The headline is misleading. I am no patriot. I nurture a healthy distaste for the very idea of patriotism. And I nurture a healthier suspicion of anyone who professes patriotism. What I see is someone pushing unhealthy personal agendas. I was born in this country. I am a citizen of this country. That is an accident of history. I had nothing to do with it. I wish well for this country. I wish well for the whole world, not just for this country.
Yet, today I weep for this country. My worst fears have been realized. NDA has won the election. Narendra Modi is to be sworn in as the new Prime Minister.
It is not that I had not anticipated this eventuality. I had predicted it twelve years ago. Still, now that the worst has actually happened, I am concerned for the country and its people.
I had hoped that UPA, NDA and AAP would each win between 100 and 150 seats. My wishful thinking. What might have been……. What should have been………. But the voters of this country have proved me wrong. They have shown that they value promise of material wealth above moral rectitude in the life of a nation.
It is not that they did not have the option of voting in an honest party. They had. Otherwise they could not be blamed for having chosen between equally unpalatable choices. This election, for the first time in the life of this democracy, they had a credible option. Yet, they chose pelf and religious bigotry. Not something to be proud of.
I had supported Aam Aadmi Party’s decision to contest over four hundred seats, spread all over the country. The idea was that any voter, anywhere in the country, who wanted to vote for an honest party should have the option of doing it. AAP had done its dharma by providing that option. Not enough voters did their dharma by voting for them.
Conventional wisdom dictated that AAP should concentrate their limited material resources in a couple of dozen safe seats and focus on winning them. That would have been sage counsel in conventional politics. But then the whole point was that AAP did not represent conventional politics. Just look at what sixty years of conventional politics have got us. And now we have got more of the same – in an even more reprehensible form.
Enough of my doom and gloom. It is not that I expect Mr. Modi to start building concentration camps for the Muslims of this country. Or that he is going to introduce Manusmriti in the school curriculum. Or ban free speech or right to assembly. He is not going to do any of that. The man is too smart for that. He did not come this far by being a fool. His knowledge of history might be embarrassing, but, a fool, he is not.
As Prime Ministers go, he may not even be a bad one, at that. Chances are that he might be a tolerably good PM. If he does take India into double digit GDP growth, he should be accorded the respect due to him, for managing that. If he should continue the programmes for social entitlement, credit him for his good sense. If he should provide an efficient administration, applaud him that. A clean administration? I don’t think we should be so wildly unrealistic. We will have to wait for AAP for that.
We must be prepared for a rather long wait. I suspect that Prime Minister Modi is going to be around for a long time. He might well do a Gujarat, and win two more terms. Best to be prepared. It is not going to be a good time for left liberals like me. But then we are a minority. The majority Hindu right conservative bourgeoisie will be happy in their parochial, patriarchal, consumer heaven. Their women can be happy buying gold and stuffing themselves, and forget about notions of freedom and personal growth. As for other women……… (what is the policy on sexual metaphors on this blog?) Well, bad scene.
We are going to need Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party more than ever. Just as Modi grows in strength as Prime Minister, let us hope Kejriewal will grow in strength in the opposition benches, and out in the streets. Let us get used to the idea that AAP is also here to stay. This is one genie that is not going back into any bottle. We could do without Modi, Congress or any of the other political parties. But we need Arvind Kejriwal. And AAP. They are to be the conscience keepers of this nation. I just hope that they are up to doing this job.
So while I mourn the fact that AAP will not form the new government, I console myself with the fact that they even exist. That in itself is huge. India Against Corruption failed as a movement. But that gave us AAP. No one really expected them to win at the national level, at this point in time. It does not matter. They are the biggest and the best thing that happened in the sixteenth Parliamentary Election of India. India is richer for it.
As for Modi becoming PM, it is okay……. We will learn to live with it.