‘The world’s largest democracy’ cast more than 500 million votes over five weeks to decide who would win and take India roaring into the future and Narendra Modi came out on top with a huge majority. India has spoken. Decisively.
For the first time in 30 years Indian voters helped create a majority government blasting the incumbents to an insignificant minority. Right wing and Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) had long been tipped to win the election but most Delhiites I spoke to last month were sure that they wouldn’t have an outright majority and would inevitably have to form a coalition of sorts. My goodness was everyone shocked, it was time for a new generation. Even former MPs that had held on to their safe seats for 15 years or more were ousted for the first time.
Coalition governments can be a good thing, as we have seen recently in the UK, but in India the last coalition brought the country into a sort of paralysis with their lack of will and conviction. The country’s growth had begun to sputter and slowly diminish so hopefully the soon-to-be PM Narendra Modi will kickstart the economy and drive it forwards. This isn’t simply my regurgitated snippets from broadsheets, I live in Delhi part of the year and friends of mine in design and manufacturing were exasperated at the promised growth that did not materialise and the ‘do nothing’ strategies being taken at the highest levels. Whether or not one agrees with what the BJP will do at least they will do something!
Modi seems a globally polarising political figure as George W Bush was in past US elections. Indians voted for Narendra Modi but the rest of the world mostly recoiled at the thought of him becoming India’s Prime Minister.
Mr Modi became infamous due to his and his party’s apparent dislike of Muslims and riots in Gujarat that resulted in the death of 2,000 Muslims while Mr Modi was Chief Minister. But then Muslims also voted for the BJP in Jammu & Kashmir (taking all 3 seats) for example and Sikhs still vote for Congress despite the Sikh massacre in Delhi in 1984 killing approximately 3,000 Sikhs whilst under Congress rule so religion and politics isn’t entirely clear in India.
What is clear is that India is changing. Mr Modi has broken the trend of dynastic politics much beloved of the Subcontinent. Gandhi in a surname is no longer enough to swing a vote and Modi’s marketing team that coined the phrase ‘Maa/beta party or Shehzada‘ (mother/son and princeling) to describe Congress’s Sonia and Rahul Gandhi struck the heart of this discontent. Let’s hope India’s neighbour and lover of political dynasties, Pakistan, also come to their senses when the younger Bhutto (or Superman as he has branded himself…I’m not kidding he even plagarised the logo) runs in the next election. Caste is also no longer important or a strategic wild card. Mr Modi is from a lower caste who has often distanced himself from caste politics and Mayawati, a famous untouchable who rose to political power was voted out despite a once loyal huge caste voter base to tap into.
Just like in the rest of the world, I imagine people just hope for a better and more prosperous future. And just like in much of the world, politicians are a despised but necessary part of the machine to get us there.