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Saturday, May 17, 2014

PM Modi Must Remain True To His Instincts: He should not yield to the merchants of caution

By Swapan Dasgupta

On Friday, India didn’t merely elect a government with a resounding mandate, it categorically entrusted the responsibility for running the show to Narendra Modi. The extent to which the credit for the victory belongs to the BJP-led alliance and to the man who campaigned relentlessly for a Congress-free India will be the subject of debate in the coming days. To the average voter, however, this is no subject for hair-splitting. The vote was essentially for Modi, for his combative style of leadership and for the dream of a better future he proffered.

The opinion polls and the exit polls are quite clear on this score. The booster dose that carried the BJP beyond the 272 mark and which gave the NDA more than 330 seats was essentially a result of the massive support its candidates received from India’s youthful voters, those under the age of 35. It was this section that gave the Modi campaign its T-20 energy, allowed it to spread throughout India and break the seemingly impregnable bastions of caste and community. The credit for Modi’s spectacular victory belonged to those who demanded a better future for themselves, their families and their country. It was a vote both for self and nation.

The sheer boldness of the mandate may well be lost on a political class that still thinks in very conventional terms about what is possible and what is not on. Modi doesn’t. Having for long successfully defied the collective wisdom of the commentariat and the entrenched Establishment he would know that this was not a mandate for consensus but for audacity. After a long spell of experimenting with the staid and the conventional (that also included dollops of venality), India has preferred a ‘dil mange more’ impetuosity.

It is imperative to grasp the full meaning of Friday’s momentous mandate because the next few weeks will witness a concerted attempt to blunt the sharp edges of the voter restlessness. There will be a bid to suggest that the excitement of the past three months should be firmly buried and replaced by a business-as-usual spirit. There will be the usual jockeying for posts and ministerships by those who were left out in the past decade. And there will be gratuitous advice showered on the new Prime Minister to shed his combativeness and be socialised into a new role.

Some of these suggestions are no doubt well-meaning but Modi must resist the temptations of yielding to the merchants of caution. The vote is for a radical rupture with the fundamental assumptions of governance that, in today’s India, has come to mean institutionalised inefficiency and lack of transparency. Just as he redefined the rules of campaigning during the course of his 450 plus public meetings since September 2013, Modi must be true to his instincts and his partiality for a national resurgence.


Such a lofty project will no doubt need relentless application but equally it will need a revitalised political culture. Hitherto, governments have proceeded top-down to manage change. Modi will need to harness the wave of adulation for him for a larger mission to revitalise a creaky system and make it fit for purpose. This could offend the status-quoists. But he needn’t fear. If India wanted to merely plod along, it wouldn’t have elected a man like him. 

Times of India, May 17, 2014

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Swapan Da, we have also same notion.We want he must not leave his aggressiveness and assertiveness.When he becomes PM now he must not drive by backseat driving s MMS had done and Sonia made him her puppet.Now Party works are gone and it is now PM post which whole India wants to see a assertive PM without backseat driving.No pampering no appeasement of so called seniors.

Anonymous said...

Time of puppetry is over it is now strong and assertive PM

fatty liver said...

Congrats Swapan. Finally good to see u back in CNNIBN debate. I love it when you give back to our liberal friends and call out their hypocrisy.

Satya Swarup said...

Once sworn in as PM, Modi must resist the temptation of bringing populist policies, while jeopardizing the long-term growth prospects of our country.

Vishal Patel said...

Swapan da once again bang ON.. I have been following your commentary since moved to US in Jan 13... One of the few Bengali intellectuals relentlessly supporting & advising NaMo from behind the screen.. KUDOS to your lone battles on news channels especially on NDTV, CNN-IBN & proving pathologically hatred Mani S Iyer wrong.. I saw him commenting you over rated expert on few occasions.. I am joyous to see Congress decimated thanks to such self proclaimed Secularist & advisers.. I am based out of Southern California & would like to connect with you directly if you don't have any objection

Avtar Singh said...

I saw you newsnight last night. The bbc is a loathsome institution and I very much look forward to the day when I no longer have to contribute to its coffers.

It only has one motive and that is to advance its own narratives.. In this case; bash Modi.

Anish Kapoor, what a prig. But he has to suck up to his paymasters. He knew what the bbc wanted from him and he delivered. You were lucky you got on to counter him, mostly bbc only interviews those validating its memes.

Cool Guy said...

The choice of cabinet shall tell us the tale.

Anonymous said...

Very true Swapan. He must practise what he has sold to the masses and what they have voted for. regards Rajiv Bhatia

Anonymous said...

Sri.Swapan Dasgupta is one great asset to Narendra Modi.

I just listened to Swapan Dasgupta's 'Understanding Modi's India' at AusIndiaInstitute. It brought a lot more clarity.

That there is going to be decentralized governance is extremely good news. And that Modi is going to focus on India's capacity building; that Indians no longer are stymied by narrow caste considerations -all are very refreshing facts.

Whatever fault lines exist between Muslims and Hindus can be easily overcome by both communities living together. Personally I have found this works for the better instead of Muslims living in ghettos.

Whatever be our religions , our aspirations and insecurities are the same. Living together as a community is more desirable than drawing boundaries and whipping up hostilities.

Anonymous said...

Sri.Swapan Dasgupta is one great asset to Narendra Modi.

I just listened to Swapan Dasgupta's 'Understanding Modi's India' at AusIndiaInstitute. It brought a lot more clarity.

That there is going to be decentralized governance is extremely good news. And that Modi is going to focus on India's capacity building; that Indians no longer are stymied by narrow caste considerations -all are very refreshing facts.

Whatever fault lines exist between Muslims and Hindus can be easily overcome by both communities living together. Personally I have found this works for the better instead of Muslims living in ghettos.

Whatever be our religions , our aspirations and insecurities are the same. Living together as a community is more desirable than drawing boundaries and whipping up hostilities.

Anonymous said...

Mani Shankar Iyer has often been intemperate towards Swapan Dasgupta.

But Swapan Dasgupta has always behaved like a perfect Gentleman taking his barbs in his stride.

Jitendra Desai said...

"Institutionalized inefficiency and lack of transparency" - If he can fix these two things, BJP under him will win 300 + seats in 2019.Audaciousness for him will simply mean working hard and working smart and making others do the same.Eg refer to his speech in Varanasi today.He wants to clean up Kashi with the help of her citizens.Their MP and PM elect is telling them to be cleaner.Will they? If they will, imagine the results for Ganga , for the country...

Anonymous said...

Just pause and think of all the positives wrought by this election.

dmk, dk and communists have been defeated.

And Jayalalithaa has won in Tamil Nadu.

No more shall we hear the same threats of Sethusamudram 'project'.

Amul I read has invested heavily in dairy farming in Varanasi.

The threat posed by illegal bangladeshi immigrants and the menacing Aadhaar cards can be tackled only by Narendra Modi's BJP.

Education and food production -these two would be given their due importance.

Anonymous said...

Swapan da - We want a Ghouri not a Prithiviraj Chouhan. The opposition must be decimated thoroughly. There are lot of cases against them -from Jamai babu to others. For no reason let down u on the UP and Bihar seats. Dont let ur guard down and go for the kill. After 5 years u may not get the same mandate so annihilate and decimate...

Anonymous said...

we request Modijee not to be pressurised by any leaders in formation of his dream team

Harshil Shah said...

Excellent article. The mandate was radical change with immidiete effect