Resurgence of Hope: India Rejects Divisive Politics and Embraces Hope and Resilience

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By Amit Sengupta, Copy Edited By Adam Rizvi, The India Observer, TIO: There was no wave. However, there was a simmering undercurrent. Invisible. Profound. Patient.  Loaded with angst and anger. Like a storm brewing within the stasis of a surface. Like a deep longing for justice and fair-play, in a secular democracy, ravaged and damaged, by a quasi-dictator who pretended to be the ‘Messenger of God’.

In Amroha on the fringes of Western UP, for instance, there was no poster or banner of any candidate or party. Not even that of the fake prophet and his fake guarantees, which otherwise stalk the eyeballs across the nook and corner of the entire nation. Instead, in this scorching heat, there was a listless, unstated underpinning, like a sad, static, stasis, waiting to unfold its own, timeless, testimony. So, what was that testimony?

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In many towns and cities of UP, in its vast rural landscape, trapped in an arid and fierce heat wave, this was the same unstated and timeless testimony, simmering in its inner lanes. A deceptive narrative — unknown to the eye.

It was long, prolonged and tiring elections in India. Six phases spread across weeks of campaigning across the vast landscape of a country which still celebrates the precious, textbook memories of ‘Unity in Diversity’. That this thread of collective sharing of a pluralist rainbow in its vibrant and pulsating kaleidoscopic colours was painted with vicious hate politics, destroyed the essential soul of this ancient civilization.

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That this kind of politics did not, and could not succeed, is also the essential story which has reasserted itself, yet again, like a life-affirming resurrection of hope and resilience.

The people of India have voted. It was clearly a ‘People versus Repressive State Apparatus’ phenomena. The people of India voted, and voted out, decisively, the one-dimensional and arrogant managers of this perverse politics, and the warped dreamers of a ‘Hindu rashtra’  — of ‘one culture, one religion, one nation’. The people of India have voted against a prime minister, wallowing in the daily narcissism of photo-shopped self-love, with a mythical camera chasing him on earth, in the remote mountains, next to a pristine sea, and ‘under water’.

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He spewed hate in Banswara, Rajasthan. He attacked legitimate Indian citizens, branding them as ‘infiltrators’ — who produce more children. His language was inevitably and almost always uncouth – unbecoming of any head of state in any part of the world. He called the main leader of the Opposition – ‘Shehzaade’ – again implying an attack on Muslims.

India, after all, is not a Mughal monarchy. India is a pluralist, secular, socialist democracy, where the Constitution is the most sacred text of governance and everyday political conduct. India is not, and will never be, a totalitarian, Neo-Nazi, ‘Hindu rashtra’.

Hence, the sinister project of Hindu-Muslim polarization just did not work. Nor did the five ‘Ms’: mutton, machli, Mughals, mangalsutra and Muslims. The grandiose Ram temple ‘pran pratishta’ in an ‘incomplete’ structure, held as inauspicious among Hindus, with Sita and Lakshman missing, also did not work. The language of hate was rejected by the people of India.

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Among other crucial constituencies, his party lost in Banswara, Rajasthan. In Banswara, he made the first hate speech. In Ayodhya, he became a messenger of God, literally, presiding over the religious ceremony. His party lost Ayodhya – and that too to a Dalit candidate from the INDIA bloc.

There is an infamous poster, conceptualized by his cash-rich publicity machinery, which depicts Narendra Modi, as a tall leader, leading a dwarfed Ram, into the Ram temple. There is no doubt that the people of Ayodhya did not like this humiliation of their revered ‘Maryada Pushottam’. And they have proved that he is neither God, nor prophet. That he is as ‘biological’ as every other human being on earth, who has arrived to leave finally, one day.

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The prime minister has not addressed even one press conference in the last ten years. Even Donald Trump, lampooned by the mainline media in America, would routinely hold free and frank press conferences in the White House at Washington DC. Modi has no Press Advisor in the PMO, unlike all other prime ministers in the past.

And, yet, he loves talking to stooge journalists, in a stage-managed show, with questions apparently designed a priori, and with answers, seeking and getting a tacit silence, or, slow applause. Not one critical question can be asked. Thereby, he did a series of staged interviews with his favourite media outfits, to showcase his great personality and intellectual prowess, ‘live’ or otherwise, in a last-bid attempt to turn the mood of the masses. He failed.

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Then, he unleashed his first prophet pollster and election strategist, with his numbers and predictions: Prashant Kishore. He was, after all, one of his key strategists who manufactured him as a political brand. Since then, ‘PK’ has tried his hand with other politicians – reportedly, mainly, for huge cash as reward for his share of original data-crunching, and as a bonus, a possibly ambitious political position high up in the party hierarchy.

Consequently, he was, thereby, justifiably, rejected by all concerned: Nitish Kumar, Mamata Banerjee, Rahul Gandhi. Hence, as a last resort, discredited and demoralized, he unleashed his pre-poll propaganda – that Modi will cross ‘400 paar’.

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Not only PK. There were others who joined the race to spread this Goebbelsian propaganda  of ‘400 paar’ with a pathetically poor sample survey, and with clear evidence to the contrary staring them from the ground. Being a stooge, an opportunist, and a loyalist, often does not pay. Inevitably, therefore, their exit polls proved nothing but drum-beating for a party which had already lost the polls in the first instance. Modi himself trailed all the way in Varanasi, and just managed to scrape through.

No other prime minister has won with such a low margin in the history of India. And, on top of it, he had claimed to score a victory with a huge, 10 lakh margin. He could just about manage 1.5 lakh plus. His opponent, Ajay Rai of the Congress, scored 4.5 lakh votes.

Crucially, one of the exit pollsters, with inflated numbers for the BJP, otherwise respected for his correct predictions in the past, openly cried on a television channel. And PK, to give him credit, accepted his mistake.

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Besides, if the first two phases had not been allegedly rigged, the result would have been different. The Election Commission of India seemed to be operating as a ‘B Team’ of the BJP. Repeated complaints against hate speeches by Modi and other BJP leaders were greeted with eyes-open-wide-shut. So shut that the openly polarizing speech at Banswara was totally ignored. Instead, the final data of votes polled in the first two phases were reportedly fudged.

So how come the data reported at the end of polling changed over the days, and one crore more votes were shown as polled? So where did all these votes come from?

Political observers believe that this one crore plus votes went to the BJP kitty. Or else, the BJP would never be able to cross the 190 plus mark. Even the Satta Bazaar predicted similar figures.

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It was due to the relentless pressure created by the civil society groups, eminent citizens and the opposition parties, that the next four phases went as smoothly as they could be, and the data at the end of the day, was released on time. The case went to the Supreme Court, and though the apex court did not want to interfere in the status quo, the pressure was on.

All eyes in India were on the EC. Most did not trust it one bit. And it was a common refrain on the streets, from the vegetable vendor to the migrant worker, from the housewife to the working woman – that, if Modi wins, it will only be because of organized rigging by the EC.

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Hence, both, the regime in Delhi, and the EC, knew very well that rigging could lead to mass unrest in many parts of India, including in Delhi, and in the neighbourhood. The farmers have been up in arms since long, and the results have proved that – the BJP lost out totally or partially in Punjab, Haryana, Western UP and Rajasthan.

In the final analysis, nothing worked for Modi. He and his party have decisively lost the mandate to the vigilant and aware people of India. Ideally, if he had an iota of self-respect, at 74, he should have retired from politics, and awaited the process of justice – which must arrive one day – come what may. Instead, he is clinging on to power – at any cost.

This too won’t work. Surviving on a fledgling and weak coalition, with totally unreliable allies, this government has been crippled from day one. The BJP might be imploding in the days to come. Modi’s apocalypse now has already begun. The answer is, indeed, blowin’ in the wind.

Curated and Compiled by Humra Kidwai

First Published in

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Amit Sengupta

Amit Sengupta

Amit Sengupta is an independent journalist, academic, and writer. He has worked across the mainstream Indian media in national English dailies and magazines as a senior editor for more than three decades. He has been Associate Professor, English Journalism, IIMC, Delhi, Visiting Faculty, MCRC, Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi, and Dean, NISCORT Media College, NCR, Delhi. He was a Fellow at Wellesley College, Boston, in 2016. He lectures across India and on campuses, dies Creative Writing Workshops, and writes for national and international media outfits. He has reported from the ground in India and abroad for many years. 

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