Yes, it’s time to jive to Jai Ho. The big story of the day, apart from what I had for lunch, is that the Congress has swept the country, Singh is King and Sonia is our soniya.
As usual, the press messed it up, predicting a hung house which never happened. The BJP, while it did not exactly get drubbed, ended up “strongly and decisively” on the losing side. The party, of course, remained quiet for much of the day other than Jaitly’s press conference, where he accepted the “people’s verdict”. It would be interesting to see where this party goes from here—back to virulent identity politics or making a new start as a respectable right-wing party. I suspect it would be the former in spite of Chandan Mitra’s opinion that projecting Modi during the campaign as a future PM was a mistake.
Of course, we all know who did get the drubbing of their lives—the Left, who, it’s obvious, did not get it right this time. A. B. Bardhan cut a sorry figure during his press-conference, even more so when he snapped at a journo who was asking him about the Nuclear Deal. Ironically, it is being said that one of the main reasons for the Congresses performance was, to some extent, the NREGA—a scheme that the Left could claim some credit for.
However, the real story lay not with the three main parties, it lay with three states—Bengal, Bihar and UP.
Bengal, after more than 30 years, did not vote for the Left. Which, to some extent, is just about as shocking as someone telling me that the KKR will win the IPL. While the verdict is no doubt something Bengal was badly in need of, two things need to be considered.
The first is Mamata herself—let’s make this clear, she’s not a person I would want in charge of a traffic intersection much less my home-state. She has already expressed a willingness for the Left Front government in the state to be dismissed by the Centre. Sigh!
Second, is the fact is that while the Left may have been defeated has its ideology been? Mamata, it must be remembered, only won after she took a stand that most would interpret as anti-industrialisation. Having said that, this reading of the verdict might not be entirely correct—the CPI (M), in usual fashion I might add, behaved rather autocratically when gathering the land for industry. It’s all very fine to go on about being pro-industry sitting in Calcutta but it’s quite another to actually suffer for it by having your land taken away from you forcefully. Maybe all the people did was to voice their anger at being taken for granted.
The result in Bihar, on the other hand, was unequivocally positive. Why anyone, other than the Yadav family, would not support Nitish sweeping in Bihar is beyond me. The Bihar verdict, it might be said, represents a vote for politics based on development rather than ossified identities of caste and religion.
Bihar’s neighbouring state of UP, to some extent, mirrors the former’s verdict. Incredibly, the Congress is the second largest party in the state. The verdict also does cut Mayawati down to size a bit, although till further details emerge about the voting patterns, it would be premature to comment on what this represents. Of course, the UP verdict does hugely boost Rahul’s image within the party and vindicates his stand of going it alone. And while Mr. Singh graciously said that he wanted Rahul to be a part of his cabinet, it’s not like Rahul would need his permission.
All in all, it’s been quite day and quite a verdict.
And while from Monday onwards we’ll all get back to cribbing about our state—how the roads just aren’t there; the hungry and the destitute littering our great cities and the monsters who are killing their own daughters—at least for today, I think, we can all feel just a bit proud of something that quite a few countries would give an arm and a leg to achieve—our democracy.