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 (Photo: Reuters)
(Photo: Reuters)

Opinion | Behind the strong mandate lies weight of expectations

Poor feel that if Modi continues with schemes then their lives would change for the better

There was a huge difference in the mood around the country between the morning and evening of 23 May. In the morning, when the seals of electronic voting machines (EVMs) were being opened, people were restless. The opposition leaders were more optimistic than Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s supporters. They seemed to feel that some miracle in their favour was going to take place. By the evening, everything became clear. India had handed over power to Modi with much greater confidence than before.

The majority of more than 900 million voters have expressed their faith in Modi. To raise doubts and fears at the beginning of his second innings would be an insult to the millions of voters who have given this mandate. Modi has not achieved this only through political manipulations. He provided welfare schemes to the poor. They felt that if these are in place for another five years and continue in the same manner in which they have so far, their lives would change for the better.

Of course, Modi is well aware of the challenge. That is why after this historic win, in his first speech, he reminded BJP workers of the slogan “Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas". He also said that the party should become more humble with this victory and should not forget that more responsibility has now fallen on its shoulders.

For several years, he has been talking about 2022. It will be the year of the diamond jubilee of Independence and, on this occasion, he wants no Indian to be left without housing. It is clear from his speeches that he considers 2022 the watershed for all Indians being able to get the basic necessities of food, clothes and housing. From here, he feels, the country will scale new heights of development.

It is not an easy target to achieve.

In a pluralistic country like India, problems come in different shapes and sizes. The states of the east, north and west have given him a majority. The states of the south, which have bucked the Modi wave, have already climbed many steps towards progress. This duality of the north and the south is dangerous, so much so that many fear that the idea of India could disintegrate. To catch up with the south, it is necessary to establish a transparent and honest administration in the north. This feels good when we just say or hear it but the fact is, to impose honesty through rules and regulations is easy, but for this honesty to become ingrained in our national character is difficult.

In his victory speech, the prime minister also said that his party has succeeded in changing the narrative of secularism in the country. Many wondered if the ruling front would start working more proactively on its old agenda of Ram Janmabhoomi, Article 370, the Uniform Civil Code etc if it gets a majority in Rajya Sabha. And if that is so, then will peace and order remain intact? He started his previous tenure on the development plank. Let’s hope that he keeps moving in that direction.

For the country’s prosperity, it is of utmost importance that we have good relations with our neighbours and peace within the country. It’s hoped that now, the BJP will implement the policy of soothing wounds in troubled areas. The incidents in the Valley have overshadowed the achievements in the North-East. Five years is enough to deal with many of these festering wounds. Our relations with Pakistan are tied up with this. Let’s hope that Modi’s next election speech will be based on establishing friendship. He has the opportunity to do what no PM has been able to do. We can expect this from him because he has proved himself unique in many other matters.

Modi is the first prime minister of independent India, who despite being a representative of a right-wing party, has outdone those behind introducing welfare schemes. That is the reason why even the leftist cadre considered the BJP as their last resort in West Bengal. Not even a single candidate of the Left was elected from there. They managed to win only one seat in Kerala. And in Tamil Nadu, if they won four seats, it was in alliance with many parties including DMK.

Needless to say, after Jawaharlal Nehru, only Indira Gandhi enjoyed such popularity. Modi now has the opportunity to put in a performance that could be better than any previous prime minister. Will he be able to do this?

Shashi Shekhar is editor-in-chief, Hindustan

The views expressed are personal

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