the slogan “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas”. During the most comprehensive outreach programme carried on by a single leader – 437 rallies, 5827 public interface events, travelling over three lakh kilometres during 2014 election campaign – Narendra Modi only talked about the success of ‘Gujarat Development Model’ and his conviction towards replicating the same in the entire country. Throughout the campaign, opposition and media continued a scornful, denigrating and belittling drive but nothing could deter his commitment towards the development-oriented campaign. In 2019, people seem satisfied that their bet has paid off.
The trust that Narendra Modi has in socio-cultural beliefs of this country gave him the confidence to mention, right from the ramparts of Red Fort in his very first address in 2015, the uncleanliness of the toilets and the initiation of Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan. One Rank One Pension (OROP), reservation for economically backwards, International Yoga day, Ujjawala Yojna, Namami Gange, Crop insurance scheme, Bhimrao Ambedkar Memorial and UDAAN are just a few examples of his commitment towards the welfare of all – till the last man.
Be it the virulent attacks on demonetisation or the Rafale deal, scathing comments on Surgical strike-I and Balakot strike, or the hullabaloo over the disgraces committed by the self-acclaimed Gaurakshaks or the anti-love jihad squads, or media/opposition furore over PM’s foreign visits, or even the deafening silence of the peers about the ‘impact on the elections’ fear, nothing has deterred him. No clarification to the media, no exhibitionist behaviour of the successful projects/schemes (GST, Jan Dhan Yojna, Swachch Bharat, Statue of Unity, Driver-less Train 18, Digital India, Make in India, Skill India, Beti Bachao-Beti Padao, etc…), no media baggage on foreign trips, only direct contact with the people is the strategy that he adopted and has excelled. So the imperviousness is not only to criticisms but also to acclaim. Not just allegations and criticisms, but approbations too have been met with stoic silence.
The very perceptible indifference or immediate unresponsiveness that he shows towards what is said about him by the media or by the opposition can easily be read as arrogance or conceit. But it seems that he has learned it the hard way (his experiences in Gujarat) that ‘actions speak louder than words’ and ‘well done is better than well said’. So instead of verbal salutations to the existing power equations in the world, he went ahead with a ‘New India Foreign Policy’ and extended friendship with Iran and Saudi Arabia, Israel and Palestine, China and America, all at the same time. ‘Terror and Talk cannot go together’ is now not just a poster catchphrase but an action plan designed to counter cross-border terrorism through armed action on the one hand and to align the like-minded nations to alienate the terror promulgators on the other.
With all this, he has struck hard at the core of India’s largely apathetic political culture – where corruption, non-performance, and inefficiency were norm and not aberrations. The outgoing government has made people believe that the political system can also be judged on the basis of ‘deliverables’.
Along with his ‘clean’ image, hard work, and visionary depth, the confidence and courage of Narendra Modi, obviously stemming from his conviction towards the larger development goals and enabling India to occupy the position of ‘POWER’ in the global politics, is knotty for the opponents and infectious for the rest.
Courtesy: Academics 4 Namo
(The writer is Assistant Professor, JNU, New Delhi)