A thumping vote for change

N. S. Vageesh Mumbai | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on May 16, 2014

As Narendra Modi moves from Gujarat to Delhi, he will have to expand his vision and accommodate the dizzying diversity and plurality of the Indian nation. 

A strong mandate for change is what the verdict of Lok Sabha 2014 seems to represent, going by the trends thrown up by the lead positions of various parties. After watching weak coalitions being cobbled together by unlikely allies for the past 20 years (and then subsequently hobbled by their intransigence), a disgusted public has given vent to its wrath by voting in the BJP.

The unseemly sight of one member and two-member parties having a seat at the high table of Government and then dictating terms for their support (whether it was for NDA or for the UPA) has certainly incensed voters.

In giving the BJP what seems to be the largest mandate for a single party in the last three decades after 1984, the voting public have sent a clear message of their aspirations for a better future. Strong governance, focus on infrastructure, law and order, growth and development are the buzz words that have resonated with the electorate this time.

Narendra Modi, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, has every reason to be happy with the way his campaign went. From meticulous planning to equally good execution for the past 18 months, he has led the way for BJP’s resurgence. Along the way, he turned the election into a presidential one. As some seasoned observers remarked, “This really was a one-horse race. There was no other contender to speak of.”

What will clearly aid him is the decisive mandate that he seems to have secured. He will not have to grovel before allies like the unfortunate Dr Manmohan Singh or to some extent even his own party patriarch Atal Bihari Vajpayee. The numbers did not favour either of them. Under Vajpayee, the BJP was able to secure a maximum of 182 seats while the Congress got a maximum of 206 seats. This limited their room for manoeuvre considerably.

Often this led to negotiations with allies for plum posts — and in the bargain the loaves of office were often distributed to unscrupulous men and women who used them for rent seeking. As has been said about many Governments — they were in office, but not in power.

Now, there is a chance to change that. A number of pressing tasks await the new Government. As Narendra Modi moves from Gujarat to Delhi, he will have to expand his vision and accommodate the dizzying diversity and plurality of the Indian nation. He will have to be flexible and sensitive to concerns of minorities and other marginalised sections of the society. At the same time, he must remember the words of a British Viceroy who said many decades earlier — India must be governed firmly, or not at all.

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Published on May 16, 2014
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