What does this mean for us as Indians?
We must be ready to face an aggressive version of a “Hindutva India”, in which religious identity will create inequality. We must also be ready for constitutional values and norms to have to compete with the unequal social traditions of caste hierarchy and discrimination. The BJP’s close relationship with corporates will increase the rapidly growing gaps between the rich and the poor, and economically, we will reject the welfare state for a market-oriented system.
There will be “market-friendly” governance; which means that privatisation will increase, and that all basic services will be more expensive and difficult to access – including education, health, etc. Women in all probability will also have to accept assertions of patriarchy. Selling a one-leader solution is undemocratic and unhealthy, undermining one of the basic tenets of democratic systems, that of collective leadership and lateral accountability. It portends a presidential form of government to replace parliamentary democracy, a disadvantage to federalism in India.
The pattern of voting also shows that the Indian people have voted for “machismo” as a route to peace and security. The hawkish manner in which Balakot was presented, including the refrain “ghar me gusskar mara” is not only selling aggression, but its articulation for seeking votes is appealing to the worst in us.
There is an obvious fall in ethical standards, when violent criminals, with no compunction about celebrating the murder of the father of nation, are made electoral candidates. Instead of repulsing voters, the language of abuse has managed to titillate their dormant desire for petty power. It seems as if the lynching of people from minorities is a matter of little concern in judging the performance of a Prime Minister and a government.
The Congress for its part has not reshaped itself into a viable party. Their internal bickering has led to the loss of many seats where wrong candidates have been nominated, and alliances were sacrificed for immediate party priorities. There has also been no grass root level campaign, and their leaders have been mute spectators, when the BJP has laid claim to victories not theirs. The RSS discourse has remained the dominant one not because the Congress discourse was weak or ineffective, but because it simply did not exist.
The Pulwama motif used by the PM to appeal to young voters asking for their vote for the martyrs, has dangerous implications for the independence of the armed forces. The institution set up to monitor the election- the Election Commission is now heavily compromised. There is suspicion about the EVM, a non-transparent electoral process, where the VVPAT is seen by voters, but is not used for counting the votes. The Supreme Court allows only 2% to be counted for auditing processes.
Yes, the BJP has won, but without honour.