Skip to main content

2019 polls: "Mainstream" Indians accepted Hindu nationalism for their safety, security

By Nava Thakuria*
Amidst talk of majority-based politics and Hindu-centric propagandas vertically dividing the country and one man worship, the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) triumphed again in the recently concluded national elections of India. There was an undercurrent of cautious nationalism, which led to the NDA crossed the tally of winners up to 353 in the 543 member Lok Sabha, the lower house of Parliament.
BJP alone emerged victorious in 303 Parliamentary seats crossing the magic number (272) to form the federal government in New Delhi, where the prime opposition party Indian National Congress along with its allies remained restricted within hundred seats in the Lok Sabha.
The rightist political party, led by hardliner Prime Minister Narendra Modi succeeded in spreading its presence to almost all corners of the huge south-Asian country. States of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh along with Bengal, Odisha, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Jharkhand witnessed massive victory for candidates belonged to BJP or its allies, which was far better than the 2014 general elections.
The billion-plus nation witnessed seven-phase polling exercise (April 11 to May 19) through electronic voting machines (EVM), supported by the voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) mechanism, where over 700 million voters participated in the process.
As the counting of votes began on May 23, which started reflecting the prediction of exit polls to indicate for a comfortable majority of NDA in 17th Lok Sabha, various foreign media outlets began circulating articles to downplay Modi’s magnificent poll-victories. Those media contributors termed the achievement of Modi as one man’s over ambitious aggression to saffronisation of democracy to anti-minority trepidation.
Modi planned the electoral campaigns as Presidential style of polls where the prime slogan was Phir Ek Bar Modi Sarkar (Once Again Modi Government, not NDA or BJP government). Even though putting exclusive focus on one individual simply contradicts to the concept of India’s decades’ long Parliamentary democracy, but the entire opposition could not resist the tendency.
None could match to Modi’s personality, oratory skill and the leadership quality. Riding on a pro-incumbency wave, Modi along with saffron party chief Amit Shah promoted national pride with the clean ideology of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The Hindu nationalist leaders projected their “aggressive” foreign policy, which allegedly enhanced India’s relationship with various superpowers like USA, Russia, China, Japan, UK, Israel etc.
While the opposition leaders repeatedly termed Modi as a liar and thief, millions of electorate, including a large section of young and educated voters seemed to accept Modi’s campaign for referring to corruption free image, digitization of economy, skill development, new bank accounts to poor families, etc. At least 220 million Indians were claimed to have directly benefited from various welfare schemes of the Modi government ranging from new toilets to houses for poor families, cooking gas and electricity connection to health insurance schemes etc.
More than this, Modi projected himself as a capable leader to address terrorism, homegrown or exported from outside (Pakistan). He campaigned against dynastic politics of not only the (Indira-Rajiv) Gandhi dynasty, but also the political families of Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mayawati, Sharad Pawar, Bhupinder Hooda, Ashok Gehlot etc.
Even in the restive Northeast, where separatist militants once ran parallel administrations, the lotus bloomed for the saffron party. The region with 25 Parliamentary seats was swept by BJP and its allies to elect 18 members to the NDA tally. Voters of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim hopted for BJP and NDA constitute Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) for their province governments in Itanagar and Gangtok.
Keeping alive the national trend, where many veteran Congress leaders lost the electoral battles, northeastern voters also rejected many influential Congress candidates. While the grand old party was losing its vote-shares, BJP nominees had two Lok Sabha seats of Tripura and one seat in Manipur for the first time.
Unlike many parts of the country (particularly West Bengal), where various phase of polling marred with violence, northeastern region witnessed very peaceful, participatory and smooth electoral process that might have helped the residents of various ethnic communities to nurture a new kind of nationalism where the electorate came forward for a “strong, safe and prosperous” India.
With Islamist-sponsored terrorism continues grabbing the international media headlines, the mainstream Indians perhaps accepted the Hindu nationalism for their safety and security. During the elections, an invisible wave of nationalism defied the relentless campaigns generated by those who claim to be secular, tolerant and liberal sections.
---
*Political commentator based in northeast India

Comments

TRENDING

Bharat Ratna nominee ‘joined hands’ with British masters to 'crush' Quit India

By Shamsul Islam*
The Quit India Movement (QIM), also known as ‘August Kranti' (August Revolution), was a nation-wide Civil Disobedience Movement for which a call was given on August 7, 1942 by the Bombay session of the All-India Congress Committee. It was to begin on August 9 as per Gandhi's call to 'Do or Die' in his Quit India speech delivered in Bombay at the Gowalia Tank Maidan on August 8. Since then August 9 is celebrated as August Kranti Divas.

132 Gujarat citizens, including IIM-A faculty, others declare solidarity with Kashmiris

Counterview Desk
A week after it was floated, 132 activists, academics, students, artists and other concerned citizens of Gujarat, backed by 118 living in different parts of India and the world, have signed a "solidarity letter" supporting the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), who, it claims, have been silenced and held captive in their own land. The signatories include faculty members and scholars of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A).

Plebiscite in J&K? Delhi meet demands implementation of UN 'commitment'

Counterview Desk
A citizens’ protest, organised on October 19 at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, to protest against the 75 days of “oppression” of the people of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) saw over 200 activists, academics, intellectuals, prominent citizens, students, citizens from a large number of groups controversially appeared to suggest holding plebiscite in order to decide the future of the state.

Without tribal consent? 1,000 of 1,700 acres 'acquired' off Statue of Unity, Narmada dam

By Our Representative 
The Gujarat government has already acquired 1,100 acres out of 1,700 acres of the tribal land of six villages – Navagam, Limdi, Gora, Vagadia, Kevadia and Mithi – for developing tourism next to the 182-metre high Statue of Unity, the world's tallest, putting at risk the livelihood option of their 8,000 residents, and is all set to acquire rest of the land, representatives of the villagers have alleged in Ahmedabad.

Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canal…

Ceramic worker dies: 20,000 workers in Thangadh, Gujarat, 'risk' deadly silicosis

By Our Representative
Even as the country was busy preparing for the Janmashtami festival on Saturday, Hareshbhai, a 46-year-old ceramic worker from suffering from the fatal lung disease silicosis, passed away. He worked in a ceramic unit in Thangadh in Surendranagar district of Gujarat from 2000 to 2016.
Hareshbhai was diagnosed with the disease by the GCS Medical College, Naroda Road, Ahmedabad in 2014. He was found to be suffering from progressive massive fibrosis. He is left behind by his wife Rekha sister and two sons Deepak (18) and Umesh (12),
The death of Hareshbhai, says Jagdish Patel of the health rights group Peoples Training and Research Centre (PTRC), suggests that silicosis, an occupational disease, can be prevented but not cured, and the Factory Act has sufficient provisions to prevent this.
According to Patel, the pottery industry in the industrial town of Thangadh has evolved for a long time and locals as well as migrant workers are employed here. There are abou…

Cess for Gujarat construction workers: Spending less than 10%; no 'direct help' to beneficiaries

By Our Representative
While the Gujarat government’s Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board, set up in 2004, as of March 31, 2019, has collected a total cess of Rs 2,097.62 crore from the the builders, it has spent less than 10% -- Rs 197.17 crore. And, as on May 31, 2019, the total cess collection has reached Rs 2,583.16 crore, said a statement issued by Bandhkam Majur Sagathan general secretary Vipul Pandya.
Pointing out that just about 6.5 lakh out of 20 lakh workers have been registered under the board, Pandya said, vis-à-vis other states, Gujarat ranks No 13th in the amount spent on the welfare of the construction workers, while 11th in the amount collected.
And while the builders are obliged to pay just about 1% of the total cost of their project, the calculation of the cess is flawed: It is Rs 3,000 per square yard; accordingly, Rs 30 per square yard is collected. “Had the cess been collected on the real construction cost, it would have been at least Rs 7,000 cr…