India is now headed in a different direction.
The Elections for the Parliament scheduled for April and May (the world’s biggest elections) could result in a hung Parliament with no single party getting a majority.
The expectations from the urban elite population (the educated and reasonably well-off folks) is that the BJP (BHaratiya Janata Party), the current main opposition Party, would win the elections, and Mr Narendra Modi of the BJP would become the Prime Minister. That expectation is based on weariness of the Congress Party and its failing policies over the years. While the respect for Dr Manmohan Singh, the current Prime Minister, has not gone down significantly, given that he is personally clean from corruption allegations, the widespread feeling is that he did not step in to control the governance of the country in a more effective manner. This mis-governance led to a number of corruption scandals, widening fiscal deficit, an uncontrollable inflation and pains to the common people of the country.
It is widely expected that the BJP would get over 200 seats in the Parliament (which has a strength of 543 seats) and would need 50 to 60 seats from other parties to form a government. The Congress Party is widely expected to lose the elections by a mile – they should consider them lucky if they get more than 100 seats.
Change in the government of the world’s most populous democracy after a full decade brings its own challenges. It will be difficult to meet the expectations of all sections of the population, however, the BJP seems to be preparing a game plan for formulating a government based on progressive economic policies predicated on the successful development of the State of Gujarat under Mr Modi’s governance.
The question which arises in the minds of secular Indians is this – will the BJP head in a Hindu nationalistic direction and spoil the peace of the country ? Will it damage the social fabric of India which has been painstakingly built over the years ? While it may not cater to the whims and fancies of the minority communities like what the Congress Government did, it should be mindful of the careful balance in a multi-cultural and multi-religious society.
We have to wait and see and we cannot dismiss the liberals as useless armchair critiques for sure. They do matter in any society and they cannot and should not be silenced based on economic arguments.
Different direction, for sure !
16th February 2014