Well I’ve always wanted to write one, this seems the one place which won’t hand me a rejection slip. Moreover, at last, I think, Ive got something to say that merits being called an Op-Ed.
News headlines in India on 15 May 09 read “Elections too close to call” , “Exit Polls – Fractured Mandate”, “Weeks of horse trading ahead” and so on and so forth. On 16 May, Indian voters hit all these experts for a six, proved that they can no longer be taken for granted and that it is now about time someone credited them with plain, simple common sense.
But first the election itself. Except for the odd violence here and there, perhaps the largest single security operation undertaken by this country was an unqualified success. 60% of the 714 million electorate apparently cast their vote.The verdict was sealed and delivered within a day. The Election Commision did a job that none want to take on and did it with elan.
At last, a very very clear mandate was given to India’s oldest party. Again most of the experts give credit for victory to the Nehru – Gandhi dynasty which controls it. I think they deserve a lot of credit, this time round. Yet I also think that were it not for the unassuming, mild, honest and efficient Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, this verdict would not have been as decisive. At last we have one party, the Congress, which has been asked by the people – rich, poor, urban, rural alike – to give us governance, unencumbered by petty chieftains who with not even 10% stake held the Government to ransom earlier. It is still a coalition, but it is a coalition of the willing, not one stiched up by political expediency and horse trading.
Another redeeming feature was, and this will gladden Harb’s heart too, most of the hoodlums and dons have been shown the door in no uncertain terms. Some even fought from jail and some others, who were debarred, fought through proxy by getting their wives and kith and kin to stand. Most have been told their days are gone, face the consequences and the law first, before you come back to us.
The poor rural voter was often accused earlier of voting along religious and caste lines. This was true till recently. This time round though, all those who thought caste was a political bond and made up for lack of performance felt the recoil of the common man in no uncertain terms. Similarly those who exploited and banked on religion as a political tool tasted defeat. Their sell by dates have long passed. Those who delivered governance over the last few years were rewarded and it is wonderful to think that we have at last matured as thinking people who voted on performance and performance alone. Many voters may be illiterate, uneducated and living in abysmal poverty but they now want things and are not going to waste their precious vote on sentiment alone. Foolish promises must now on give way to performance.
The majority of the electorate was under 35, perhaps it is their new found interest in what concerns this country is what brought about this change.
There’s a lot more that can be said, but it is enough to-day to let the Congress celebrate its victory and let them start tomorrow earning points for 2014. Opportunities such as these don’t come often. They need to grab it now and establish themselves. They have been freed from the left yoke, which shackled it with unmatched arrogance, there can be no more excuses.
To-day there is just one word that most Indians carry forward – optimism.