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Marching on to build a new vibrant India

Wednesday, 15 March 2017 | Navneet Anand | in Oped

March 11 election results will provide the Government with the right set of reasons to continue with reforms, infuse new ideas, and make development the anthem

The sun did set in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday with a new message on the horizon. And as predicted last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi did manage to inspire an intense yearning for change for a new India. Ahead of Holi, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was splashed with unrivaled colors of success in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election, and one which shall have a deafening effect on opposition parties and the critics of Modi. It shall change the grammar and idiom of modern politics, which for decades, has been punctuated by poor narratives and poorer imagination. There are three loud and discernible messages for all from the results in Uttar Pradesh and four other States of Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur and Goa.

First, while it’s as banal as saying that banana grows on trees, yet it’s worth reiterating that Prime Minister Modi has acquired a stature which is unrivaled, and political parties trying to challenge the BJP has to work very hard, and extraordinarily smart, to come even closer to where he is. One must also understand that Modi’s popularity and extraordinary appeal has not come about from nowhere. It is a result of diligence, delivery, hard work, vision, imagination and commitment. First as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, and then as the Prime Minister, Modi has constantly delivered. Good governance, peppered with efficiency and transparency, has been at the core of all he does, and the results speak for itself. He carries a big rucksack of delivery and performance. Modi does not clutch on to baggage of theatrics and packaging, that many of his rivals so poorly falters with. The message is loud and clear — first work, deliver and do your home work before getting into a new innings. Merely chanting kaam bolta hai with no substance to back you up, doesn’t take you far.

Second, Muslims have for long been exploited by political thugs across the country. Treated and humiliated as a vote-bank only, the community has suffered iconic apathy and have perennially struggled to partner India’s growth story. A few political parties have treated Muslims as a fixed deposit, meant only for election-time dividends. Socio-economic indicators have continued to be poor for the Muslims, even as many backward castes have moved up the social, political and economic order. A section of the Muslims, and especially women, by voting for the BJP, may finally have broken this age-old bondage and announced their joining the journey of a new India, that Modi referred to in his post-win speech on Sunday. This must be a big sign of worry for opponents who have thrived by brandishing the BJP as a Hindu-only party, and will force them to re-think their strategies.

Third, one may wonder, if the verdict across five States also heralds the beginning of the end of regional parties, who have thrived despite their regressive, narrow and archaic politics hovering often around casteist and communal agenda? This trend began sometime ago when regional players from Jammu to Jharkhand were marginalised and had to clutch on to the BJP to stay relevant. The decimation of the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh and near annihilation of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab is a further reiteration of this trend. It clearly indicates the new craving of people to join a more progressive, sabka saath, sabka vikas, oriented politics of national parties. The Congress’ romping back to victory in Punjab and thereby bursting the feeble bubble of AAP, where the party was intensely speculating a victory, confirms that people may be fed up with desperate and rabble-rousing attempts by this tiny tot of Indian politics. Rejection by goans of AAP is another proof.

For a country fiercely trying to rejuvenate its political and developmental agenda, this election results offer the right set of ammunition. It strengthens the incumbent Union Government and provides it with right set of reasons to continue with reforms, infuse new ideas, and make development as the new national anthem. This March tells Narendra Modi to march on to build a vibrant, new India.

(The writer is a strategic communications professional)