Sunday, May 18, 2014

Mandate for the man

"Abki baar, Modi Sarkaar"
Political parties are easy to understand.  They are the most opportunistic, self centered and egoistic people on the planet. So, alliances are created compromising on principles and values, just to make up the numbers.  And often, that results in a fragile political system, with everyone clinging on to each other fearing every instant as to who is going to let go.

Most parties take the average voter for granted.  There is a point to that.  For a voter, it's very hard to switch loyalties.  Some of them have never voted for more than one party all their lives.  They believe in the legacy of the party, and feel a sense of wrongdoing when it comes to the crunch moment of switching loyalties.  So, every election is defined by swing votes from each constituency; percentage votes that can be swayed by the election campaigns.  During the 2014 elections, every vote cast felt like a swing vote, and maybe, has altered the course of Indian elections from now on, forever.

Elections 2014 - Modi wave
Elections in India is no easy task.  For such a diverse population, achieving a popular mandate is probably the hardest thing.  Caste and religion play a key role in garnering votes, and so each state votes a local party, which then enters into a coalition with Congress or BJP to secure the mandate to form the government at the center.  This convoluted process results in every Tom, Dick and Harry bargaining whatever he wants from the government, with the threat that if they don't get fulfilled, he will pull back support and bring down the government.  So, it's only a miracle that something of note gets done in the process.

When Narendra Modi, the biggest polarizing figure in Indian politics, was declared as the BJP candidate for the PM post in the country, it was the start of something that was never seen before in Indian politics.  Modi fought the elections in his typical inimitable style using the social media to his absolute advantage.  He was there everywhere - Facebook wall posts, regular tweets, revamped personal and party websites, direct messages, emails, TV, web advertising, web casting, 3D holograms and every other technological know how that one can think of.  It was in stark contrast to the chaotic and confused campaign led by the Congress.  Led is such a wrong word here because there was not a remote semblance of leadership and organization in the ranks.  Most of them in the party launched a tirade as to why they should not vote Modi into power.

Indian Elections 2014
Rahul Gandhi's interview with Arnab Goswami is now a bible for how not to make a clown out of yourself.  Some of his quotes are legendary.  There are websites now making tons of money in Adwords based on his speeches that are neither coherent nor meaningful.  It brings to question the kind of advisors that he has on his side.  Is he even getting the right kind of advice? When he entered the fray in 2009, he was a novice.  People thought that he would have learned at least something in the last five years.  He has reached a nadir in politics, and in his capacity, he made sure that Congress suffered the most humiliating defeat in their 150 year old history.  Congress now feels exactly like the way BJP was in 2009.  Lack of leadership in BJP was one of the reasons why most of the country thought that Congress was the most viable option in 2009.  How times have changed.  The country had so much hope from the young party cadres from the Congress - Gandhis, Scindhias, Pilots, Deoras and the Abdullahs.  What a bunch of jokers these guys have turned out to be.

Rahul and Sonia Gandhi in the backdrop, and that's where they'll be after the election results
Modi used all the chaos in the Congress ranks to launch perhaps the most effective election campaign in history.  It's kind of funny how the West perceives Indian politics.  Somehow, Congress has developed an image of being secular, when in stark contrast, it's vote garnering has always been on communal lines.  Before every election, they come out with "No Muslim votes should go to the BJP.  The BJP is communal."  Modi's election campaign was centered on development, jobs and economic reforms.  He did not even brandish a false image about himself.  He said that he follows the tenets of Hinduism and is proud to do so.   A religious man can be secular and there is no need to visit mosques and churches if he is a Hindu.  Modi brought that to the forefront without any inhibitions. In India, it requires a huge effort to align the different castes and sub-castes in Hinduism, and make them vote for a single party.  It's almost next to impossible.  So, if all these people have voted for a single man, the results indicate that the election was anything but communal.  It also shows what would happen if people from different castes and sub-castes of Hinduism collectively vote for a single party.  In the future, the Congress should be careful before they bring the communal card into play, as they have so often done in the past.

The NaMo wave in full swing
 The election results were stunning.  I watched the results with a group of friends well into the wee hours of the morning.  We were literally watching history.  The entire country was voting for a single man.  It was almost unanimous.  Whenever I discussed Indian politics with most of my friends, they had no doubts that they were voting for Modi and not the party.  He was everywhere.  His back room staff had planned out such an effective marketing strategy that it was impossible to overlook the good work that he had done for Gujarat.  People wanted to give him a chance, because his work was not gimmick.  He had a spectacular 14 year track record with Gujarat.  Modi's Presidential style of campaign was just too hot to handle for the Congress.  If you need further proof, check out his interview with Arnab.  It's in stark contrast to the one given by Rahul Gandhi.  His cogent thoughts and effective oratorical skills combined with sharp and witty replies automatically forces you to take his side.

NaMo frenzy
In fact, when Arnab asks Modi if he is a micro manager, Modi comes up with this brilliant reply.

"Are Bhai, mein kuch bhi nahi kartha (I don't do anything).  I believe in institutionalization of power.  I empower my Ministers completely.  We just have weekly meetings, we take decisions and move on.  I don't know why everyone credits me for Gujarat development.  I just do it with a team of able people.  The team does everything and we move on to the next task.  Luckily, with God's grace, I have always been blessed with good resource management skills.  I will continue to work with teams.  That's the only way to achieve large scale success."

Working in a large corporate organization, it's so easy to understand that explanation from Modi.  It's so important to work in teams, however brilliant you are individually.  And then, you immediately realize that there is a connect, and before you even know, you are 'Modified'.

India votes decisively
Five years ago, we used to have conversations.

"Dude, Modi is good.  But, he is such a polarizing figure that he will be a liability for the BJP.  It'll be hard for him to enter national politics."

Today, the conversation has taken a 180 degree turn.

"Modi is awesome.  We are voting only for the sake of Modi.  I hope the other leaders in the BJP do not turn out to be a liability for Modi."

Times have certainly changed.

This is the first time in 30 years that a single party has got a simple majority at the Center.  The BJP can form a government on its own.  They do not have to bow down to the whims and fancies of little known political parties.  Modi has defied his critics in spectacular fashion.  Media houses which were gunning for his head in the past have towed his line.  People who put him down are too stunned to react.  Modi, not the BJP, has received the mandate of the people.  If there is one person I would place my bets on to turn this country around, then he is the man from Gujarat who will be sworn in as the 14th 15th Prime Minister of the country on the 21st 26th of May 2014.  The country is definitely in for good times.

Note: All images taken for information purpose only and not for commercial use.