The ongoing General Election is not just a test for the political parties and their leaders, but also the voters. The result will show the maturity of the people after over 67 years of democracy. Thus far, the people have voted wisely, even during periods of emotional upheaval, such as after the assassinations of Indira and Rajeev Gandhi. Even though opposition politicians and sections of the intelligentsia present the election of Narendra Modi in 2014 as a con job, in which he supposedly profited from promising ‘acche din’, the fact remains that it was also a response to the corruption of the UPA regime, which was running the economy into the ground. Whatever the allegations made against Prime Minister Modi regarding ‘polarisation’ of the Indian polity, the people will have noted the initiatives he took in the economic and social fields. They are likely to decide on the ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ claims on the basis of personal experience. Individuals may be affected by the powerful caste and communal mobilisation underway, but will also consider the impact the last five years have had on their lives. It is one thing for commentators in the proverbial ‘ac rooms’ to imagine the life of the poor and, quite another, the reality of actually being poor.
Also, except for the first time voters who reached adulthood during the Modi years, they will not have forgotten the UPA years. The focus was on merely passing legislation that created more teats for the populace to suckle on, rather than weaning them away from debilitating dependence on government largesse and subsidies. On the average, lower middle class ‘educated’ youths spent ten precious years trying for rapidly depleting government jobs. These could have been utilised in learning new and appropriate skills in the direction the economy was actually growing.
People forget that from the time of Independence the population of the country has increased nearly four times. Unfortunately, the attitude towards resources and various sectors of the economy remain the same. The obsession of the Congress with ‘Socialism’ did not permit the growth of the manufacturing and infrastructure sectors. The service and IT sectors grew despite the government’s policies because of the transformation in the global economy. In fact, this miserable approach led to coining of the term ‘Hindu rate of growth’. Voters will, thus, have to decide whether they should not be voting for the actual communists, rather than a Congress that pretends to be Left oriented while following the most bizarre, self-serving policies of an entrenched elite. Will the people see through the fog of propaganda and forge a verdict that serves their interests and not of the politicians? Past experience suggests they can and very well might.