Sunday, May 18, 2014

Final thoughts on the election - or my way of dealing with the withdrawal symptoms

Modi's win didn't really surprise anyone. Only the extent of the win was mindblowing. Personally, despite being a long-time detractor I do see positives in the outcome. A near-absolute majority should ease the frustrating policy paralysis that we witnessed in the last few years. Mr. Modi, so far, has been saying all the right things. Something tells me that he is keen to leave a positive legacy and that might be a very good thing for all of us. A single party having the simple majority on its own translates to fewer egos in the coalition that need to be massaged. Lastly for a party accused of being old-fashioned they ran one hell of a 21st century campaign. It makes me believe they are capable of bringing that slickness to the functioning of the government too.

There are things I'm sceptical about, though. The looneys that usually side with the BJP, I believe, were under instructions to stay out of sight at least till the election results are declared. Expect them to slowly start crawling out of the woodwork. I'm hoping Modi's famous autocratic methods will keep the extremists on the margins. There are large sections of people that are under-represented in this Lok Sabha. The muslim representation in this parliament is a pathetic 22 out of 543 seats. In a fair world we should have had at least 4 times that number but that's a vagary of the Westminster system. I do hope that the new government will consider itself accountable to every person in the country, even folks who didn't vote for them. The party has some contentious issues on their manifesto and the people that did vote for them will ask for them to be addressed. I do hope that Modi can bury some of those issues (the temple!) and go after the others (uniform civil code) with finesse and restraint.

Personally for me, as a supporter of AAP, this election has been disappointing. I'm left with a lot of what-ifs. Kejriwal hasn't been an easy leader to cheer. While his unreasonableness got him the early gains, the same trait was a handicap in this election. I believe if Kejriwal had been pragmatic, contested in Delhi, and used his time and energy to help his other colleagues win, we would have seen 10-15 AAP MPs. Someone like Yogendra Yadav would have been a fine man to sit in the opposition. I do hope that they continue to grow in strength because there is a need for a party like AAP that is uncompromising on corruption, does not have a phobia of muslims or sexual minorities, and can actually make politics look like a career option for anyone in the land. But I believe there is an existential threat right now for the party. If elections are held in Delhi this moment, my guess is that BJP will wrest some votes back from AAP. If that happens there is a serious threat of AAP getting relegated to the footnotes of history. That would be a real shame.