Colombo Telegraph

Electoral Fortunes In India In 2019 Lok Sabha Elections

By S. Sivathasan

S. Sivathasan

The full spell of Modi governance has cast threatening shadows on the hurriedly assembled formation of disparate elements. This alliance with little unity and less cohesion has neither a worthwhile programme nor a futuristic road map nor a specified leader. Living for the day and merely nitpicking on the incumbent government having a popularity voting at 86% of the most desired party for the coming seat of government, will not take the Congress and the Alliance even remotely visible to the BJP. Success upon success appears to be Modi’s destiny. 

Modi on the Ascendant

While Modi takes the BJP confidently on the ascendant, Rahul Gandhi and the 22 cohorts have immersed themselves in murky waters. Even as the Modi wave raged on from 2018, opposing parties have been in a dither from the very beginning. The wave developing that year had its landfall in January 2019 for Modi and the BJP. To counter it, in a seeming pretense of solidarity, 22 opposing formations finalized their math. This was on 12th January 2019, when a Grand Alliance (GA) was cobbled together by caucuses doubtful of their individualistic prospects. Yet they were sure, non-survival this round, would spell extinction thereafter. Hence a fight with the back to the wall.

 

Grand Alliance in Vanishing Mode

Leaders were vying only to be PM. Modi wave had by then turned into a Tsunami and a surge followed. Then the deluge and on 12th March 2019, the GA, however grand, gave way and is now in shambles. Debilitation by the day is now the fate of that Alliance. Modi had proved that 1 has greater momentum than 22. He and his party appear to have breached the seat barrier of 300 as stand-alone BJP. Together with pre-poll alliances they have approached 340 as NDA, an Alliance stronger than in 2014. This assessment is not made on the ubiquitous debates and discussions or from polls on opinion and voting. Some are very sound and throw much light; many are plainly tendentious. Media bias calls for no proof and the reason therefor is not hard to seek. As of now social media too stands tainted and it is the opposition that is paying the price by losing credibility.

“Gujarat is my Atma and Bharath my Paramatma” – Modi at Gujarat meeting

Modi and His Pool of Cranial Intelligence

Blessed with high intelligence, having the sense for the possible and the practicable, unafraid of those of even higher endowment, Modi displayed his knack for composing groups of all talents. Never ill at ease with any of them, he has only exuded confidence among his compeers. Be it as Chief Minister, be it in parliament or in cabinet, he has been primus inter pares. The same record holds in the management of the party. All these traits are now public knowledge and surveys show him as India’s best Prime Minister ever.

The country knows that for governance, he has opted for men of dynamism who have demonstrated a capacity for achievement. Such a selection composes the cabinet. The same story holds in choices from the bureaucracy and technocracy. Five years of success bespeak the unremitting commitment which has yielded striking results. All these and very many more are an unrelenting reproach on the opposition parties both in state and at centre. Hence the dread of Modi and the dislike flowing therefrom. Vastly more threatening is the steady flow of facts buttressed by statistics ably presented by Modi and his top-notch Ministers.

Modi addressing election crowds in Thiruppur Tamil Nadu

What Do They Convey?

The level of awareness of the widest spectrum of the Indian polity has changed. Mindset is now to move in tandem with the change, speed and transformational mode of the Modi administration. Irreversibility of progress made so far is now a fact of life. Very convincing speeches to multi-lakh audiences, by the top leadership of the BJP, forceful discourses in political debates and instructive writings are continuing to change the world’s largest electorate into a cauldron of change. Social media widely available in India are vehicles to carry viewpoints daily to hundreds of millions. This is happening on a scale, never before seen. The impact of this deluge on misinformation of a weak opposition is well known. May it be understood that the print media has lost its power to sway. How passion moves the masses was best known to Nehru and he has declared its efficacy. Now Modi discerns it as well and bases his forecast of 300 plus seats for NDA  – as at early April – on that potent factor.

Opposition parties have been driven into the wilderness by the BJP government’s shining record of achievements. Megawatts delivered in the power sector make sense to the masses when they see lights burning in their house for the benefit of their children and their education. International Energy Agency praised rural electrification in India in recent years as one of the greatest success stories. To assist in the common man’s ease of living and to promote clean air, Modi government provided 130 million cooking gas connections in 55 months to the disadvantaged. Congress governments in 55years had given 120 million gas connections.

Housing for all by 2022 wins credibility when houses in the five-year term are visible in the countryside. Sanitation coverage in rural India, 38% in April 2014 reached 98% by February 2019. Health insurance to a maximum value of Rs. 500,000/= per family for a staggering 100 million families is a world’s first in magnitude. These are but a few examples to throw light on a vast multitude of people-oriented schemes. 

Of conspicuous mention is the wide and swift adoption of the Biometric Identification System particularly in government to people financial transactions. Government benefits hugely, when transfers are made with the avoidance of leakages bypassing middlemen. Rajiv Gandhi a former PM once disclosed that among others, in poverty alleviation schemes of the government, only 15 % reached the beneficiaries. Multiple leaks plugged and large scale corruption getting eliminated have placed huge amounts of resources into state coffers. They are now visibly manifesting in massive real estate and changing people’s attitudes towards the ruling party.

May it be known that nearly three years ago with a single stroke of the pen, Modi siphoned off an unprecedented amount of central finances to all the federal states. Coterminously he also strengthened the States’ authority for approvals and expenditure. Substance of federalism has been made more real. The fall out is that the nation’s finances are shared as 68% states and 32% centre. Governance and development apart, as affirmed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, as many as 950 subsidies are administered by the states and centre. The world’s wealthiest grouping – OECD countries – supports agriculture and agriculturists, with both huge producer and consumer subsidies. Politics is the art of the possible and the world manages itself and its obligations this way. When well administered the electorate turns pro government. Snow balling is afoot and results will be seen on 23rd May.

Volatile States

Four of the larger states with 209 constituencies compose 38.5%  of the national electorate. Maharashrata the second largest with 48 seats stabilized on the day RSS allied with BJP early this year and stands at 40 seats. The other three, Uttara Pradesh 80, West Bengal 42 and Tamil Nadu 39, having 161 seats among them continue to be volatile. Yet in all three, BJP is inching forward beyond 50%. In a month’s time the picture will be stable.

Nehru and Modi

On the eve of independence in August 1947, Nehru made his memorable, inimitable speech.

“Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny,” Yes, as the greatest intellectual in the freedom movement at that time, Nehru was one among them.

“and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure,” Nehru had a brief space of a mere 16 years to lay the foundation for a mighty structure. He also had the humility to admit “not wholly or in full measure”. To do it very substantially Patel had the briefest 2 years. 

“but very substantially. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new,” The historic occasion came in 2014 and it fell to the lot of Modi to enable India to step out from the old to the new.

“when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance”. Congress age ended and the soul of India has begun to find utterance. The Manifesto provides glimmerings as to how.

To consummate the process very substantially, Modi and the BJP need 10 more years. They are on the threshold of getting it. 

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