– A Preview of 2019
In 2014, it was on the plank of ‘high hope’ that Narendra Modi, with self-belief, sense of purpose and Herculean effort, had navigated his party to power through the stagnant Indian electoral waters. This extraordinary achievement, so to say, was unbelievable in the Indian electoral context that’s traditionally devoid of any semblance of nationalistic fervor for the callous politicians having nursed the majority community on divisive caste lines and groomed the minorities on unifying religious grounds for narrow electoral gains, any sense of nationalism failed to take roots in India’s pre-partitioned social soil. What’s worse the vote-bank politics of post-independent India fomented an Islamist mind-set amongst the formidable Muslim minority that turned it against Modi’s nationalist party for long. However, with his personal charisma and forceful oratory, he could alter the electoral psychology of the Hindu majority to get on to the Delhi gaddi to usher in systemic changes not only to address India’s social plight but also to uplift the Hindu self-worth, at a low for over thousand years.
When Modi would seek reelection, circa 2019, what could be the electoral psychology in hustings then?
No denying, a majority of the Hindus gloat over the fact that, at long last, their ‘ruler’ does not shy away from exhibiting his Hindu religious inclinations in public that is besides wearing his patriotic nationalism on his sleeves. But it’s no guarantor that his re-election plank would sail through the hustings as the Hindu nationalistic currents, besides being weak, are notoriously transient for they are afflicted by undercurrents of caste affiliations. It takes a while for Modi to forge the disparate castes in a unitary Hindu mould but that’s in the realms of the future, but what about the year after?
Well, he has to contend with the religious apathy of the majority of the Muslim and the Christian voters nurse towards him for the very reason that made him endearing to the majority of the Hindus. That an ‘overtly’ Hindu should lord over the land, lorded by their forefathers, fails to jell with their sense of history, and to avert repetition, they could be queueing up at the polling booths to see Modi’s back. And if you add up the closet Christians too to the overbearing Musalmans, maybe sans some of their womenfolk, thanks to his triple talaq stance, at some quarter of the electorate, they would be in no mean numbers.
Augmenting the minorities’ ant-Modi votes would be the loose, but large, regional forces, the die-hard, though shrunk, Congress loyalists, the ‘secular’ ant-sangh parivar gang and the congenital Modi-maniacs, roughly accounting for another quarter of the electorate. But the saving grace for Modi would be there are too many in the electoral arena to share the spoils of his inimical half of India’s voters that is notwithstanding the tactical voting by the minorities to keep him out.
However, those taking up cudgels on Modi’s behalf in his electoral battle would include the nation’s teeming youth, enthused like never before by any leader, the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty haters and the rare breed of Hindu nationalists, all in all, adding up to, maybe, half of all Hindu voters. And that’s just one fourth of India’s total voters!
It is thus, the electoral psychology of the other half of the Hindu voters that will decide Modi’s political fate in 2019 and determine India’s future course as a nation state thereafter. No denying, with his empathy for the poor and the foresight to improve their lot, he made friends and influenced people from these hapless folds. Enjoying the ease of living, for the first time that is, courtesy the gas cylinders and other goodies, the grateful lot backed him at the hustings in state after state, but as human gratitude is a fickle phenomenon, come 2019, the good will may as well evaporate. What is worse, having been spoiled by the largesse, they may even feel dissatisfied for what they are deprived off, thereby taking to the inimical though habitual caste routes.
And this is just one of the many psychological potholes that Modi has to contend with in the 2019 electoral path.
In 2014, Modi, so to say, had the entire Indian middleclass under his spell for they were enthused by his vows to bring the corrupt to book. Who won’t love to see the high and mighty of the dark alleys languishing in the dark cells? But instead of affording them a vicarious pleasure of seeing their corrupt netas in the country’s jails, Modi has left those suffocating in air of despondency as the dirty mighty are having it easy that too even as the ‘corrupt’ common men and women are made to suffer, first on account of demonetization and then owing to the GST, to their eternal hurt. What a let-down to be handed over the rough end of the anti-corruption stick. It is anybody’s guess that these would love the return of the UPA’s corrupt times for their self aggrandizement. Even some of the ‘clean’ middleclass-wallahs, swallowing media’s Goebbelsian lie on demonetization, have turned into inveterate Modi-critics, and who knows, the media, with concocted popularity ratings, may be leading Modi on the garden path.
Come 2019, if the much publicized corrupt deeds of Sonia, Rahul, Vadra, Jagan, Lalu, Chidambaram et al won’t make it to the court rooms at the least and instead gather dust in the investigating offices, Modi may as well kiss goodbye to the bulk of the middleclass voters for they are bound to feel cheated by his duplicity in the fight against ‘real’ corruption. After all, five years is a long period to surmount the odds even in our snail paced judicial process that is if Modi were true to his word, so goes the grapevine. Yet, they won’t vote for the corrupt Congress etc., in a volte face, but would surely stay away from the polling booths, leaving Modi to fend for himself. And the shortfall in the vote share, if it won’t cause his ouster, would certainly diminish his prime ministerial stature, setting the opposition in motion.
But what if, Sonia and her sinister ilk are made to sweat in the court halls or cool their heels in jail cells, won’t that alter the electoral psychology of the country, electrifying the political atmosphere for Modi’s thumping victory at the hustings.
Let’s wait and see what’s in store for Modi’s New India.