By Sushil Kutty
The exit polls were by far not wrong. But lots went wrong for the opposition. One, appears like despite a 45 year record low unemployment, Indian youth, the majority of them, do not want jobs! Despite all the hue and cry, jobs were not an election issue. Why? Could be because there were jobs available that were not among the counted. Maybe self-employment really took off in a big way. Even otherwise, by “jobs” people usually allude to “sarkari” jobs and those seeking government jobs are mostly who already have jobs.
So, if jobs did not matter, what did? It wasn’t national security. Indians are with very little doubt convinced that if push comes to shove, Pakistan does not stand a chance against India. But it mattered to Indians that Pakistan be made aware of that in no uncertain terms. Balakote was that, a bold stroke. The Congress resolve in its manifesto to review AFSPA and resume talks with Pakistan was a big mistake. The young Indian is always at war with young Pakistanis and usually always mocked and belittled by the “macho” Pakistani. Balakote gave the young Indian something to gloat about. And young Indians, a big chunk of them first-time voters, are another story of these elections.
But the story of general election is not Balakote alone even if Narendra Modi made it sound as if Balakote was his only accomplishment. There are several stories to these general elections and one of them is that cutting across castes the young Indian is comfortable living without a caste tag and driving castes underground is largely what the Sangh Parivar wants in its pursuit of the larger goal of building a Hindutva identity. The Modi Government’s ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ fit this strategy perfect. That is also the reason why the SP-BSP gathbandhan could not deliver the sort of results it was expected to. Also, why neither party could fully transfer its votes to the other. Part of the SP and BSP’s respective votes went to Modi.
Another story that marked these elections was the decision of opposition parties to not just attack Narendra Modi on his performance but also lace their attacks with abuses. Everybody – Mayawati to Mamata, Tejasvi Yadav to Sharad Pawar – appeared to take a cue from Congress President Rahul Gandhi, whose “Chowkidar Chor Hai” rang from end to end, but which now it seems spelled the beginning of Rahul’s end. Can Rahul Gandhi shout ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’ ever again? And to the Congress party’s ill-luck, Mani Shankar Aiyar popped out of nowhere and reiterated his ‘neech’ remark over and above Sam Pitroda’s ‘Hua Toh Hua’ rhetoric.
The bigger question is: What happens to Rahul Gandhi now? Will the opposition parties accept him as Leader of the Opposition (LOP) in the Lok Sabha? Rahul Gandhi was trailing Smriti Irani by several thousand votes in Amethi and, basically, Rahul will be regarded as a complete failure despite his Wayanad victory. Come to think of it, it will be a brave Rahul Gandhi, indeed, if he shows his face in the Lok Sabha in case he loses Amethi. There are other opposition leaders who also should find a hole to hide in.
One of them being Chandrababu Naidu who has been completely upended in Andhra Pradesh, losing 0-25 in the Lok Sabha elections and also the assembly elections. He ceases to be Chief Minister and was till the other day in hectic parleys to do a 1996 in 2019, play kingmaker.
And what about Mayawati? The BSP had scored a blank in 2014 but this time has a decent number to show but the lady had all but declared herself Prime Minister May 22! And while on Mayawati, how can we forget Mamata Banerjee? Both the ladies dreamed of becoming Prime Minister and it’s unlikely they ever will become Prime Minister. The 2019 victory is a mandate for Narendra Modi to remain Prime Minister for another five years.
Modi has tweeted ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ after his latest electoral victory but while he has expressed his resolve to take everybody along there are huge swathes of people who look at another five years of Modi rule with fear if not trepidation and it’s not a coincidence that the majority of these are Muslims, but then it also a fact that the BJP has won tens of constituencies where Muslims make a substantial chunk of the electorate. And therein lies the biggest story of these elections: The Hindu consolidation, which is why no jobs and unemployment did not matter in these general elections. (IPA Service)