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Cut Modi to Size: ‘We the People’ Take back Ownership of the Republic

If Narendra Modi were a democrat, he would read the mandate as it is meant to be read: as a call for him to step down.
Congress workers in Himachal Pradesh. Photo: Facebook.

What a healthful comeuppance. As if lending an ear to sentiments expressed in a previous column, the constitutional proprietors of Indian democracy, namely, “we the people”, have spoken for a creatively unstable paradigm of governance.

Where a dangerously power-drunk Narendra Modi repeatedly announced his intention to run away with the system of checks and balances by garnering 400-plus seats in parliament, little women and men whom he had robbed of their ownership of the republic have cannily cut his ambition in half.

If Modi’s backers among the corporate and media-owning barons made a killing on the stock market after the release of mendacious exit polls, the actual results have brought investors low many a league in subsequent losses.

How nice for that to have happened.

Only the market-friendly economic “experts” who lord it in “think tanks” and pink papers conflate the share market with the real economy.

Ordinary voters have seen through that subterfuge yet again.

They have also seen through the crooked politics of hate and subservience to false prophets, by defeating the BJP candidate from the constituency where the new grand Ram temple now supervises the new tourism industry that investors have created in Ayodhya.

Indeed, they cut Modi’s lead in Varanasi some sixfold from last time around, and defeated ruling party satraps in nearly all constituencies that surround Kashi.

In contrast, they not only gave the much-belittled, Rahul Gandhi victory in Rae Bareli by a big margin but delivered the coup d’grace in Amethi by making a mere devoted associate of the Gandhi family victorious over the irritatingly cocky darling of the right-wing, Smriti Irani.

The verdict

If Modi were a democrat, he would read the mandate as it is meant to be read: as a call for him to step down.

But of course the Trumps and the Modis only use the democratic scaffolding of the state to perpetuate personal rule.

If Trump has proudly declared that were he to win again he would be a “dictator” from day one, Modi has gone further during this campaign by claiming that his birth was not a “biological” one, but, reading between lines, immaculately ordained to spread the Hindu nation to the firmament.

That Modi made himself the sole issue in his campaign, referring to himself in the Caesarian third person 758 times, only to bite the dust, particularly underscores the propriety of his demitting office, and letting others in his party waiting cunningly in the wings both to further diminish him and to advance their own thus-far couched ambitions.

What happens now, when the electorate has rendered Modi dependent on allies who were never more than invisible dots on a useless piece of paper?

How will he persuade a Chandrababu Naidu or a Nitish Kumar to espouse Hindutva politics, marginalise Muslims, make a uniform civil code a legal reality, or to switch to a ‘one nation, one poll’ regime that bids fair to decimate the federal structure of the constitution?

Easier said than done. Thank god.

Other allies who may now become visibly unavoidable will have their own agendas, as they should, but will Modi find in himself the cleverness to eat humble pie now and again so that he continues to remain in office?

Never having run a coalition government, the daily annoyance of having to be thwarted in one grand scheme or another may prove just unsustainable for Modi’s totalitarian psyche.

This is where the INDIA alliance stands a far better chance at succeeding.

However much Modi may chafe at the thought, the record shows that it is non-BJP-led coalition governments in recent decades which have delivered the most democratically and materially profitable governance for the common weal.

One may mention the National Front government led by V.P. Singh, the minority government led by P.V, Narasimha Rao and the two terms of the United Progressive Alliance led by Manmohan Singh in this regard.

Can Modi find it in himself to so govern the realm in a creatively dynamic order of instability where now “we the people,” Muslims included, will find ingress into policy from one day to another?

And conversely, will the INDIA alliance now see its way through to assembling a coalition of the willing on the basis of a principled common agenda of action?

And the moot question: how may the honourable President of India now weigh these new realities in initiating a constitutional move towards the formation of a new government?

State institutions and the media

Nothing would aid and abet the people’s verdict for the reinstatement of democracy and a regime of rights as much as the metamorphosis of compromised state institutions and the mainstream media from enslaved entities to protectors of the republican order, as they are enjoined to be by the constitutional system.

God knows they have, in the last decade, brought enough disrepute on themselves not to want to seize this new opportunity to do right and proper by constitutional democracy, without fear, favour or clinging to ruling chieftains of any hue.

They may have noted that in the world’s oldest democracy, a former president could be hauled up by the rule of law and found guilty by 12 ordinary citizens doing their bit to shore up democracy.

Jai “we the people.”

Jai constitutional democracy.

Badri Raina taught at Delhi University.


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