Narendra Modi: Your time starts now

May 17 2014, 08:29 IST
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SummaryAn ordinary yet extraordinary Indian has been gifted power to chart history. He must handle it with care.

We had hailed the verdict of 2009 as an affirmation of the rise of an aspirational new India, leaving behind the old politics of grievance. The mandate of 2014 is a logical step forward. Aspirational voters are also impatient, unforgiving, uncluttered and more transactional. You come to them seeking the supreme gift in a democracy, the gift of power to rule over them and the first question they are likely to ask you is, what will you do for me? If you are old-fashioned and are disconcerted by this, you can call this the arrival of India’s selfie generation.

But it’s a reality. We would, therefore, prefer to hail this as the rise of India’s post-ideological young generation. And politics.

This is a provocative formulation. It will be contested and, arguably, so. If BJP’s entire Lok Sabha contingent of 272+ does not have a single Muslim — which means a population segment of nearly 15 per cent has found no representation in what is a national wave — can you really call this verdict post-ideological? Isn’t this, on the contrary, a majoritarian assertion, the final victory of the social right, a garv se kaho hum majority hain moment? It would be tempting but avoidable to jump to hasty conclusions yet.

For one, Narendra Modi has not used any polarising language or articulated any exclusivist agenda through his campaign. On minorities and foreign policy, his language has been measured and mainstream. We are, of course, overlooking some of the campaign static from some of his supporters. Second, he has masterfully sold the dream of a fast-developing, booming India.

We should welcome the fact that this is a victory achieved primarily on an unqualified promise of economic reform never seen in our political history, soaked as it is in the fading pink of fake socialism. This result, therefore, is also a devastating popular rejection of outdated, Congress-style povertarianism: I declare all of you Indians hungry and wretched and will throw free food at you. I will feed you a free meal at my school even if I cannot teach you anything there because my teachers don’t come to work. This has been dumped down the garbage chute now.

It is also a mandate for Indian self-esteem. For five years we had a government run under an arrangement humiliating to India. No democracy likes the office of its chief executive diminished to dust while power

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