As India remained glued to the television, while news of a thumping Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) victory in the recently concluded general election spread like wildfire, it seemed that I was witnessing the demise of the very idea of India — an idea that encompasses pluralism, liberal values and above all a spirit of brotherhood.
This very nature and essence of India has attracted millions of patriots in the sacred struggle of achieving the right to self-rule and preserving the nations’ secular values since time immemorial. My grandfather incidentally was one of those who trawled for a common cause with people having faith in secular values and humanism. He spent his time in incarceration with many political stalwarts during the 1921 Non-cooperation movement, which was organized under Mahatma Gandhi’s watch. I wondered what my grandfather’s reaction would have been had he been alive today? Incidentally, my grandfather and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad — whose grand-niece is currently a senior BJP functionary — were in the same cell of Presidency Jail in Calcutta. He surely would have shuddered at the prospect of an India being ruled by the BJP with a single majority. The same political outfit, having openly denounced the very rubric of secularism on which the nations’ existence hangs in balance,will now push through their agenda of Hindutva along with tyrannical capitalism freely. I have heard many BJP stalwarts invoking Swami Vivekananda to justify their version of majoritarian politics. But then Vivekananda had out-rightly rejected violent identity politics. His version of missionary Hinduism was interpreted wrongly by those who wanted India to turn into a militant Hindu nation. They unfortunately made selective interpretations of Vivekananda’s text and
. Will Narendra Modi adhere to Vivekananda’s advice of keeping ones’ mind pure and free from hatred? Like Vivekananda, Modi too will hopefully realize someday that human beings are ultimately liberated into the minds of millions through their deeds. Perhaps Modi will do well to go through Vivekananda’s economic views as well before embarking on his journey toward establishing an outright capitalistic model of economy in India. Vivekananda was an old world Socialist who was awakened to the fact that a diverse India’s problems can only be solved through socialistic means even though he had candidly admitted that he could only be a socialist in part. The BJP might have systematically usurped in front of our eyes Vivekananda’s rich legacy for political reasons, but they have failed to extract the real spirit that lies hidden in his ideals. Unlike Vivekananda, the BJP and its sister organizations are yet to grasp that a wholesome development of India and inter-communal amity are mutually reinforcing and this nation cannot have one without the other. When initial emotions of this landslide victory die down, Modi will realize that his anointment has only widened democracy deficit in the world’s largest democracy. Despite creating a history of sort by helping India return to a single-party governance after three decades, Modi will never become a national hero whose following transcends the barrier of caste and creed. He will still get to rule India despite getting a very minor share of the sizeable Muslim and even Christian vote because of the country’s first past the postelectoral system, but will be unable to remove a sense of fear or powerlessness that has already gripped the minority community. Can Modi ensure that the Muslims, who have suffered a lot at the hands of Hindutva brigade, are not disempowered and they continue to have a stake in Indian politics? After, the bitter poll campaign — laced with communal rhetoric — that was employed by the BJP to achieve political victory, the onus lies on Modi to take the first step of alleviating fear from the hearts and minds of the minority populace in India. Now that he is in a position of strength, it is time for Modi to reach out to the minority Muslims and Christians for bridging the divide. He has declared that the Indian Constitution and not his ideologues in Rashtriya Sayamsevak Sangh, would guide his actions. The next five years will decide whether Modi can live up to the expectations of billion plus Indians — those who voted for and against him.