In many ways, this has been a watershed election. In our country, there is a belief that with many people being illiterate and several not well-versed with governance-related issues, people get carried away by emotions when they vote. That is how the Indian democracy is being perceived by democracy watchers world over.
However, this election I believe underscores that point, just like the 1977 elections. It shows that the rustic wisdom that goes with the electorate is far superior than the arithmetical calculations that political pundits indulge in.
In a way, this election shows the support of people for what the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) calls the politics of development and performance. People have risen above caste, community, regional aspirations and similar identity-related issues. The BJP in general and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in particular are conscious of the fact that identity plays a key role.
However, aspirational India seeks development as a part of its identity. The India of 2019 does not want to be seen as a country of “so many becharas". We don’t want to be obliged to anybody and we don’t want to be looked at with pity. People are self-conscious, confident and know what they want.
So for this new India, which is essentially an aspirational India, to give a resounding mandate to Modi was the least surprising on the one hand while on the other, an eye-opener to those who wanted to measure political development with an old and outdated yardstick. Development has become a part of our identity.
There was also a lot of talk about nationalism during this election. Many allegations and observations were made about the BJP and its campaign. However, I would say that in this discourse, which the Prime Minister has dealt with at length, has produced a new product which I would describe as “development nationalism".
People often say this is the impact of the Modi magic. I would humbly say that this is not about magic but about perseverance, painstaking efforts to ensure that development reaches the last mile and the kind of resoluteness with which the Prime Minister has worked without a single holiday for the last five years.
In a way, this verdict is a stamp of approval on all that he has done. It is not only a renowned mandate but also one that is qualitatively superior as many newer groups supported us and we covered many new areas that were not trodden by the BJP before. This is a standing ovation by the people to Modi.
If we consider world democracies, right at the beginning of this decade, turbulent times were witnessed by several democracies such as the countries that made up the former Soviet Union. Countries such as Georgia experimented with democratic reforms but the Georgian prime minister too was defeated after one term. A similar thing happened in Brazil and after the Arab Spring.
Almost at the same time, we had seen the campaign by (now Delhi chief minister) Arvind Kejriwal, Anna Hazare, and Baba Ramdev. Most of those people talked about new politics but that did not get realised.
People gave a resounding mandate to Modi but, unlike his counterparts in Brazil or Georgia, the prime minister has walked the talk and risen to the expectations of the people. He has kept the fire of aspirations that he rekindled in the minds of the countrymen burning and ensured that the mandate is renewed without any doubt. This makes this election extremely significant in the electoral history of India.
The prime minister is conscious of the fact that, after all, India has a particular spiritual tradition and distancing yourself from that tradition amounts to distancing yourself from your own people. So, being free from the burden of pseudo-secularism, he unabashedly embraced those traditions.
What we could see was a prime minister relishing participation in Ganga aarti or taking a pilgrimage to Kedarnath and Badrinath and spending one complete night in meditation in a remote cave. People like this because in a way it makes them believe that the prime minister is one among them.
The writer is vice-president of the Bharatiya Janata Party and a Rajya Sabha member.