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Sunday, Sep 15, 2019

Modi has a chance to create history | Opinion

The Prime Minister can do this by putting up a performance that is better than any of his predecessors.

columns Updated: May 27, 2019 08:00 IST
Shashi Shekhar
Shashi Shekhar
Prime Minister Narendra Modi shows victory sign as he, along with the party President Amit Shah, arrives at the party headquarters to celebrate their victory in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, New Delhi, May 23, 2019.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi shows victory sign as he, along with the party President Amit Shah, arrives at the party headquarters to celebrate their victory in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, New Delhi, May 23, 2019.(Arvind Yadav/HT PHOTO)

There was a huge difference in the mood around the country between the morning and evening of May 23. In the morning, when the seals of the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were being opened, people were filled with restlessness. The opposition leaders were more optimistic than Narendra Modi’s supporters. They seemed to feel that some miracle in their favour was going to take place. By the evening everything became clear. India had handed over power to Narendra Modi with much greater confidence than before.

The majority of more than 90 crore voters of India have expressed their faith in Modi. To raise doubts and fears at the beginning of his second inning would be an insult to the millions of voters who have given this mandate. Narendra Modi has not achieved this only through political manipulations.  He provided welfare schemes to the poor and deprived. They felt that if these are in place for another five years and continue in the same manner in which they have so far, their lives would change for the better.

Of course, Modi is well aware of the challenge. That is why after this historic win, in his very first speech he reminded the BJP workers of the party’s slogan ‘Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas’. He also said that we should become more humble with this victory and should not forget that more responsibility has now come on our shoulders. Please recall. For several years, he has been talking about 2022. it will be the year of the diamond jubilee of our Independence and, on this occasion, he wants that no Indian to be left without housing. Everyone should have enough money for food and clothes. It is clear from his talks and speeches that he considers 2022 the watershed for all Indians being able to get the basic necessities of food, clothes and housing. From here, he feels, the country will scale new heights of development.

It is not an easy target to achieve.

In a pluralistic country like India, problems come in different shapes and sizes. The states of the east north and west have given him a thumping majority. The states of the south which have bucked the Modi wave have already climbed many steps towards progress. This duality of the north and the south is dangerous, so much so that the many fear that the idea of India could disintegrate. To catch up with the south, it is necessary to establish a transparent and honest administration in the northern states. This feels very good when we just say or hear it but the fact is, to impose honesty through rules and regulations is easy, but for this honesty to become ingrained in our national character is very difficult.

In his victory speech, the prime minister also said that we have succeeded in changing the narrative of secularism in the country. Many wondered whether if the ruling front got a majority in Rajya Sabha,l they would start working more proactively on the party’s old agenda of Ram Janmabhoomi, Article 370, the Common Civil Code etc? And if that is so, then will peace and order remain intact? He started his previous tenure on the development plank. Let’s hope that he keeps moving in that direction.

For the country’s prosperity, it is of utmost importance that we have good relations with our neighbours and peace within the country. It’s hoped that now the BJP will implement the policy of soothing wounds in troubled areas. The incidents in the Valley have overshadowed the achievements in the North East. Five years is enough to deal with many of these festering wounds. Our relations with Pakistan are tied up with this. Let’s hope that Narendra Modi’s next election speech will be based on establishing friendship rather than focusing on enmity with the equal force. He has the opportunity to do what no prime minister has been able to do.

We can expect this from him because he has proved himself unique in many other matters.

Modi is the first prime minister of independent India who despite being a representative of a right wing party, has outdone those behind introducing welfare schemes. That is the reason why even the leftist cadre considered the BJP as their last resort in West Bengal. Not even a single candidate of the Left was elected from there. They managed to win only one seat in Kerala. And in Tamil Nadu, if they won four seats, it was in alliance with many parties including DMK.

Needless to say, after Jawaharlal Nehru only Indira Gandhi enjoyed such popularity. Narendra Modi now has the opportunity to put in a performance that could be better than any previous prime minister. Will he be able to do this?

Shashi Shekhar is editor-in-chief, Hindustan
The views expressed are personal

First Published: May 27, 2019 07:59 IST