If the mandate of Elections 2009 tells us something loud and clear, it is this: governance pays.
Even as the pundits furiously muttered, chattered and twittered, reaching a frightful crescendo as they played a strange version of Sudoku a day before Saturday’s results, the people of India chose their government without help from pocket calculators. They have given a historic mandate for the UPA government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and its policies. At the same time, they have rejected the surreal, distasteful numberpolitik that had made strange, mutant political formations such an ominous prospect. This marks a return to old-fashioned parliamentary elections where the people — and not hard-boiled demand-supply politics — decide who will represent them in Parliament.
The choices provided by the flotsam of the Third and Fourth Fronts have been exposed for what they always were: at best, professional nay-sayers; at worst, fly-by-night operators. But with the UPA now without albatrosses like the Left around its neck, we expect the Congress-led government to press its foot more firmly on the gas of reforms and take out forward-looking policies from the deep-freeze.
Does Verdict 2009 mark the end of Big Regiona-lism? Hardly. Nitish Kumar’s success in Patna is really a micro-version of Prime Minister Singh’s in Delhi. Both have been rewarded by an electorate that has grown increasingly aware of the benefits of — and the need for — good ‘boring’ governance. It is the regional politics in its most narrow avatar — extreme identity politics — that has been finally exposed for its overreach. A dozen tails will no longer be wagging the dog.
India’s voters believe Mr Singh’s government is the right one to take India forward in these unsteady times. It is now up to the new, unfettered, unhindered UPA government to show what it can do with our future.