What Lessons Can The Election Results Teach Us?

What Lessons Can The Election Results Teach Us?

There have been times when the electorate has wavered from the secular path, but has soon realised its folly and voted against mixing of religion with politics

Abhay MokashiUpdated: Friday, June 07, 2024, 10:46 PM IST
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Representative Image | Marc Hatot/Pixabay

There are several lessons to learn from the results of the Lok Sabha 2024 elections, the biggest being that the Indian electorate cannot be taken for granted. Several times in the past, the electorate has shown its political maturity through its voting rights.

The all-powerful Indira Gandhi was not only voted out of power due to the Emergency, but had to face defeat in her constituency too. Yet, she was brought back to power in less than three years. The Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party, Janata Party and Janata Dal have been voted out of power in the past by the electorate, which has shown its political power.

There have been times when the electorate has wavered from the secular path, but has soon realised its folly and voted against mixing of religion with politics.

In the 2024 general elections, the BJP primarily concentrated on religion and other emotional issues, keeping aside major issues affecting the public at large, like inflation, unemployment, issues of farmers and of the underprivileged.

For the BJP, a party founded on the agenda of Hindutva, the construction of the Ram temple at Ayodhya was a national issue and the party leadership firmly believed that the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya will bring it back to power with a thumping majority. The occasionally gullible population, which had fallen for the Hindutva agenda in the past, did not succumb to it this time, though the Hindu population has a vast majority in the country.

The defeated of the BJP in Faizabad, which includes Ayodhya, is a slap in the face of the party with the Hindutva agenda and which has been dreaming of making India a Hindu nation.

All the propaganda about the Ram temple, slogans of electing the person who “brought” Lord Ram, hoisting of millions of saffron flags with Lord Ram’s image etc failed to secure the 370 seats that Narendra Modi and his party dreamt of.

The electorate has proved that nobody is invincible. No doubt, Modi, who was considered to be the most powerful leader with no alternative, has been reelected from Varanasi; however, for a man of his popularity the victory margin is abysmally low.

The verdict of the electorate is clearly against Modi, since the election was fought primarily in his name rather than in the name of the party. Respecting the mood of the nation, Modi should have announced that he will not be prime minister. But such a decision can be taken only by an ethical leader or a statesman; he is neither.

Now that it is clear that Modi will take oath as the Prime Minister of India once again, it is going to be tough for him. Just as cowards die a thousand deaths, so do narcissists and dominating people, when they are challenged. Modi and his party do not have an absolute majority on their own in the Lok Sabha and have to depend on other partners of the National Democratic Alliance, primarily the Telugu Desam Party and Janata Dal (United) headed by Chandrababu Naidu and Nitish Kumar respectively.

Naidu and Nitish Kumar are seasoned politicians, with excellent administrative abilities, which is going to be a bane for Modi, who has had his way in the central cabinet for a decade. He acted in a dictatorial manner, taking decisions as he liked, on most occasions without taking into consideration other members of the cabinet. That will not be allowed to happen now. Even if Naidu and Nitish Kumar do not join the union cabinet, they will ensure their strong candidates represent their respective parties in the cabinet.

Both the NDA partners are said to have sought their pound of flesh and it is clear from media reports that they are seeking prime ministries for their parties. If the BJP is forced to surrender the ministries sought, the Ministers will not meekly accept whatever Modi says. They will have their loyalties to their respective leaders, rather than to Modi, unlike the situation of BJP members of the cabinet. In such a situation, Modi will be a powerless prime minister, with the reins in the hands of Nitish and Naidu.

Modi will not be able to promote himself through advertisements at the cost of the exchequer, the way he did for a decade. He will not be able to force himself as the launcher of every project of the union government. He will become accountable to the two major NDA partners, TDP and JDU. Under the circumstances, some of the BJP ministers might also dare to express their deferring views in cabinet meetings.

In Parliament too, there will be a strong Opposition, as compared to what it was in the first two terms of Modi as the Leader of the House. So, there will be less opportunities for ruling party members to indulge in monkey tricks and boo the Opposition members.

It is likely that the Speaker of the Lok Sabha would be from the TDP or JDU and that person may not be as partisan as Om Birla, the Speaker in the last Lok Sabha.

Finally, it must be said that in his third term as the prime minister, Modi will be leading an unstable government, though the NDA has the numbers. History has shown that there has been no love lost between the BJP and its leaders on one side and Naidu and Nitish on the other. It will not take time for the latter to divorce the alliance at the slightest provocation, and join hands with INDIA to remain in power.

In the light of all this, it will not be surprising to see a mellowed-down Modi. In the jungle even the tiger eats grass.

The author is a senior journalist and media trainer. He tweets at @a_mokashi

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