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BW Businessworld

Kudos For Modi

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I can’t say whether I’m saddened or bemused by many of my liberal friends. These are intelligent, well read, decent people whose spoken words often fill TV channels and written ones the op-ed pages. They believe in democracy and the inalienable collective rights of citizens of this nation.

Yet, when a democratically run exercise involving almost 554 million voters overwhelmingly chooses an option they don’t like, they do every bit of word-smithing to assert how bad this will be for India.

Since the results have come out, I have been trolling Facebook to witness reactions of my liberal friends. Let me focus on a quantitative one. It goes thus, and I quote: “Seven out of 10 Indians voted against Modi. So much for a wave. In a room of 10 average Indians, just three would have voted BJP.”

Here is my critique of this position. Ours is a ‘first-past-the-post’ system. Rarely has a party bagged 31 per cent of the votes polled at the all-India level and not won big time. Besides, we should look at the states that mattered. In UP, the BJP got 42.3 per cent of the valid votes polled. So, is it surprising that it won 71 out of 80 seats? The difference in the share of votes with the next best, the Samajwadi Party, was 20.1 percentage points. In Gujarat, the BJP polled 59.1 per cent of the votes, and won all 26 seats. In Rajasthan, it secured 54.9 per cent of the votes and all 25 seats. In Madhya Pradesh, it secured 54 per cent of the votes and 27 of the 29 seats. In Delhi, it won 46.4 per cent of the votes and all seven seats. And, in Maharashtra, the BJP and the Shiv Sena together polled 47.9 per cent of the votes and won 41 of the 48 seats.

The way I look at it is that the Modi-led BJP won 282 seats overall not because three out of 10 Indians voted for him wherever they voted. But because a much higher percentage voted for change in the states that mattered most for the party. It well behoves us to remember that.

The pathos is the Congress led by Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. If the Congress wishes to survive as a national party — as it should for the good of parliamentary democracy — it must realise that its all-time low of 44 seats is entirely on account of the never-to-be-questioned High Command and the party’s pusillanimous leadership putting a callow and politically inept youth in charge. 

It is too early to give advice to a prime minister who is yet to take charge. Even so, let me suggest two. Despite many honchos in the BJP believing that the RBI is a major cause for the slowness of recovery, nothing can be farther from the truth. The cause is terrible economic governance and all-time low investor confidence which, hopefully, the Modi government ought to change. So, my plea is: Please don’t change Raghuram Rajan at the RBI for Arvind Panagariya or whoever else. That will not solve the problem; and create negative flak instead. My second advice is to be prepared for a terrible monsoon. All evidence suggests so. The solution is to ensure — as of today — that all key drought-prone districts across India have enough food stock for immediate distribution. This takes time, and we better be planned now.

Finally, to my liberal friends, only time will tell how Modi and his government succeed in ruling a complex entity called India. Watch for a while, examine how things happen,and stop behaving like children who didn’t get their lollipops. 

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 16-06-2014)