What explains the absence of street celebrations following BJP’s landslide victory?

There is an inexplicable lull after the sensational election results. One had expected crackers and lights and fireworks as witnessed after BJP’s win in 2014

What explains the absence of street celebrations following BJP’s landslide victory?

Kumar Ketkar

Exactly four weeks ago on May 23, Indian polity and society took a sharp turn to an uncertain, brave new world. It is not as if the seeds of such a “counter-revolution” were not there. The regressive tendencies were there but most often, they were either restrained or were sometimes even defeated.

Today Lal Krishna Advani may appear a pathetic and lonely figure; but it was he who had released the genie from the bottle. Narendra Modi and Amit Shah have carried forward what he began. But the ideology and the organisational outfit was created 95 years ago when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh was founded in 1925.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in a letter to the chief ministers on 7th December 1947, barely four months after his famous “Tryst with Destiny” speech, wrote, “We have a great deal of evidence to show that RSS is an organisation, which is proceeding on the strictest Nazi lines, even following the technique of organisation...The German youth drifted towards the Nazi Party because of the negative programmes of that party which did not require active effort of mind...the Nazi Party brought Germany to ruin and I have little doubt that if these tendencies are allowed to spread and increase in India, they would do enormous injury to our country...No doubt India would survive . But the nation would be grievously wounded and would take a long time to recover”.

Nehru used to say often that his biggest challenge was to bring secularism to people who are deeply religious. He was never against religion as such, but was totally opposed to bring religion into politics. He knew that religious faith as political agenda would polarise the country. He was witness to our own holocaust at the time of partition.

Such partition divides minds and society first, and then the nations, and he had seen this happening in the world. He had a historian’s mind, a global vision and a scientific temper. He did not want yet another partition of the country, though he feared it, as is seen in that letter. This shows the serious apprehensions he had about the Hindu-Muslim divide and where it can lead to. India is a multi-religious, multi-faith, multi-cultural and multi-lingual country with fascinating diversity. Destiny had placed a responsibility on us to preserve it, he felt.

The freedom movement was not just an “anti-imperialist” struggle but was an effort to create an India that would be equal, fraternal and free, a society based on compassion and love, not based on violence and discrimination. These were the values, of sacrifice, of cooperation and a new work ethic.

The election results in 2014 and 2019 are reflections of how degenerate we have become as a society. However, there are some other things that must not be ignored.

The BJP has about 38 per cent vote and NDA has nearly 45 per cent votes. Even if we presume that the 45 per cent vote of the NDA is for the same polarising forces, still it leaves about 55 per cent of people not influenced by the frenzy generated by the Modi-Shah duo and their RSS mentors. That means the majority is still sane.

This calm sanity has been reflected in the absence of any celebrity fanfare and frenzy on May 23 and during the last month. There is an inexplicable lull after the sensational election results. One had expected crackers and lights and fireworks on the day or night of the results. Even drums and dances and colours hurled as on Holi, victory processions on streets blocking traffic.

Those were the scenes on 16th May 2014. In fact, most large victories lead to such spontaneous celebrations. But interestingly, even BJP offices and Shiv Sena shakhas did not have that kind of exhibitionist exuberance this time around. Not even on days that followed the results.

Ebullient Shiv Sainiks require just an excuse, an occasion to go wild. Even a small by-election for the Corporation or Zilla Parishad victory or even a win by Mumbai Indians in the IPL cricket matches provides them a pretext to launch on euphoric celebrations. But the landslide victory of the National Democratic Alliance this year received a lukewarm response.

Before the results, particularly after the exit polls, there was animated discussions in offices, drawing rooms, in buses and trains. Nobody ever expected a landslide for any party or front. Indeed, every single magazine, all pollsters, all commentators and talking heads on TV shows used to say that the election would produce a coalition—either led by the BJP or by the Congress.

The RSS ideologue Ram Madhav went even further. He declared days before the results that the BJP will accommodate other parties to form a government. He predicted shortfall for the BJP. And yet the results proved to be astounding. Predictions made by Amit Shah and Piyush Goyal proved bang on. But till the results were out, nobody except those two were so sure. Their unshakeable confidence weeks before the counting was done is mysterious indeed

That mystery is further deepened by the fact that till today, the final results, constituency-by constituency, are not yet been released by the Election Commission. About 370 results had a huge mismatch of figures between votes polled and votes cast. But there is a deafening, even sinister silence despite questions being raised.

“Itna Sannata Kyon Hai Bhai”, the exclamation made famous by A K Hangal’s dialogue in a Hindi film, resonates decades later. That “Sannata” has many secrets which need to be revealed. Only then we will know the real election results.

The warning given by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru over 70 years ago must be remembered. We have to overcome and we shall overcome. The majority is still with us!

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