General Elections 2014 – Day 74

Narendra Modi and LK Advani

Narendra Modi and LK Advani

Barely 24 hours ago, India gave a decisive mandate to Narendra Damodardas Modi. The sheer magnitude and impact of this verdict is yet to sink in on either side of the political divide. The reverberation of “TsuNaMo” is still shaking the edifice of the opponent political parties. It had its first casualty in Bihar today, where Chief Minister Nitish Kumar resigned from his post. The day when Prime Minister elect Narendra Modi embarked on a thanksgiving journey from Delhi to Kashmir, bowing down at the altar of India’s cultural heritage, Manmohan Singh, after 10 long years in office, formally tendered his resignation.

For nearly 10 hours today, fawning TV anchors literally gave commentary of every aspect of Narendra Modi’s activity. Modi, after landing in Delhi, was part of a huge cavalcade which took him to the party headquarters. There, the BJP demonstrated the image of one happy parivaar. Leaders like Murli Manohar Joshi and Sushma Swaraj, who had in past questioned Modi in one way or another, today welcomed him warmly.

But undoubtedly the moment of the day came when Narendra Modi touched the feet of Advani, who hugged him in a warm embrace. Many believe it was the sign of exchange of baton, the guru finally feeling proud of his sishya’s (disciple) achievement. Rajnath Singh said that the BJP MPs will formally meet on Tuesday to anoint Narendra Modi as their next PM. Later in the day, there was to be a meeting of the NDA.

Sources reveal that Modi’s swearing-in ceremony will take place at the forecourts of the Rashtrapati Bhawan. More than 3,000 guests are expected to attend the ceremony; hence, it can’t be done in the Durbar Hall, which normally hosts these kinds of ceremonies. The date of the swearing will be the 20th.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his cabinet formally resigned today. The PM tendered his resignation to the President, Pranab Mukherjee. In his farewell speech to the nation, Singh said that he hopes that India will go from strength to strength. He said that they respect the mandate of the people and wished the new government best of luck.

To perhaps stress upon his personal incorruptibility in a government which was seen as corrupt, Manmohan Singh said that his life is an open book and he has done work to the best of his abilities. In his parting note the genial Sikh struck an emotional note. Referring to himself, Manmohan said that the great nation gave a chance to a child born out of the Partition to occupy the highest position of the land.

The President also hosted a farewell dinner for the Prime Minister and the outgoing cabinet. Meanwhile, the American President Obama called up Manmohan Singh to say that he will miss working with him on a day to day basis. Obama said that he greatly admired and looked up to Manmohan Singh. The Prime Minister, on his part, also wished Obama his best and hoped that they would meet soon.

Narendra Modi’s next stop after Delhi was Varanasi. There first he offered prayers in the Kashi Vishwanath temple and later did aarti in the river Ganga. Modi, in a short speech, pledged to clean up Varanasi and river Ganga in particular, and India in general. He invoked the words of Mahatma Gandhi to drive home the point.

But Modi, being a hardcore politician, couldn’t resist taking a jibe at his opponents. In a reference to the Congress’s dismal numbers which will deny them the post of the Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Modi said that earlier parties used to ally with each other to form the government but now they will do so to form the opposition!

The opposition parties are truly facing a tough time, with virtually existential crisis for some of them. Nitish Kumar resigned today after his party slumped to a shocking figure of two seats. Kumar said that he was resigning on moral grounds but clarified that he was not recommending dissolution of the assembly. He said that any party or alliance could form the government if they wished to.

Although Nitish Kumar tried to take the moral high ground, sources reveal that he did it to stop a split in his party. A large chunk of JDU MLAs is reportedly in close contacts with BJP leaders, ready to jump the ship. Later, Sharad Yadav said that for the sake of secularism they are ready to tie up with the RJD to form the next government. On the other hand, Nitin Gadkari said that Bihar’s “achhe din” has come and the BJP will soon rule the state. The situation in this state post the results is extremely fluid and there is a huge scope for massive realignment in the political forces.

In the Congress party too, some major reshuffle may take place in the next few days. According to sources, already murmurs have started on the way some people close to Rahul Gandhi functioned with scant respect for the views of the workers. Many believe that so many Union Ministers biting the dust only exemplifies the disconnect the government had with the common people. Questions have been also raised about the way party tickets were distributed. In some cases, people left the party and joined the opposition after being given a ticket!

The Congress working committee is scheduled to meet on Monday. Some sources suggest that Rahul and Sonia Gandhi may resign. But even if they want to, it’s unlikely that other leaders will let them do it. The Congress, even after being reduced to 44, can’t imagine an existence without the Gandhi family!

A day after the declaration of results, more clarity is emerging on the composition of the new Lok Sabha. In a Lok Sabha dominated by the BJP, perhaps expectedly, the number of Muslim MPs has fallen to a historic low. Only 22 Muslims have been elected in the 16th Lok Sabha, 7 less than the house elected in 2009. The BJP doesn’t have a single Muslim MP out of the 282. In the midst of “TsuNamo”, the BJP’s Muslim poster boy Shahnawaz Hussain has lost his election. UP, which has nearly 20% Muslim population, has not sent a single minority MP to the parliament. The likes of Mani Shankar Aiyar are already saying that there is a fear of India being swept by majoritarianism. He has even equated this emphatic Modi win to that of Hitler in Germany. Only future will tell whether his fears are valid or not.

On a brighter note, the next Lok Sabha will have the most number of women representatives ever. 62 women MP have been selected, with the BJP leading the way (28) and the TMC in second spot with 11. It is far shy from the 33% representation which political parties have promised for decades, but at least it is a move in the right direction.

Elections have ended, and it is time for governance to start. We are also winding up our election diary. On behalf of me and my co-writers, I thank the readers for closely following the elections with us. It was a pleasure bringing the news to you.