So Modi won. I was one of the few in denial about it till the very end. I was taken aback by the scale of his triumph, though I knew he had many supporters among the urban middle class.
Apparently unlike most Indians, I am unwilling to overlook the sins of the past, especially of the magnitude that we witnessed in Gujarat. The idea of a man who at best let such things happen on his watch and at worst who was complicit in them leading the country fills me with dread, but what is more dreadful is that most people seem to be able to shrug this off.
Middle class Indians are obsessed with development and are convinced only Modi can deliver it. There’s no questioning of the development model, of who wins and who loses. We seem unconcerned by the increasing pushback from sections of society that never seem to be at the receiving end of development. As long as urban areas seem to be developing, it’s fine. Someone mentioned that the middle class is essentially selfish, and maybe that’s why the choice of selective development is so easy.
And of all the people to push this development, it was decided that Modi was The One. The fact that there are leaders of other states with higher performance indicators doesn’t seem to have registered, though I guess regional players like Jayalalitha would not have had the national reach to be able to win this election so someone who could galvanize the nation and had what was perceived to be a great (but was more realistically only a decent) track record was elevated to the position of messiah. The euphoria over Modi’s win reminds me of the euphoria over Obama’s win (that I shared in), although they are at opposite ends of the political spectrum. Like Obama, I don’t think Modi is going to be able to deliver everything people expect. However, he has a huge majority in Parliament and no excuses. I wonder how people will react when this comes to pass. Will they be forgiving? Or will we see a turn back to stoking communal tensions to detract attention from more difficult problems.
There are those who believe that Modi being a pragmatist will abandon the communalist fervour that propelled him to power now that he is a national leader with a different agenda. I’m skeptical but we can only hope. I’m not hoping for development so much as peace, freedom and civil liberties to be maintained. If development that is fair to all sections of society happens, then that will be a pleasant surprise.