Update: It might seem pretty astonishing, but when Yadu told me about the National Public radio's coverage on the Indian elections, I really could not believe it until I heard this (Click on the listen now link at the top of the page). It is totally hilarious, and I hope Rajdeep Sardesai listens to this and calms down!!!
In what may be the most clear cut verdict since 1977 in the recently concluded Lok Sabha polls, India emerged out of the shadow of coalition governance, with sulking high profile trouble makers, to offer a unanimous verdict in favor of a stable government at the center. There was a definite paradigm shift in the voting pattern in most of the states in the country. The Indian National Congress was in a revival mode, and after the country had been battered and bruised, everybody was in a mood to vote for a nationalist party, be it the Congress or the BJP. Even during the lead up to the elections, I offered my not-required view to my friends, "I have a feeling Rahul Gandhi will play a major role in influencing the voter's mind during these elections. Personally, I think we should vote for a set of dynamic young leaders to transform our country's affairs. Congress, with youth politicians like Jyothiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot, Rahul Gandhi and others should be given a chance." Some of my friends were obviously dismissive of my suggestion, "Come on, Rahul Gandhi still needs time." But, I was certainly thinking, and I think, so were a billion people back home. At least, people were not dismissive of Rahul Gandhi anymore. I was following his campaign schedule in Uttar Pradesh, and was actually surprised to see him interact with the rural masses. It may be a gimmick, but at least, there is a start somewhere.
Unlike in 2004, when Congress staked claim to form the government at the center without a resounding majority, now, they have clearly obtained the people's mandate. India has been absolutely clear in delivering what was required. As the last phase of the polls was entering Tamil Nadu, I asked my family members, and as each of them was choosing the lesser of the two evils, it was clear that the Dravidian movement was difficult to subside there. It was always the AIADMK or the DMK that held the key as far as the Lok Sabha seats from Tamil Nadu were concerned. As they reeled out, "I am going to vote for AIADMK/ DMK", my cousin who has just graduated from Engineering made it a point to travel all the way from Madras to Coimbatore to cast his vote on a weekday. He was very clear in what he wanted. "I am going to vote for Rahul Gandhi. I am tired of the others. Let us go for a dynamic young leader." I was actually surprised by the clarity of his thought. It also reflected what the youngsters were thinking. Clearly, the Congress did not have anything to lose. On hindsight, if you look at the Congress manifesto, and a whole lot of other factors, it is easy to notice why they won.
1.) The current Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh was projected as the Prime Ministerial candidate well before the polls. Going by Dr. Singh's track record, there is no disputing his integrity or honesty. Even during the Indo-US nuclear alliance, I was pretty convinced that if Dr. Singh is backing the deal, we should go for the deal. He is a kind of person who would not compromise our national interests at any cost. His detractors may say that he is a puppet of the Congress chief, but there is no denying the fact that he is one among the handful of most honest and trustworthy politicians we have in the country at the moment. The Congress had to make its PM candidate clear. Had it been Sonia Gandhi who was projected as the PM, the congress would have lost a lot of votes due to the foreign origin factor.
2.) Congress has projected a lot of young candidates in its ranks. India is looking for a definite transformation, and we need as many youngsters as possible to bring a vibrant change in the country.
3.) India does not want a patch up of lower rung parties to have a say in the government at the center. Actually, people were fed up with the way Left had let down the government after the nuclear deal. There was no point dilly-dallying with parties who had a handful of seats and wanted to play a big role in the government formation. People did not want the government at the center to be negotiating with parties left, right and center, and the only solution was to give the single largest party the free hand to run the country.
4.) Imagine if Congress/ BJP had not got a clear mandate. Who would have been the PM of the country? It is even dreadful to think what would have happened if a clear majority was not obtained. I have no hesitation in saying that our country would have been in wrong hands. It is very clear that this was one of the major factors why the Congress led UPA (United Progressive Alliance) romped home with an absolute majority.
5.) We need a constructive opposition. We do not want people to be arguing over every decision the government takes. In the past four years, we have noticed that there have been outright rejections to whatever steps the government has taken. It is high time our opposition plays the role of a responsible unit and tries to win the confidence of the people.
6.) The NDA has to go for a leadership change. LK Advani is already old to be at the helm of affairs, and there should be a clear visionary to take over the reins. We need people like Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, Arun Shourie and Narendra Modi taking over bigger responsibilities. India is already fed up of communal issues, and political parties definitely have to come out of temple issues, the religious divide and concentrate on progressing forward. At least, after the 26/11 Mumbai blasts, India is not ready to trust its politicians anymore. Basically, BJP needs to identify a young dynamic leader within its ranks, and release a strong manifesto with immediate effect.
In the end, all these and other factors favored a decisive Congress victory. The Congress now is well within its ability to move forward from here. It is a massive verdict. The Congress should definitely rejoice at this resounding victory, but the actual work has to start now. This is the best time for the party to repay back to the Indian voter in terms of good work and strong economic reforms. I, along with a billion people, wish the best of luck to the new government at the center, and I sincerely hope that elections 2009 will herald a new chapter in our country giving us absolute all round development and a strong progressive economy.
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