Greatest spectacle has a photofinish
With Election 2014 coming to a grand close and registering a stupendous 66.38 per cent voter turnout, a massive chapter of the book of Indian democracy ends, only to herald new beginnings, new expectations, new rages and hopes. Yesterday, the ninth and last phase of the parliamentary polls was held, with 41 constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal exercising their rights of universal franchise, with the mother of all battles held Varanasi, which saw a faceoff between Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convener Arvind Kejriwal. As the exit polls swing overwhelmingly in favour of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), predicting as much as 272-280 Lok Sabha seats, pretty much solemnising Modi’s mission and vision, what is undoubtedly the lesson to take home is the absolute politicisation and electoral awareness of our nation of 80 crore-strong electorate. Notching up an unprecedented presence at the polling booths, in a bitterly-fought and fraught season of electioneering, it is to the credit of everyone involved, including the political parties, election commission, the security forces, media and other campaign platforms and last but not the last the voters themselves, that Election 2014 was such a spectacular success in every sphere of operation. Few incidences of violence aside, the five-week-long exercise went about largely peacefully, and people beat scorching heat and pouring rain to register their ballots.
While the 16th Lok Sabha election was fought over extreme anti-incumbency and desperation with the ruling UPA’s lackadaisical second innings, it was also heavily determined by two other forces. One, obviously is the Modi wave, which could be loosely translated as aspirational India’s impatience with corruption, stagflation and corporate India’s heedless batting for a strong, market-friendly regime in the centre. But the second force which equally influenced India’s experiment with political truths is the rise and rise of AAP, a motley group of civil society members, academicians, former bureaucrats, activists, lawyers, social reformers and even filmstars, which represented a political participation that was last seen in the short-lived Janata Party movement in the wake of Indira Gandhi-led Emergency days. Even though large tracts of India fall out of the purview of these two surging tides of urbane political momentum, these would be crucial in the heady cocktail that would be seen once the final tally is announced on 16 May. While provincial India would still opt for regional satraps, who would eke out prominent roles in coalition-era India’s tectonic tilts, it is the new forces that would seal the future of Indian politics. Whatever be the scenario post 16 May, the ultimate victory will be of the Indian democracy in all its vibrant colours.