By Brig. Anil Gupta (Retd)*
With the election euphoria over and the Bharatiya Janata Party getting an unprecedented mandate from the heartland and forming governments in four out of the five states that went to polls, it is time now to get down to brass-tacks.
The next two years leading to the 2019 General Elections are not only going to be crucial but critical for the party. The delivery phase needs to be speeded up and the results made visible and obvious.
BJP with its pan-India presence has become harbinger of hope for a developed India or “New India” as Prime Minister Narendra Modi put it. The election results have also thrown up several lessons for all the political parties, especially the regional parties.
The myth that the electorate prefers regional parties for assembly elections and national parties for the parliamentary polls has been busted. The regional parties have not only been humiliated but marginalised as well. The voter has risen above the caste/religion-based politics, a gift of Indira era to Indian politics, and voted for development.
Youth which comprises 65 per cent of the national population has emerged as the centre of gravity in Indian politics. The youth has only one demand and that is a “better future”. The youth has rejected dynastic politics which is proved amply from the defeat of the SP-Congress combine in Uttar Pradesh.
The Muslim voters have come out openly against the myopic vision of their leadership and expressed their desire to be part of a modern, developed and truly secular India. Time has come to put emotive issues on the back-burner and work for the development of the country.
Prime Minister Modi has summed up the people’s aspirations beautifully. “I see this victory, especially in Uttar Pradesh, as the foundation of a new India where 65 per cent of the population will be of young people below 35 years of age … a new India of vigilant women. A new India where people do not want anything by way of charity, but seek opportunity to chart their own course … India is transforming, powered by strength of each and every citizen of India. An India that is driven by innovation, hard work and creativity; an India characterised by peace, unity and brotherhood; and an India free from corruption, terrorism, black money and dirt.”
The Prime Minister’s vision for “New India” is not new. BJP had promised “Sushashan yukt aur Bhrastachar mukt Sarkar” after the 2014 mandate. More than 50 people-oriented welfare schemes — bereft of caste, colour, religion or creed — launched by the Modi government after coming to power bear testimony to the party’s philosophy of “Sab Ka Saath Sab Ka Vikas” and economic ideology of “Antyodaya” and its commitment to development with a view to benefitting the poorest of the poor without any differentiation.
The people of the country are fed up with the disruptive and retrograde politics of the opposition parties. They condemn the politics of sloganeering and symbolism adopted by the opposition parties.
The Congress has to accept that it does not enjoy “divine right” to rule this country. A constructive, critical and cooperative opposition is the need of the hour. Parliament should be used for framing statutes rather than scoring political brownie points. People do not appreciate personal attacks and hitting below the belt. That frequent disruptions of Parliament are a major hindrance to the emergence of “New India” and not a way to oppose the government needs to be realised by all the political parties.
People want to listen to healthy debates rather than acrimonious free for all shouting bouts. The warning given by the people is loud and clear — it is for the opposition parties to head the warning or be prepared for total annihilation.
The monumental victory has thrown bigger challenges for not only the central government but all BJP-led state governments as well. Many of them are due to face the electorate in the near future.
Development has to be the core agenda of governance and the aspirations of the people the guiding principle for planning. As far as the Central government is concerned, people are expecting miracles from Modi. He appears to the people not only as a
“messiah of development” but a panacea of all ills facing the country.
The nation is looking up to Modi eagerly to resolve the complex Kashmir issue. There is no doubt that all is not well as far as Kashmir is concerned. Kashmir is an integral part of India but that a section of Kashmiris are alienated has been established beyond doubt. Winning over this section of the Kashmiri society without resorting to appeasement is the litmus test of the Modi government.
People also expect Modi to teach Pakistan a lesson for its continuous errant behaviour as well as its adoption of terrorism as an instrument of state policy against India. For this, both internal and external security mechanisms need to be modernised and strengthened. Presently there are many loop holes and loose ends which need to be plugged.
The armed forces of the nation, the last bastion of the nation’s sovereignty, need to be not only equipped well but also looked after well to ensure their morale.
A deft handling of the situation in the North-East is another major expectation from the government. The government can ill afford to let the North-East flare up again — more so when it is the ruling party in most of the states there.
The Naxalite problem has been contained but a final assault to eliminate the same is also expected by the people from this government.
While the government has been successful in containing inflation, it has yet to overcome the problem of price rise. Though an emotive issue, it affects all segments of the society and people do express their resentment. The government’s fight against corruption and black money is being appreciated by the people but they are demanding more.
The dream of “Swachh Bharat” is yet a distant dream. The allegations of misuse of funds and poor quality of work need to be looked into by the government on priority.
*The author is a Jammu-based political commentator, columnist, and security and strategic analyst. Comments and suggestions on this article can be sent to [email protected]