India’s new Prime Minister-to-be Narendra Modi
For the first time in India’s history, there is now a clearly defined and resoundingly backed right-of-center alternative to the Congress Party. While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has won many elections in the past, it is for the first time that it has won a clear majority of its own strength and in the process established itself nationally. It may be a politic thing to say that this is the victory of the BJP collectively but the simple fact is that it is the unambiguous triumph of Narendra Modi’s singular self-belief. I do not have to be a supporter of Modi to acknowledge this obvious fact.
All such political triumphs are necessarily collective in nature but they also need one single individual to ignite the fuse and be the fuel. It is indisputable that he has played that role with manifest success. The last time a party won a majority on its strength was 1984 when Rajiv Gandhi rode a gigantic emotional sympathy wave in the aftermath of his mother Indira Gandhi’s assassination. Gandhi’s Congress party won 401 seats out of the 508 it contested. However, that victory was only marginally a personal triumph. It was mainly a gift by the people of India to a bereaved son. In many ways, Modi’s spectacular emergence on the national scene is something he virtually divined in his mind and made it happen. Once again, you do not have to be a Modi camp-follower to see that because facts exist independent of partisanship, personal biases, predilections and prejudices.
The historic thrashing that the Congress Party has received is eminently deserved and may in the long run help it moderate its hubris accumulated after decades of victories. The party’s rout comes after ten years of being in power. Why would anyone with a reasonably functioning brain think that India’s exacting electorate would indulge it any longer? Winning the lowest number of seats in its history is as good an excuse/opportunity as any for its leadership to spend the next five years on fundamentally overhauling itself, including end its addiction to the Gandhis. It would have been even better if both, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi had lost their respective seats as well. Parties, like civilizations and even life, need that level of dissolution to regenerate and return as something entirely new.
One major advantage of having no emotional stake or ideological investment in the goings-on is that one can see things clearly. None of what I am saying is anything but facts stacked up. From an obscure ideological insider barely 13 years ago to someone who catapulted himself to the country’s prime minister, it is a story of sheer gumption. It is redundant whether I support him or not. As stories of singular and personal political triumphs go, Narendra Modi’s is arguably unrivaled in India’s modern history. None of this, of course, guarantees his success as prime minister. That is a whole different challenge.