Colombo Telegraph

Reflections On Lok Sabha Election 2014

By S. Sivathasan

S. Sivathasan

Nature of Results

A total of 543 million voters have exercised their franchise to send 543 members to Lok Sabha. The BJP juggernaut with Modi at the helm has swept India clean. Over half a billion voters acting in one mind have expressed their voice loud and clear. The mandate at around 335 seats is the highest ever for BJP. Endorsement by voters at a very high percentage is unprecedented.

The grand old Congress stands devastated. State parties which ruled their brief roost beyond their states are now relegated to limbo and have lost their bargaining edge. The emerging scene is decidedly in favour of national parties for the nation and state parties for the states. India a big power is on the threshold of bringing its act together. At sight is resoluteness casting away indecisiveness in foreign and domestic policy alike.

Influencing the nation’s course apart, is the impact on neighbours and perhaps a wholesome fall out for the region. The benighted Tamils of Sri Lanka suppressed for long, look forward to seeing  the big power lifting the oppressive hand. Preceding it their voice needs to be listened to, fears assuaged, aspirations responded to and their dignity redeemed. For thirty years engagement of India had been to raise the hopes of the Tamils and then to dash them. This was done in unerring sequence causing loss of trust. Expectation now is for that confidence to be restored, multi form marginalistion to be halted and their future placed on a new trajectory.

Antecedents

Independence brought to the fore the greatest Indian, Nehru as Prime Minister. On top of it, India was blessed with the sternest in Patel as his lieutenant. He was also the ablest deputy ever. Good governance and strong stewardship went on for four decades, a brief aberration notwithstanding. At the helm now is Modi as choice of India, sterner than the sternest in the making. Times demand it the way humiliation at Versailles and the Bolshevik spectre brought forth the strongest in Germany at the appropriate moment. Democratic chaos and policy paralysis have laid their groundwork for India’s transformation.

A Watershed

In 30 years, for once India has voted the ruling party with an absolute majority. An intelligent all India electorate has chosen single party governance as the antidote to weak, indecisive and unstable governments. Knowing full well that continued unity of command should be assured to the ruling party, it has done so. This way the people’s decision breaks new ground. Together with it a two party system is being consolidated. Lightweights are getting into oblivion without so much as a whimper. Professional hangers on whose specialism is only the wily picking of a likely winner have got a short shrift. Glaring two are the Communist Parties of India. Post poll gamblers adepts in horse-deals have now seen the exit door.

Above all is the reversal of mass support and moving convincingly to national parties, veering from state parties. The two national parties have increased their seat strength close to 400, the highest since 1984. Vote share now for both is far ahead that of state parties. Three aspirants to premiership have been told by their electors not to peer beyond what their height permits. Their vaulting ambitions are laid to rest. The one from UP has been cut to size and shown her place. Two party system, good for governance is getting into form. State party dalliance with national parties is no different from the tail of the tadpole. It goes off even as the frog evolves and reaches maturity.

Political development in 2014 has attained to such a level at this watershed. If this tempo is maintained, India may see parties with an all India spread and a national policy perspective battling it out for central power and right of governance over India. The states with their vision confined to geographical and linguistic boundaries will limit their power struggles to terrain  they are familiar with. When such a change comes about, states and state formations with their particularist outlook will cease to reach for a share in central governance. Such parties and members concentrating their mental energy in the states is good for the periphery and better for the centre,

Seats and Votes for Stable Governance

A national party as in the case of Congress in the early years after independence was never precluded from capturing power in the states. BJP has now launched itself into this fray. Having entered certain states where it had no footprint earlier, it is well on its way to consolidating its presence. It is soon bound to honeycomb both state and country. In such an environment states and centre can see a dovetailing of policy and programme much to the benefit of the whole polity. Working in tandem will give way to acting at cross purposes. Observers may hopefully see such a change in its incipient stage with these remarkable results now recorded.

Assured full term and guaranteed single party support are two pivots for a stable government to draw up policies fearlessly and to implement them single mindedly. The first 40 years had 8 elections. In the first 8, as many as 6 gave to the Congress 351 to 414 seats. Popular vote for the party was 41 – 50 %.

The latter 25 years had 7 without the current one. Seats for Congress ranged from 114 to 244. Popular vote was 25.8 – 39.5%. In no less than 5, it was 29% or below. The slide was precipitous.

Today after a merciless rout, it has touched the very nadir of around 60 seats.

In 67 years since 1947, Congress has seen many a vicissitude. Seats of 414 declining to 114 and votes of 50% dwindling to 26%. In 2004 seats were short of 127 for an absolute majority and votes were less than27%. In this period DMK demanded its pound of flesh and fleeced it as well. The Communists had a fair number in 2004 with their piggy back tactics and held the government to ransom on the Indo-Us Nuclear Deal. In 2009 seats were 66 short of a majority and votes couldn’t cross 29%.

Could these two terms have been Strong? Never. For once, votes received by national parties (INC+BJP) declined to 48% and less while state formations got 51% and more. With atrocious unfairness India and the world called the two governments weak. The weakness was personalized on Man Mohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi. It was gross injustice. Do they derive their strength from thin air? No. Only through seats and votes in decisive numbers. The point being driven is that Modi’s record strength in seats and votes secured today will make for very strong governance.

Modi’s Phenomenal Achievement  

The scale of victory of BJP is very striking in 2014. It records the highest ever in 32 years and exceeds the previous high of 189. Strength will be seen to grow from the power of the ballot. Alliances have  made BJP into NDA, adding greater strength and accounting for more power. The upshot of it is to permit a strong and robust government to be in place.

Tamil Nadu and Dravidian Parties

Several sociological factors account for the emergence of Dravidian Kalagam as a rationalist movement in Tamil Nadu. From 1944 it grew fast attracting the masses till it bifurcated into two in 1949. DMK the offshoot soon overshadowed the parent organization and captured political power in 1967. It was a remarkable phenomenon in speed and scale. What explains? The sharp decline in the stock of goodwill towards Congress. The quest for freedom was spearheaded by sincerity, sacrifice and selflessness of Congress leadership. Ten years into independence and they lost their image. More disastrously the spirit of nationalism ignited by Bharathi by the turn of the century was fully aflame at the time of independence in Tamil Nadu. Both heat and light were lost on the Congress which failed to keep the spirit afire.

Riding the crest and growing apace was the social, political and literary movement under the dynamic leadership of Annadurai, Karunanithi and Neduncheliyan. Their powerful oratory matched that of Mark Antony in stirring the masses. Under the onslaught, Congress withered and wilted and collapsed in 1967.

The India-China war of 1962 thrust the gravest challenge on the DMK. The choice was between asinine adherence to separation or a flexible revision of policy in the wake of anti-secessionist legislation. Very adroitly Annadurai the leader announced revision abandoning separation in the words “Only if we have India can we have our own state”. Since then for 52 years, politically, economically, administratively and infra-structurally India and Tamil Nadu are bound together by hoops of steel. TN is as much an integral part of India as Uttara Pradesh or Gujarat. To talk of secession of Tamil Nadu and unlikely adventurism now or in the future is to talk ethereally. It is tantamount to saying that Bavaria together with Munich will fly off Germany and annex a part of Austria.

Extinction of Congress in Tamil Nadu

The failure of Congress to appreciate the rising tide of nationalism and it’s attitude of nonchalance to imposition of Hindi led to the anti-Hindi agitation of Himalayan proportions in 1966 spearheaded by DMK with youth in the forefront.

The decline and fall of the Congress in TN are the result of its duplicity in handling the Sri Lankan Tamil issue. All its actions in the UNHRC and with the Sri Lankan government were nothing but diabolical in the last 8 years of war and its aftermath. It was seen vividly as such by all Tamils. In the process of cheat it earned the antipathy of Tamil Nadu. With ill will towards the Congress, Tamils of SL directed their animosity to India. What has now followed is the demise. Now even the ashes are interred with all the good done earlier by the Congress and leaders like Rajaji and Kamaraj. Following the way of the Congress to its grave are the Dravidian formations. Why?

Time of Demise for Dravidian Parties

“If Winter comes can Spring be far behind?” – Shelley

If the Congress can depart from Tamil Nadu, can the Dravidian Parties overstay their welcome? The latter are remaining the way Congress had existed after 1962. The wiping out today is the final stamp of rejection.

In less than half a century, the DMK is devoid of its sense of mission, is riddled with corruption, soaked in  nepotism, has run out of steam, lost its way and is searching for rescuers. The AIADMK founded in 1972, a splinter in the face of corruption has become an ego centric formation existing on borrowed time. Its victory today is for want of a vibrant party. MDMK of Vaiko is another splinter of DMK which is yet not able to bring its act together. DMDK of Vijaykanth knows all too well that without partners it is lost. Hence its uneasy alliance with BJP. The PMK of Ramadas exists to keep the name alive, send the leader’s son to Parliament and  make him a minister. Other cabals are of little note. To make sense out of this senseless scene, a national party needs to enter, wipe them all out and build a future for the Tamils. In what context can this happen?

The most propitious time is when revulsion reaches its height against a certain situation. As of now all state parties in Tamil Nadu have forfeited people’s allegiance. Knowing it well DMK engaged in waste on freebies and allied frivolities. In its final year in governance it voted nearly Rs. 200 billion for such expenditure. AIADMK government voted for 2014/15 Rs 470 billion to squander resources and to impoverish the state.  When party fortunes dwindle waste is increased as legitimized bribe and yet the state party in governance fails to get two consecutive terms. When will this chicanery end?

The best time is now  to terminate flippant approach to governance and replace it with futuristic orientation of a responsible national party. The youth upsurge of early 2013 demonstrated where the political destiny of the Tamils lies. It also showed who the real compatriots of Sri Lankan Tamils are. Circumstances favour a new beginning. With youth attracted towards it, BJP can have a prize catch in getting TN into its fold. It is not unknown to the BJP that it was on the Sri Lankan Tamil plank that the youth blasted through in Tamil Nadu last year.

For quite a long time we Tamils of Sri Lanka have incurred the worst. Let us sustain our labours with the thought that the best is yet to be. If the time is ripe, let us ripen the fruit.

*The writer is a retired Ministry Secretary and a former Advisor to President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumarathunga

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