That Was a Poll That Was

End of a Low Dishonest Decade

As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth. – W H Auden September 1, 1939

Before settling down to compose this piece, I indulged myself in the luxury of a turkey-roast potatoes-peas lunch garnished with HP sauce and accompanied by a glass of Rosé Champagne – nearest possible to saffron – to be followed by almond shuffle and Turkish coffee. After all, don’t forget, my guesstimate – 300 seats for NDA plus/minus 10% – turned to land nearer to the bulls eye than the projections of most professional psephologists and TV know-alls.

A few sips of the sparkling wine and I was reminded of Edward Gibbon’s description of the feast in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire which describes how Attila, the Hun, indulged in a least three toasts for every course. So, like Falstaff in Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor I suggested to myself: “Go fetch me a quart of sack; put a toast in’t.” And all that to toast the three heroes of an epochal event – the resounding triumph of the NDA.

You’ll wonder what did the Bard mean by the above in today’s English. He’s asking for a great deal of wine with, literally, a piece of toast in it. I can hear your disgusted outrage and objections to adding toast to wine. Actually, that was quite a common practice in those days. This is thought to be due to the quality of wine then was vastly inferior to our modern vintages. Thus, placing a piece of toast within a jug was supposed to soak up some of the acidity and improve the flavor. This also was possibly a way of making use of a piece of stale bread, which, supposedly, improved its palatability.

The Republic of India

I raised the glass, first of all, to the Republic of India and the institutions that support its mighty edifice, especially the Election Commission. Look at the list of fourteen free and fair elections we have had since Independence and compare them with the dismally bleak record of all the countries in our neighborhood.

There was indeed no dearth of Cassandra of despair, especially in the West who were deeply pessimistic about the future of the Indian Republic. Remember the dark prognosis of that arch-imperialist, Winston Churchill never short of pompous turn of phrase, who predicted during the House of Commons debate on India Independence Bill:

Power will go to the hands of rascals, rogues, freebooters; all Indian leaders will be of low caliber and men of straw. They will have sweet tongues and silly hearts. They will fight amongst themselves for power and India will be lost in political squabbles. A day would come when even air and water would be taxed in India.

We proved him wrong. There were always experts like Neville Maxwell around assuring at the end of each general election that it was the last. What a staggering shock for them that a county with population of 120 million conducted an election in 2014 which saw 66.38% of the 814-million-strong Indian electorate exercising their franchise, helping the country set an all-time voter turnout record. The 2014 polling percentage in the world’s biggest democratic exercise comfortably surpassed the 1984 turnout of 64% when Rajiv Gandhi became the prime minister after the assassination of Indira Gandhi. BJP’s prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi on Monday wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter, “The biggest joy of 2014 Elections has been the increased turnout. Braving the scorching heat and the rain people turned out in large numbers.”

Don’t forget, dear readers, 551 million voters cast their ballots this year. And this number is more than the combined population of the US, Germany, Canada and the UK.

You’ll also recall a year before Nehru died, the American expert Welles Hangen (later captured and killed in Cambodia while covering the war) published, in 1962, his book After Nehru, Who? He listed eight names. One of them was Lal Bahadur Shastri. Nirad C. Chaudhuri had another worry – after Nehru what? He predicted chaos. Chaudhuri was egregiously wrong. It was democracy after Nehru. Why? Because it had been democracy during the Nehru years.

Hangen, however, was worried that none of the eight names he suggested would fit Nehru’s big shoes. But India’s democracy ensured that any foot could fit the shoe. In the democracy that our Founding Fathers bequeathed and Nehru shaped, men did not matter, institutions did. So 50 years after he died (2014 is his 125th birth anniversary as well), the democracy he honed, has not just survived, but is thriving.

There were, indeed, some trying times for the country in the decade and a half after Nehru – drought, war, economic hardships and the Emergency, ironically imposed by his dear daughter Indira Gandhi. Despite all these, the Indian voters had their say.

Nehru was a creature of his times, and his solutions to the country’s problems have to be seen in the context of those times. We owe a lot of what we enjoy today to the foundations laid down by Nehru and his collaborators. A strong democratic tradition, secularism, self-reliance, a solid foundation of industry, the advancements made in the field of science and technology, and the prestige that India enjoys on the world stage are what we can today call Nehru’s legacy.

“My legacy to India is hopefully 400 million people capable of governing themselves,” he once said. It certainly lives on.

The Common Voter

My second toast was for the common Indian voter who lived up to the faith of the Founding Fathers of the Constitution who empowered him with adult franchise. Ultimately, it is this man who, in all his rustic wisdom, decided to throw out lock stock and barrel the notorious scam-ridden rulers of the last “low dishonest decade” who plundered the national treasury with impunity. It is he who lent his unflagging support to this historic campaign that rowed NDA to power.

On the day the Constitution of India was adopted, Dr Rajendra Prasad who had had presided over the deliberations of the Constituent Assembly, delivered a valedictory address. In all humility, permeated with profound wisdom, he submitted to the House:

Some people have doubted the wisdom of adult franchise. Personally, although I look upon it as an experiment the result of which no one will be able to forecast today, I am not dismayed by it. I am a man of the village and although I have had to live in cities for a pretty long time, on account of my work, my roots are still there. I, therefore, know the village people who will constitute the bulk of this vast electorate. In my opinion, our people possess intelligence and commonsense. They also have a culture which the sophisticated people of today may not appreciate, but which is solid. They are not literate and do not possess the mechanical skill of reading and writing. But, I have no doubt in my mind that they are able to take measure of their own interest and also of the interests of the country at large if things are explained to them. In fact, in some respects, I consider them to be even more intelligent than many a worker in a factory, who loses his individuality and becomes more or less a part of the machine which he has to work. I have, therefore, no doubt in my mind that if things are explained to them, they will not only be able to pick up the technique of election, but will be able to cast their votes in an intelligent manner and I have, therefore, no misgivings about the future, on their account. I cannot say the same thing about the other people who may try to influence them by slogans and by placing before them beautiful pictures of impracticable programmes. Nevertheless, I think their sturdy commonsense will enable them to see things in the right perspective.

Hasn’t the voter of India – lettered and unlettered – lived up to the faith of the Founding Fathers? The common man of this county not only has sturdy common sense but a lot of patience and perseverance. He’s also very trusting.

Unfortunately, however, his trust in the rulers of the day has often been belied. But that hasn’t robbed him of his faith in the democratic system of governance enshrined in the Constitution. When one set of gods failed him, he turned to another. He voted for Indira Gandhi to give the country strong, stable government and remove poverty which she promised to. When she, instead, clamped down the Emergency to save her gaddi, he ignominiously threw her out when it came to his turn to decide. He was equally decisive to throw out a squabbling leadership of Janata Party in 1979. This time he has trusted the BJP which has won on its own a working majority of 282 seats and a very comfortable total of 336 with its NDA Partners. The new Government won’t have to lean on clutches of regional players by diluting its well thought out policies and programs. And come to think of it, from two seats in 1984 to 282 in 2014 for a party of political untouchables commonly maligned as Hindu nationalists, is no mean achievement by any stretch of the imagination.

And while Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party got the biggest mandate for a single-party since 1984, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi have led their party to its worst and most humiliating defeat in its history. Political commentators have made a mention of the huge margin of victory of Rajiv Gandhi in 1984. Let’s not forget it was, all said, the nation’s consolation to a son whose mother was gunned down by her own guards.

The BJP-led NDA’s thumping success augurs well for the country. It means we are going to have after years a stable government where the allies won’t be able to call the shots and tie the central government down, hand and foot as Manmohan Singh’s was. (Is that the reason that the BSE Sensex is heading for the moon?)


My third and last toast was to a much-maligned hero of the 2014 electoral tsunami. He will indeed have a permanent place in our history who stood up straight with head high to accomplish the task he was entrusted despite malicious taunts and devious machinations of his detractors.

The self-declared leftists and so-called intellectuals spared no invective to malign the man. Instead of engaging him in an issue-based meaningful debate, they directed at him a torrent of abuse. On the bidding of the threatened Establishment, William Dalrymple called him in a longish dispatch on the 2014 elections in India to the 12 May, 2014 issue of New Statesman, a neo-Fascist with blood on his hands. In the same journal – once very sympathetic towards India: remember Kingsley Martin? – Mehdi Hasan went to the audacious length of comparing Modi to the infamous Serbian politician Slobodan Miloševic, also the President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from 1997 to 2000.

At home, Congress leader Manishankar Aiyar, the epitome of sycophancy, will live the rest of his life to regret the day he mocked Narendra Modi’s Prime Ministerial ambitions. “I promise you in 21st Century Narendra Modi will never become the Prime Minister of the country. ... But if he wants to distribute tea here, we will find a place for him,” Aiyar prophesied at the venue of the AICC meeting. Now he would be literally eating his words. Otherwise literate – after all he went to St. Stephen’s – he’ll soon discover the agony of swallowing one’s words when next week Modi is administered the oath of office as the Prime Minister of India. The good old adage has it “Lord, make my words as sweet as honey ... for tomorrow I may have to eat them.”

But the same much-pilloried man has led the BJP to a spectacularly decisive victory from Ladakh in the north to Kanyakumari in the south. It is a welcome mandate for political stability in a fractured polity – a vote for economic development; it is a resounding endorsement of the Modi maxim – minimum Government, maximum governance.

It is, above all, a positive vote for change, for demolishing the stagnant status quo, for putting an end to endemic corruption that has been viciously gnawing at our system and devouring it like malignant cancer. It is a mandate by Young India for a New India, which has chosen to shed a socio-economic order mired in outlandish social welfare programs doling out a pittance designed, primarily, to perpetuate poverty and thereby a supposedly benevolent political regime. It is a resounding vote for empowerment.

Though it has not received as yet the attention of political pundits, the Modi landslide victory is a massive vote against what came to be known as the era of coalition politics. It is an end of the inglorious Governments cobbled together with the help of manipulating political parties with disparate ideologies – even if you care to call them so. Experience has shown us that ‘coalition dharma’ boils down to shutting your eyes to blatant thievery by coalition partners than accommodation of regional aspirations.

We have been witnesses to another highly undesirable attribute of ‘coalition dharma’. The party leading a coalition often resorts to covering up its inadequacies and failures by passing the buck to its partners. Manmohan Singh’s abysmal failure, for instance, to assert his authority and exercise his power was always explained away by compulsions of coalition. People were sick of these explanations. Hence, their clear-headed decision to give an unambiguous mandate to the BJP so that it could be held fully and unequivocally accountable. That the BJP on its own has been able to secure a majority in the Lok Sabha is indicative of this view. The tally of the NDA gives the BJP a comfortable margin. As Prime Minister, Narendra Modi will have to own up to his Government’s actions; unlike his predecessor, he can’t point a finger at the BJP’s allies. This allows him the freedom to decide and act decisively, but he alone would be responsible, and accountable, for both his Government’s decisions and deeds.

If Modi succeeds in delivering good governance and largely fulfilling his agenda of economic development, then future elections are more than likely to result in similar verdicts. Coalition politics may have served to further the interests of petty politicians all over the country, but the people are tired of this sickening chicanery.

The BJP’s tally is no doubt stunning. But perhaps more stunning is the Congress’s humiliating defeat. This is the worst ever electoral performance of the party – far worse than the defeat that visited Indira Gandhi in 1977. Friday, May 16 will forever be remembered in our history as a day of liberation from a incorrigibly corrupt, politically bankrupt and organizationally decrepit political Party which should go for liquidation lest it should heap more ignominy on its head. Modi had pleaded with the people of India to have a Congress Mukt Bharat. They have resoundingly endorsed it.

So, my dear readers, join me once again to celebrate the third and the last toast to celebrate a great day in our history. To the health and long life of Narendra Damodardas Modi, the hero of the 2014 election.

Continued to “Games Statisticians Play With Figures” 


More by :  H.N. Bali

Top | Analysis

Views: 3327      Comments: 8

Comment It is a good write. Modi is a practical man and has see through bad times and has made Gujarat prosperous. De shall do that for India, too. His call for 'Govt, of the poor, by the poor and for the poor' is historic.
India is not for a couple of people who remained mute as in "Emperor's new clothes' rill the poor and illiterate Indian voters told the truth.

Kumarendra Mallick
22-May-2014 10:53 AM

Comment I'm grateful for your response, drgopalsingh, and of course to Mr Bali for enabling it. There is, nevertheless, a case for saying that in countries that have never built an Empire, India, for one, the downside has been a perception of its people as a racially defined entity, as opposed to the notion of citizenship in countries like Britain that had an empire. New countries like the US, Canada and Australia, though ex-colonies, are peopled by a variety of immigrant people, initially white settlers who suppressed the native population in the imperial manner, but whose citizenship as Americans or Australians since has been increasingly not based on race but on democratic rights. As we are aware, in these countries, as in western democracies generally, black and white, and all the shades between, are equal in citizenship.

Rajiv Gandhi was obviously influenced by the modern scene for him to take an Italian wife - he was breaking the mould of Indian nationalism as defined by race, explicitly so in progeny of mixed-race considered Indian by birth. This would be counter to the soil based perception of Indian nationalism, particularly as it offered a spectre of entry of white races into India, as Rajiv saw as the step to modernisation of Indian democracy - or he could be thus perceived. Put this idea into each mind of millions of soil-based nationals in India and we have a scenario as I depicted it in my comment. I will add that Indians who now live abroad have a sympathetic ideal to that Rajiv cherished of democracy in the modern world, where citizenship is defined by rights, often explicitly human rights, where race, even mixed race, is, ideally, of no consequence.

21-May-2014 21:52 PM

Comment Mr. rdashby,

You may be partly right in your assessment of the reason for the defeat of UPA and the Gandhis.

However, largely I disagree with you. Remember, the same Gandhi duo were trusted and voted in power for two successive elections. The Indian electorate, though a significant portion not as educated and informed as those in the west, are much more intelligent than that. They were fed up with the corrupt and inept UPA government and saw an opportunity for better governance and economic growth with Mr. Modi. They rejected the traditional caste and religion based considerations to vote for BJP (actually Mr. Modi). The caste, religion and other considerations come into play only when real (perceived or otherwise) alternatives are not there. The complete wipeout of BSP in U.P. where 20% of population is in "Dalit" category and near wipeout of SP that had solid support of OBC and Muslims, is a clear indicator of this.

Back in February and March I spent time talking to villagers in eastern U.P. They had made up their mind to vote for Mr. Modi well before any BJP candidates were announced in their constituencies. The Indian electorate are surprisingly resilient and understand what is in their best interest. In spite of all its flaws and need for reforms, the Indian democracy is remarkably effective.

20-May-2014 15:00 PM

Comment May I also recall few critical points in recent years - that were catalysts to the outcome of Loksabha 2014 elections...

It all started around late 2010 and year 2011 was full of storms.

CWG scam spread in media - mid 2010, it was probably perceived as small matter by Congress politicians, believing like other scams this would be buried as well.

2G scam:

The CAG Mr. Vinod Rai did not compromise in unearthing the scam and put it out in open. Soon it became widely discussed topic in media. Mr. Subramaniam Swami and others played a crucial role in getting the case strength in SC. Finally SC cancelled 2G licenses, it was blow to Telecom companies (who bribed to get licenses). This case definitely made a dent to the image of Congress nation wide. DMK demolished in TN state elections.

Further, Congress took first suicidal step by handing over 2G investigation monitoring to SC.

The new Chief Justice in Supreme Court of India:

Justice Kapadia, made SC take strong decisions without bending to political super powers. It made the CBI report progress of 2G investigation every 15 days, which made CBI unearth more and more evidences, many of them leaked to public media.

The SC was reactivated, the courageous actions by Chief Justice (probably) inspired the SC judges. SC took many strong decisions, some of them will prove to be historic in future, including barring politicians convicted in crime and sentenced for 2 years of more, which destroyed Mr. Lalu Yadav's political future.

The SC took landmark decision in July 2011, that ordered re-formation of SIT to investigate black money abroad and that would report to SC appointed retired judges as chairman and vice chairman of the SIT. Although, the order was not obeyed, instead the Congress govt filed appeal against the order, the appeal was heard by 2 SC judges, one of them gave judgment in favor and the other against the appeal. In such a case, as per procedures, the matter moved to Chief justice, a few months later the judge who accepted the appeal was appointed as Chief justice, the same case pending i front of him - I don’t have latest updates, as the whole case was censored from media till date. All I wrote in this para is based on various articles in

Meanwhile, the Congress kept taking further suicidal steps. It made Rahul the VP of Congress party - I was happy the day it was announced, it was in favor to the nation, because Rahul would ensure that the Congress performs worse in electons, indeed it happened, first in state elections and then now in Loksabha elections.

Contribution by Swami Ramdev and Anna Hazare

Swami Ramdev had decided to campaign against corruption and the current Congress govt, he was travelling all over India from state to state in yer 2010, called "Swabhiman yatra", this was censored from media too. But, perhaps (as I guess) it worried the Congress a lot. Ramdev as moving all over the India, exposing the evil deeds to the government, awakening masses. This could prove disastrous to the UPA.

The Congress was certainly panicky with the mass influence Ramdev was making in rural India, while urban India was largely unaware of the developments because his messages were censored from media.

Ramdev would prove to be lethal if not controlled immediately, he would soon call for peaceful ‘dharna’ or ‘hunger strike’ in the capital after he completes all India tour. Controlling him was a need for Congress.

It is my guess, that this is why the Congress played another trick. Anna Hazare started fasting in Jantar Mantar, first 3 days saw participation of only a few hundred people, but rather than censoring it, this movement was probably sponsored to be widely publicized. Anna Hazare soon became an icon, from where Kejariwal would emerge as potential ‘political masiha’. Meanwhile, media started comparing Anna Hazare and Ramdev, showcasing Ramdev as preparing to enter politics.

This was another suicidal step by Congress. The media coverage of Anna Hazare movement kindled hope and desire among masses against corruption, this time it was urban India which impacted more. I saw photos of Anna Supporters even from USA !

Just two months later on June 4th, 2011, Ramdev started ‘anshan’ to push govt to declare black money abroad as illegal and property of govt of India. The, Congress politicians, who already had started a counter measure by uplifting Anna in media played all dirty tricks to ensure Ramdev’s character assassination take place.

Later at end of 2011, when both performed second and third iterations of their Anshan, Congress govt had to use force to stop those demonstrations. All this tarnished image of Congress further. The nation now started looking for alternatives. BJP, in absence of strong and decisive leadership was unable to capture opportunity. Congress sponsored media kept on spreading message that BJP was not an alternative as it was as corrupt as Congress. It worked to prevent further damage for another one year.

Meanwhile, Ramdev continued his work with masses, other saffron peers joined as well, there was a sense of do and die now.

The elevation and subsequent betrayal by Kejariwal:
Perhaps, the congress thought they could balance out anti corruption wave by placing Kejariwal against Modi, believing that Mr. Kejariwal would consume Modi’s vote, thus helping Congress & UPA by securing minimum seats to form govt. However, Mr. Kejariwal has made very tall promises, he had o act to show commitment, instead he chose or probably orders by Congress Super powers to step down. This tarnished image of Kejwariwal’s party. But the most important fact was that the calculation of Congress power center that Kejwariwal would eat up Modi’s vote was totally wrong. While personally talking to people, I observed that it was the Congress supporters (in name of secularism) that moved to support Kejwariwal, while Modi’s supporters remained intact. Which means, the Kejariwal would eat up already diminishing Congress votes.

Meanwhile, Congress continued to take suicidal steps, next it was decision to split Andhra Pradesh. We all know the results. It spread venom in public through a few mouth pieces like Mr. Digvijay Singh and Manishankar Aiyar. People tell me that despite incumbency factors and corruption in BJP’s rule in Madhya Pradesh, the Congress lost in 2013 state elections in Madhya Pradesh because of foul mouth of Mr. Digvijay Singh.

It was like the divine force working from within Congress and outside to pull this nation out of the misrule of ultra corrupt, dishonest and anti-nation Congress politicians.

Rest is history…

Had Mr. Vinod Rai, Mr. Subramaniam Swami, Justice Kapadia, Swami Ramdev and Anna Hazare did not act as they did, probably we would not have seen the kind of Loksabha election results we have now.

Future is awaiting us to see better times.

Dinesh Kumar Bohre
20-May-2014 08:54 AM

Comment Dr. Gopal Singh,

Indeed, it will be prooven soon as you said:

"One thing is for sure - from where we (the Nation) have been, we have no place to go but upwards."

Dinesh Kumar Bohre
20-May-2014 07:26 AM

Comment Both your mastery of the English language and of its colonial-style culture - in England these days the celebratory meal would as likely consist of Chicken Tikka Masala with a glass of Cobra lager - fulfil the British ideal in latter colonial times of the civilised Indian. It proves British culture in India was never contested on principle - only the British had to be removed.

This racial consciousness of India for Indians has proved the downfall of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty in the ruling Congress party - because an Italian entered. Rajiv was racially an Indian, though his wife was not; and though he was assassinated, in what appeared to be a Kennedy-style family curse, she could never be. Assassination is an inverted form of respect in that it identifies the victim as part of the national racial identity. Sonia could be allowed to continue to live in a make-believe world of her acceptance. Rahul is Eurasian, in Indian eyes unprecedented as a contender for power in government, however much he may be convinced he is 100% Indian by birth, and comes over as that to the whole world looking in. He too could never be assassinated as he is inoculated with racial impurity. No, he would just be gracefully voted out, and with him the now racially tainted Gandhi dynasty.

Enter Narendra Modi, delight of the Indian masses, a thoroughbred and dyed-in-the-wool Hindu. Here is fulfilment in pure Indian leadership, and, in the majority eyes of India, a return to sanity.

19-May-2014 09:51 AM

Comment Mr. Bali, You are right. In columns I had predicted that NDA will
reach the figure of 353 . I will prove right, wait for time when Narendra Modi
takes oath. There will many smaller parties that will align with NDA. Such things do happen in politics of democracy.

pranlal sheth
19-May-2014 04:40 AM

Comment Congratulations for an article well written.

In addition to your prowess in world political history, politics in India, literature and many other fields, your competence in culinary and particularly connoisseurship endeavors is impressive. Now I know the secret of your successful prognostication of the 2014 election results. It has to be the turkey roast accompanied by Rose Champagne. I am not sure how forthcoming you were in stating it was only one glass of Champagne. It is barely enough to fire up your prognostic neurons.

I whole heartedly agree on each of the three toasts you proposed and raise my glass of red wine to join you.

I would propose a fourth toast as well. It is for a person who mostly works in the background. That would be for BJP President Raj Nath Singh. He is not as articulate and charismatic as Mr. Modi, but he is a visionary and works tirelessly to achieve the goals. Best thing BJP ever did was to replace Nitin Gadkari with Raj Nath Singh. This was a time period when BJP senior leadership was plagued with infighting and not much support was being offered to project Modi as the PM candidate. Nobody was taking BJP/NDA as a serious threat to INC/UPA. Raj Nath Singh stuck his neck out and supported Modi throughout the process. The effect of this has been far reaching.

The election results are not reflective of electorate’s abiding faith in BJP. Instead they reflect a complete faith in the leadership of Modi. It was as you aptly termed a Tsu-NaMo. I can say that simply by watching the results in eastern U.P. where BJP was essentially extinct and SP/BSP had strangle hold on the political landscape. The BJP candidates fielded in these constituencies were virtually unknowns but they won with overwhelming margins defeating there well known rivals. The electorate simply voted to bring Modi to power. This is an incredible faith in one person. The expectations from Mr. Modi are taller than Mount Everest.

One thing is for sure - from where we (the Nation) have been, we have no place to go but upwards. I join you and countless others to offer congratulations and best wishes to Mr. Modi.

18-May-2014 18:48 PM

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