New Wine in an Old Bottle

The much awaited election results are out! And what a roller coaster of emotions they’ve brought on!

At the local level, I am grateful and relieved that Y S Vijaya has not been elected to represent my constituency in the Parliament. Going by her track record, she would have doubtless seized every spare inch of land in the city, and introduced political goons to a hitherto peaceful and calm place. I had resigned myself to her win, so to see that she had lost by a margin of over 100,000 votes was a wonderful and welcome surprise.

At the state level, I am excited and optimistic about having Chandra Babu Naidu as the Chief Minister of the residuary state of Andhra Pradesh. This state comes with a debt of over Rs.10, 000 crores. A new capital needs to be built in the next ten years – and that doesn’t just mean physical building but also institutions, systems and processes. I believe that CBN is well-suited for the job of setting this new state on a path of growth and development. Of all the candidates in the fray, he was the only one with a clear vision of the way forward for the state, addressing the needs and challenges of different regions.

At the national level, I am thrilled with the way voters have decisively voted out the Congress. This is a clear message that we will no longer be taken for a ride. Galloping inflation, institutionalized corruption, stagnating economic growth, policy paralysis and a welfare state on dole – there are many reasons to justify the intense public anger against the party, and the people gave voice to this anger through the vote. This, this, is how democracy works! I do hope this is the beginning of the end of dynasty politics in this country.

I am still hopeful that this is not the end of the road for the AAP. Yes, they have made some major mistakes this year. Their biggest mistake was to give up the government in Delhi – when it’s people voted for the AAP. Their second mistake was to context from 400+ seats. This did not make any strategic sense because their limited financial and organizational resources were stretched and none of the candidates received adequate support during the campaign. To make things worse, Kejriwal decided to contest from Varanasi, so even the limited resources were mostly diverted to him, leaving the other candidates in the lurch.

Despite these mistakes, I believe that the AAP is honest, well-intentioned, and even revolutionary. They have changed the way political discourse is conducted. Hopefully, the party will introspect and learn from their mistakes and build organizational strength in the next five years. To me, they symbolize a viable option for a thriving multi-party democracy.

I look to our new Prime Minister with both hope and trepidation. I don’t expect miracles from him. I am reasonably confident that he will introduce good governance and economic growth into the system. And these are much needed. But they are NOT enough. We need an increased focus on social development – access to quality healthcare, affordable higher education, protection of and support to vulnerable groups, creation of safety nets for the poorest of the poor – and these are the areas where I worry he will not pay attention.

We need strong safeguards for our personal freedoms. And even more so for vulnerable groups. My worst fear is that religious fanatics may take this decisive win not as a vote for growth but as a vote for their own version of Hindutva. Modi can, and should, control these elements. He’s intelligent and politcally savvy – and it’s clear that he wants more than just five years as the PM, so I hope his political ambition enables him to keep these fanatical elements in control.I hope my fears are unfounded. And I hope that this man that so many millions have reposed their faith in will pay them back by delivering on all these counts.

Meanwhile, I will leave you with this wonderful piece by someone who expresses my own feelings more eloquently than I even can.

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